Extreme tourism Definition Geography
Active Tourism is a new travelling philosophy that combines adventure, ecotourism and cultural aspects of a discovery tour. Active Tourism is low-impact, ecological, socially compatible and high quality. Active Tourism aims to combine recreation, education and bring benefits to both the tourist as well to the visited land. Active Tourism has many aspects in common with ecotourism and nature tourism and it also integrates some activities of action and adventure tourism. Additionally it also includes some aspects of cultural tours and academic and scientific expeditions.
There are many aspects in common between all this forms of travelling, but there are also important differences which need detailed explanation (see below).
Active Tourism is responsible travel to foreign areas requiring physical and mental participation from the tourist and following the maximes of sustainability, protection of Biodiversity and conservation of culture. Important elements are recreation and education, respect and contemplation, action, exercise and active involvement in company of an expert local friend, an academically competent tour guide.
The non-profit organisation active-tourism.org issues an official certification if the requisites are meet and also publishes a list of positively and negatively (Red List) certified tour operators.
What is Ecotourism?
In 1991 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) provided one definition: "Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people."
The World Conservation Union stated in 1996 that Ecotourism "is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompaning cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations."
The above definitions and also newer ones all make clear that Ecotourism is primarily defined by the location, the destination of travelling: "undisturbed natural areas". It follows the aims of "responsible travel", "conservation of nature" and "benefits for locals" but all within a defined landscape or natural environment.
Active Tourism shares similar aims as Ecotourism but is not defined by the destination or location, but rather is defined by the "way of visiting", the attitude of the tourist and the activities that are carried out during visitation. Active Tourism requires active physical and intellectual participation regardless of the destination. Thus, while Ecotourism is only possible in undisturbed "natural jungle", Active Tourism is both possible in natural areas as well as in the middle of an "urban jungle" like a city. While Ecotourism requires as many green plants, as little constructions and as few humans as possible, Active Tourism is not limited by trees, houses, streets and many people around. And especially not if these persons belong to another, very interesting culture and speak another language. This is an essential part of what the tourist wants to get to know. The local arquitecture, arqueological ruins, urban features and civilization products can all be object of visiting for Active Tourism. Also, to discover the diverse results of human creativity, like local traditions, language, music, dancing or cooking can be the most interesting ingredients of the Active Tourism experience.
Both Ecotourism and Active Tourism share a high respect for Nature and Biodiversity. They both follow the belief that even global concerns need local solutions. Nature is beautiful and the best way to protect it is to enjoy it by discovering and knowing it. They both include an interpretation and learning effect as a important aspect of the visit. Both Ecotourists and Active Tourists pursue "life enhancement" and share a common desire for authenticity and a complete immersion in the environment. A desire to experience novelty and uniqueness as part of the travel experience.
Both Ecotourism and Active Tourism aim to have as little impact as possible on the ecosystem and the visited country. They both seek longterm and sustainable benefices. Within the context of touristic development, sustainability is then defined as the ability to use present resources without consuming them faster as regeneration makes possible. Their services are delivered primarily to small groups by small-scale businesses requiring the lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources.
Opposed to the consequences of traditional Mass Tourism, both phylosophies are committed to conserve the environment as well as local culture, traditions and values. To offer work to local people and help to the development of the region.
The differences between Ecotourism and Active Tourism are subtle but nevertheless important: 1) location of travelling, 2) objects and subjects of visiting and 3) in the attitude during visiting.
Firstly, Active Tourism is possible in almost any location, in intact nature, in rural as well as in urban environments. In industrial as well as in developing countries. In tropical as well as in template climates. For Active Tourism, human activity is not a foreign or undesired component of the environment, but it is an integral part of it. Humans are part of nature, even if they destroy some features of landscape and reshape the environment to meet their needs.
Secondly, the products of human activity and creativity, like culture, language, cuisine, music, dance, handcrafts, arquitecture and also social reality and history are all focus of Active Tourism. For example, dancing or cooking lessons are perfect examples of Active Tourism that hardly fit into the scope of Ecotourism. These activities fit into the concept of Cultural Tourism which is indeed an important aspect of Active Tourism.
Thirdly, Active Tourism requires active physical and mental involvement of the tourist, including more adventure and action than traditional Ecotourism or Cultural Tourism. You not only go to a natural and beautiful site, but you practise exercise, activate your body energy and enrich your mind. Your body and mind in harmony with nature but tied to human civilization. At the same time as you will wander through the rainforest, you should listen to your guide who will tell you most interesting facts about animal and plant species, about the ecosystem...