With the trend of being green and eco-friendly in the tourism industry becoming increasingly popular, I find it amusing to see how some marketing strategies are pushing their product to be the best eco choice for travelers worldwide. Take Bhutan, for instance. Tucked away in the Himalayas, its remote location screams environmental as there isn’t much else around except the “awe-inspiring surroundings … fresh mountain air and … towering peaks” (Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions, 2012). There isn’t much development in Bhutan – the people live simple lives where pollution, over-crowded cities and other issues never come to be. “The tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable” (Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions, 2012).
Prior to getting drawn into the magic of Bhutan’s many unclimbed Himalayan peaks, I was fascinated by the marketing scheme behind trying to get travelers to make a stop in Bhutan. The hook to draw people in was none other than eco-friendly treks and expeditions. It makes me wonder if there could possibly be a type of trekking/expedition tour that is not friendly to the environment. It is not as though outdoor adventurers are clambering over mountains to meet up at a secluded nuclear plant in the middle of nowhere. It is not as though tramping companies are setting out to pave pathways and level off forests to create more walking room. It is not even as though remote mountain rivers have become polluted from the non-eco trekkers of the world.
If there was such a thing as an eco-trek, what does mean for all the non eco-treks worldwide? Are those not advertising to be eco, suddenly less eco-friendly? Are these guiding companies now suddenly filled with the urge to encourage their customers to litter in the bush while on tour? Would these non eco-trekking companies be followed by an airplane carrying their food to the camp for the night, thereby polluting the air? What is it that makes one trekking company eco and another one not?
To me it is all simply a marketing scheme to get eco-buffs to buy into their product. Trekking as a sport is one of the most eco-friendly things a person can do when exploring a new place. Aside from perhaps the plane ride to get there, there isn’t much to the sport to make it much more eco-friendly than what it already is in its most natural form. Walking.
Travelling on foot is one of the best ways a person can get to know a place, whether in the city, country or remote wilderness. Putting one foot in front of the other forces us to take note of every little thing we pass. Touch. Smell. Hear. See. And yes, even all those bugs we somehow get to taste. There are many ways to go by foot – one can trek, tramp, hike, traverse, do an expedition, climb or even just walk. Whether on your own, with a friend/family or in a group of people you just met – it can be a short wander or a massive climb of a mountain. Regardless, being on foot makes us that much more closer to nature.
Sure, there are the arguments that doing a trek can be harmful to the environment when there are many people traipsing through an area, scaring the wildlife and ruining the vegetation. But as far as I’m concerned, I figure people should stop worrying about those that want to explore the nature we have and start worrying more about the nature that is literally disappearing before our eyes. Even New York is so short on places to plant trees that they have developed rooftop gardens to create a bit of greenery in the concrete-clad city. I personally think that a person who plants a tree on top of a 50-story building has kind of lost the point.
And what about all those forests being cut down for new developments that “must” be done? What about all the rivers that are too high and those that are too low? What about all the pollution that is pumped into our air on a daily basis? What about those issues?
When looking at the tourism industry, instead of trekking companies trying to advertise their product as being more eco-friendly than the next, I’d love to see a jet boat company come forward with an eco-friendly plan. Or what about Formula 1 Races? What are they doing to be eco-friendly? There are so many other tourist companies and attractions that need to be more interested in developing and promoting their product as being eco-friendly. Trekking has been, is and always will be one of the best activities to do at home or when travelling that is eco-friendly.
So go take your dog for a walk, do the day hike you always wanted or maybe start planning your next big adventure in Bhutan amongst the Himalayas. Regardless, take time to breathe in some fresh area and enjoy the nature that surrounds you.
Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions. (2012, January 1). Welcome: Bhutan Page. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions: http://www.nepalholiday.com/bhutan/index.htm
Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions. (2012, January 1). Welcome: Bhutan Trekking. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from Eco-Friendly Treks & Expeditions: http://www.nepalholiday.com/bhutan/bhutan_trekking/bhutan_trekking.html
Info Please. (2012). Bhutan. Retrieved May 11, 2012, from Info Please: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107341.html