Lesson learned from COVID-19 should spur focus on ecotourism: expert – Focus Taiwan

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world that human beings’ destruction of biodiversity can be stopped and nature can do better without mankind’s negative impact, and going forward, sustainable and environmentally-friendly tourism should be the trend, according to a keynote speaker at an international conference on ecotourism that opened in Taiwan on Friday.

“Biodiversity is declining globally, faster than at any other time in human history,” said Srilal Miththapala, CEO of Serendib Leisure Management in Sri Lanka, speaking through a pre-recorded video during the two-day “New Horizons-International Conference on Ecotourism Taiwan 2021,” held Friday and Saturday at Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau.

He pointed out that biodiversity is important to human health, economies, and livelihoods, but the world’s 7.6 billion people has caused the loss of 83 percent of all wild mammals and half of all plants, even though they represent just 0.01 percent by weight.

During the pandemic when many cities underwent lockdown, nature has shown the ability to continue living, making clear the negative impact from humans when that impact is reduced, Miththapala said.

“We have developed a greater awareness of sustainability issues, our responsibilities towards future generations and the consequences of our actions on the environment around us,” Miththapala said.

He suggested sustainable and environmentally-friendly tourism as the way forward with possible new trends such as more eco-conscious travelers, less crowded destinations, off-season travel, “remote escapes” places, and exploring less popular and off-the-beaten-track attractions.

The conference invited domestic and international experts to talk about opportunities and concerns.

Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶), whose office is in charge of managing 18 national forest recreation areas comprising of 35,458.53 hectares, expressed a desire to attract young people to appreciate natural beauty.

He said he wanted to transform what would be thought of as a traditional holiday into something that would also be popular with young people.

“We want to turn around the mindset of older ideas to a new look in order to attract young people to visit the recreation areas,” Lin said. “All of the preparations are aimed at aligning with international standards and showcasing the recreational areas to the world.”

Meanwhile, Tony Charters, former deputy chair of Global Ecotourism Network and founding director of Ecotourism Australia, said uncertainty and business risks are still here to stay because there are so many unknowns in health and climate change.

“There are a lot of ramifications from COVID that we are still learning to understand and I think we’ll see over the coming months a lot of impacts to business to the community that weren’t foreseen at this point,” Charters said.

The conference, organized by the Taiwan Ecotourism Association (TEA), will hold a total of four sessions discussing “Opportunities for Eco-tourism under COVID-19,” “Ecotourism and Sustainable Development,” “Community-Based Ecotourism” and “Refocus and Rejuvenation.”

TEA President Yuri Guo (郭育任) said this is the 20th year since the establishment of the association and he has invited 16 experts from Taiwan, Japan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Bhutan, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom to share their views at the conference.

(By William Yen)

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Source: Einnews

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