Ecotourism is now defined as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education" (TIES, 2015).
Some see the eco-tourist as the old style hippy, wanting to go wild camping and foraging in the forest. Others imagine eco-tourists as hiking backpackers or bikers carring all equipement with themselves. The International Ecotourism Society describes the typical ‘eco-tourist’ as having ‘more’ of everything. Ecotourism is about maximalising the possitive impacts of tourism for everyone and everything. “Tomorrow’s traveler will be better educated, more individualistic and more discriminating than their predecessors”
ConservationOffering market-linked long-term solutions, ecotourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet.
CommunitiesBy increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, ecotourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development.
InterpretationWith an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness through interpretation, ecotourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture.
Increased tourism to sensitive natural areas without appropriate planning and management can threaten the integrity of ecosystems and local cultures. The increase of visitors to ecologically sensitive areas can lead to significant environmental degradation. Likewise, local communities and indigenous cultures can be harmed in numerous ways by an influx of foreign visitors and wealth. Additionally, fluctuations in climate, currency exchange rates, and political and social conditions can make over-dependence upon tourism a risky business.
However, this same growth creates significant opportunities for both conservation and local communities. Ecotourism can provide much-needed revenues for the protection of national parks and other natural areas -- revenues that might not be available from other sources.
Additionally, ecotourism can provide a viable economic development alternative for local communities with few other income-generating options. Moreover, ecotourism can increase the level of education and activism among travelers, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation (source: www.nature.org)
The Carpathian Mountains in Central and Eastern Europe represent one of the most biologically outstanding ecosystems in the world. This natural kingdom is providing the habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves,chamois, lynxes, eagles and many other animal species as well as over one third of all European plant species. The Carpathians foothills are rich in natural elements such a forests, caves or thermal and mineral waters. Slovakia has the most significant water resources in Europe. They consist of almost 1500 springs of mineral and thermal water and 110 natural lakes in Slovakia. Many of them are suitable for leisure and water sports.
Last element fullfiling this landscape image is man and it´s cultural heritage. The Carpathians have always been a home of various nations, ethnic and religious groups - people separated by different languages, dialects and traditions, but bound together by a highland way of life. For centuries man´s impact can be visible. High mountain farming and shepparding have always been the most important shape of culture in Carpathian Mountains. Until today you can see livestock grazing high mountain pastures. Many practices and traditions have survived, including Carpathian music and dance, harvest festivals, traditional agricultural products, magnificent wooden architecture, and local costumes and folklors. Many historical and cultural monuments and structures can still be found in the region.
All these puzzle pieces of nature, wildlife and rural culture makes from Slovakia an ecotoursim paradise. Paradise worth to visit!