Ukraine with its enormous natural resources, unique landscape and climatic conditions and a favorable geographical location has extremely favorable conditions for the development of ecological tourism and rural green tourism. In Ukraine, rural green tourism has developed in the south of Ukraine. This is largely due to natural conditions, developed resort infrastructure with sources of healing mineral waters, the presence of well-known resorts such as Kinburn Spit, which attract lovers of summer holidays. Rural tourism in Pokrovka was developed due to its location on the Kinburn Spit, on the Black Sea. The main flow of tourists flies for a summer vacation in the resort area on the coast, where the most popular is the rest in the private sector of the village of Pokrovka. Ecotourism, based on the principles of sustainable tourism, can contribute to solving many problems associated with environmental degradation, primarily the degradation of land and water resources, biodiversity. Its development will increase employment in depressed agricultural areas, which will contribute to the revival of the Ukrainian village.
An indispensable condition for such a revival is environmental education and enlightenment, “greening” of the economy, including tourism, raising public awareness and ensuring access to environmental information, as well as the transition from declarative to a real policy of sustainable development, with the adoption of relevant state programs with the involvement and allocation necessary funding.
The use of the term ecological tourism in various contexts, as well as the increasingly fashionable terms rural tourism, green tourism, nature tourism, along with an abundance of other phrases including the word tourism, such as adventure tourism, biotourism and others, can easily be misleading not only an ordinary tourist or the owner of a tourist estate starting a business, but also an expert in the field of environmental protection. Let’s try to figure out what ecotourism and some related and, sometimes, unjustifiably identified with it concepts, most often found in advertising publications and other media, mean.
Ecotourism was first introduced in Africa in 1950, with the legalization of hunting. This need for recreational hunting areas has led to the creation of nature reserves, national parks and hunting grounds. Today, these areas have become important, huge, revenue generating places. Since the late 1980s, the concepts of ecotourism, responsible tourism, and sustainable development have become dominant.
The popularity of ecotourism reflects a change in the perceptions of tourists, an increase in environmental awareness, and a desire to learn more about the natural environment. Ecotourism has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry in the world and is growing by 10-15% annually. The importance of ecotourism is evidenced by the fact that in 2002 the UN, which has great potential for environmental protection, celebrated the “International Year of Ecotourism”.
In the diversity of types of tourism activities, on the way from traditional tourism to, in fact, ecotourism, there are too many disagreements regarding the limit at which conservation of biodiversity, local socio-economic benefits and environmental consequences can be considered as “ecotourism”. For this reason, specialists in environmental protection, special interest groups and governments define ecotourism in different ways. Environmental organizations, as a rule, insist that ecotourism is nature-oriented, sustainably managed, maintaining the preservation of nature and ecologically educated.
The tourism industry and governments, however, pay more attention to the production aspect, considering ecotourism along with any other type of tourism that is associated with nature. Additional difficulties arise also due to the fact that many terms are used under the rubric of ecotourism. Ideally, ecological tourism meets a number of criteria, including the conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity in the framework of ecosystem protection; promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities based on informed consent and participation; increasing environmental and cultural knowledge; reduction of volumes and production of waste; as well as minimizing its own impact on the environment. Here are a few definitions, the most popular, and, in our opinion, the best disclosing the essence of ecotourism.
Ecotourism is a nature-oriented tourism, including education and enlightenment in the field of the environment and managed in accordance with the principles of environmental sustainability. Ecotourism is a purposeful trip to natural areas in order to understand the local culture and history of the development of the environment, which do not violate the integrity ecosystems, while making conservation of natural resources beneficial for local people.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) understands ecotourism as “traveling with responsibility to the environment in relatively undisturbed natural areas with the aim of exploring and enjoying nature and cultural attractions, which helps to protect nature, has a“ soft ”impact on the environment, provides an active social -economic participation of local residents and their benefits from this activity.”
There is also a shorter conceptual definition of ecotourism: “ecotourism is a sustainable and nature-oriented tourism and recreation.” Sustainability in tourism implies a positive overall balance of the environmental, socio-cultural, and economic impacts of tourism, as well as a positive impact on visitors to each other.
Natural tourism, soft tourism, green tourism, biological tourism, environmentally responsible tourism, and other terms are often used in literature and marketing, although they are not necessary synonyms for ecotourism.
The problems associated with the definition of ecotourism have led to confusion among both tourists and scientists. Terminological problems are also a subject of public debate because of “greenwashing” – tendencies towards the commercialization of tourism and the use of advertising and marketing schemes that mask the real attitude of corporations towards environmental issues under sustainable, nature-oriented ecological tourism. Natural tourism is any type of tourism that directly dependent on the use of natural resources in their relatively unchanged state, including landscapes, terrain, water, vegetation and wildlife. It follows from the definition that, in contrast to ecological tourism, the concept of “natural tourism” is based only on the motivation of tourists (outdoor recreation), and therefore cannot be considered as a sustainable type of tourism. (Hunting, motor boat trips and other specific types of tourism, the impact of which can be very different). A variety of nature tourism is biotourism and travel to the wild, the purpose of which can be any wildlife, from individual species to communities and biocenoses.
Green tourism implies the application of environmental methods and technologies in the tourism industry. In German-speaking countries, the adjective “ecological” is used very rarely, and the term “soft tourism”, or “ecological and socially responsible tourism” is most widely used. This term, as an alternative to industrialized mass tourism, was proposed in 1980 by R. Jungk. Usually soft tourism is opposed to hard tourism, the main purpose of which is to maximize profits. For soft tourism, not only successful business is priority, but also concern for the cultural well-being of tourist regions, the sparing use of their resources, and minimization of environmental damage.
Green rural tourism, or agritourism, especially popular in the USA and Western Europe, is a vacation in the countryside (in villages, on farms, in comfortable peasant houses). Tourists for some time lead a rural lifestyle among nature, get acquainted with the values of folk culture, applied art, with national songs and dances, local customs, take part in traditional rural labor, folk festivals and festivals. Adventure tourism is also often associated with ecotourism. However, not all adventure tours meet environmental criteria. So, for example, sports and safari tours associated with the extraction of live trophies or the achievement of a sports result at any cost (using felled living trees for the construction of crossings) can be anti-ecological. At the same time, ecological tourism does not always imply adventure elements.