About Ecotourism

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Ecotourism is described as "ethical travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, promotes local people's well-being, and includes interpretation and education" (The International Ecotourism Society). “Ecotourism is a growing niche market within the wider travel sector, with the potential to be a significant sustainable development tool,” according to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) (Wood, 7). Understanding a tourist destination's potential to promote ecotourism provides the foundation for ecotourism growth and management, ensuring the natural ecosystem is preserved. This essay shows that Long Island can succeed as an ecotourism destination and offers the possible attractions that could be successful.

Long Island is located off the East Coast of the United States and is a densely populated area starting at New York Harbor just half a kilometer from Manhattan Island and extends Eastwards into the Atlantic Ocean. Long Island comprises of four continues in New York State; Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk counties. It is the longest and largest Island in the Contiguous United States extending 118 kilometers to Montauk Point from New York Harbor and is the 11th largest island in the United States. Ecotourism encompasses certain aspects and has to be met for a tourism destination to be considered successful as an ecotourism destination. These aspects include low-impact visitor behavior, local participation in decision-making, sustainable benefits to the local community, support for conservation efforts, appreciation and sensitivity to local cultures and biodiversity, and educational components to locals and travelers.

Long Island fits as an ecotourism destination because of a commitment to conserving the environment, protecting the natural ecosystem, the involvement of the locals in conservation and tourism promotion efforts. There are education opportunities and parks, and other tourist destinations are open to the public with the locals offered opportunities to benefit from tourists in the area. The locals participate in tourism decisions and in conserving the environment. The tourism activity in Long Island is also managed to ensure sustainable tourism and protection of the environment. The establishment of Discover Long Island responsible for advertising the region as a world-class tourism destination and also ensuring the activities undertaken consider the environmental impact ensures the island is an ecotourism destination. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation ensure the tourist destinations in Long Islands are conserved and minimize the visitor impact on the area. It also seeks to promote heritage tourism and improve public awareness of historical sites and local park resources (Rich, 176). The conservation and minimal visitors impact ensure the area can succeed in ecotourism. Guided historical tours in the museums and other locations in Long Island ensure the tourists enjoy the resources while protecting the environment and learning from the guides.

Education for travelers and the community is also an important aspect of ecotourism and well-practiced in Long Island. Education opportunities for bird watching, fishing, lectures, gardening, and workshops are undertaken in museums including the Nassau County Museum. The lectures also focus on nature and horticulture aimed at promoting environmental conservation. The department of environmental education staff provides environmental educational programs on Long Island that seeks to promote care for natural resources by locals and visitors. The programs are done in schools, naturalist-led hikes in parks and preserves, and evening presentations for families and adults. The Planting Fields Arboretum Historic Park is the most magnificent botany display in the Northeast and serves as a destination for school field trips and is a tourist destination. Fitness classes, nature conservation and exploration, musical performances, and summer camps for children are also provided at Sands Point Preserve, which also serves as a structural and natural beauty destination for hiking, jogging, and nature walks for the public.

The tourist attraction in Long Island includes bird watching, nature walks, and hiking considering the variety of bird species in the area. According to Lindsay (312), “ecotourism includes activities in which visitors enjoy hands-on experiences, such as bird watching” depicting the success of Long Island as an ecotourism destination. The beaches with fine white sand, beach trails, spectacular waves, picnic areas, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises are another attraction for tourists in Long Islands. The tourists can engage in fishing, diving, surfing, kayaking, and swimming and visits to parks including Sunken Meadow State Park, Robert Moses State Park, and Wildwood State Park among others. Art and culture are other ecotourism attraction in Long Island with the richly diverse history of the region presented in museums and galleries. The tourists could visit the Nassau County Museums of Art, Parrish Art Museum, and Heckscher Museum and view arts that represent not only the region’s history but also spark the imagination. Arboretums, history, science, and special interest sites are also present for eco-tourists to visit in Long Island. The preservation of the history and environment of the region is evident including former president Roosevelt’s summer house at Sagamore Hill and castle-like mansions built in the roaring 20s in the Gold Coast region. These buildings are conserved and form enjoyment destinations for visitors. An example is the Caumsett Mansion, currently a Historic Park, with visitors enjoying outdoor activities including bird watching and fishing and observing the gardens.

The focus of long island on ensuring the integrity of local cultures and ecosystems are protected through planning and management makes the destination succeed for ecotourism. The improvements of efforts to ensure limited environmental degradation from increased visitors and improved involvement of the local community in environmental conservation will aid Long Island to improve ecotourism.

Works Cited

Lindsay, Heather E. "Ecotourism: the Promise and Perils of Environmentally-Oriented Travel." Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. 2003.

Rich, Jason. Insider’s guide to Long Island. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

The International Ecotourism Society. What is ecotourism? http://www.ecotourism.org/what-is-ecotourism

Wood, Megan. Ecotourism: Principles, practices and policies for sustainability. UNEP, 2002.

October 19, 2022
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