I recently received a questionnaire on Eco-tourism with some good short questions, such as do you tell your guests about the Culture and Heritage of the area. Do you talk to your guests about the environment etc.

And then it asked what I thought Eco-tourism meant and my answer given of the cuff was as follows.

‘I would say Eco-Tourism is the provision of a holiday product where the provider tries to minimise the impact of their activities on it’s Environment, which includes the Ecology, Landscape, Culture and People.’

I don’t know if this is a good or a bad answer, I think it a bit of a blunderbuss answer in that everything is in there, nothing is missed a bit like the famous Eric Morecombe quote, ‘I am playing all the right notes, but necassarily in the right order…’.

There is an expression bandied about in tourism relating to minimising ones impact on a destination,

‘Leave nothing but foot-prints, take nothing but photographs.’,

and that, though simplistic, is a correct approach.
I remember as a child, that a local Forest Park had to put up signs to deter people from taking cuttings, as it was beginning to threaten the viability of certain plants. On the issue of leaving nothing but footprints, this is simplistic in the sense that too many footprints can lead to Erosion. The famous Mourne Wall Walk of the 70’s and 80’s had to be abandoned as on one Sunday in June up to 3,000 people would turn up to do the walk and if this followed a wet spell it could lead to serious erosion, in places the turf was eroded of a path, in places, some 6 metres wide adjacent to the wall.

As I type this there is a little filler programme on TV about walking in the Mournes, what a coincidence! It is on BBC NI and presented by the enthusiastic Darryl Grimason, some of the graphics showing the routes on a 3D OS map are very good and there is a series of these programmes showing walks in the Sperrins, Glens of Antrim as well as the Mournes. There is a website associated with the programme which I hope remains extant well after the programme is off-air. Click on and see what happens, you can click on the individual walks which are listed down the righthand side of the window and seen as red blobs on the map of N. Ireland.

The actual site is absolutely fascinating, associated with a very good Television programme about how Ireland came in to being in geological terms, where it’s people came from, and much more a really good informative resource.

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