What does one like to do when one finds themselves in an area within close proximity to a nice body of sweet or salt water? Visit it, of course! When taking a trip, it is only natural to find oneself wanting to visit the local coastal towns, take a sail or to go for a diving tour to explore the local marine life through marine travel.
What is marine tourism?
Marine tourism is the act of engaging in tourism activities partaken in large bodies of water such as fresh water lakes and oceans. Activities such as diving or snorkeling, visiting coral reefs in a sustainable way, sailing in a wind powered sail boat, or watching the wildlife from a quiet electric boat or even from shore are all marine travel activities which can be done in a sustainable way.
These refreshing activities are not only beneficial to the traveller and local tour companies, but also can be beneficial to the marine wildlife as well, as there do exist sustainable options for regenerative marine tourism – such as helping to transplant corals – for a 100% guilt free marine experience.
Examples of sustainable marine travel
Boat tours for viewing wildlife
This may sound as if it is something already quite common by tourism standards. However, the difference is in the focus. For example, in Finland, when viewing the endangered Saimaa ringed seals, only electric boats are used in order to eliminate noise which may disturb the seals and the viewing is done from a safe distance in which to not alert the seals to the existence of others. Or, for another example, when whale watching in Alaska a similar approach to distance is used by both watching from sea or watching from land.
Sustainable shark tours are a form of dive tourism in which the tour is conducted in a hands-off way which works to protect the sharks in areas designated as protected. When taking a sustainable shark tour during marine travel, one can be confident that their monies spent on the tour will also be directed into the preservation of the sharks or their protected areas.
Helping to save the coral reefs is an important aspect of preserving marine life. Initiatives such as ecotours designed to not only enjoy a nice day of diving but to also work for the regeneration of oceans by transplanting corals are a guilt-free form of marine tourism.
Whenever diving, please do consider the use of reef-safe sunscreen in order to avoid causing any additional damage to the reefs. And, as always, please be minimise litter by disposing of rubbish in the proper receptacle or by using reusable products which do not require disposal.
Sustainable marine travel works to help more than the marine wildlife. Small communities in coastal regions around the world rely on income from tourism, be it directly or indirectly. When enlisting the services of a local tour or diving guide, having lunch at a small local dining establishment or purchasing handicraft souvenirs from local makers, those profits go right back into the community where it is needed.
It is always recommended to research the sustainable / ecotours before travelling to ensure that all tour companies or activities are eco-certified. More information about eco certification can be found by clicking here.
Enjoying a day on, or in the water is a non-negotiable for many travellers. Sustainable marine travel is a guilt-free way to experience local marine wildlife or even to engage in regenerative efforts while on one’s travels.
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