Ecotourism – from conflict to collaboration

Back in the 1980ies, critical ambassadors for nature started to think about the role tourism has to play for nature conservation. Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, one of the great heroes of that movement, coined the term ‘ecotourism’ in 1983 – 20 years ago!

We are proud that at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark we strive to apply the ideas of real ‘ecotourism’. We managed to go from conflict when the park idea was first communicated, to collaboration with the local people and Bedouin shepherds who are now respecting and protecting the ecopark. What a success!

But what does ecotourism really mean?
Probably due to the syllabus “eco”, many people think that ecotourism means only spending leisure time in nature. Ecology is a renowned concept which businesses, governments, and individuals try to apply. The pre-syllabus “eco”, however, means more than ecology:
it is derived from the ancient Greek word “oikos” which means “house” or “home”. So ecotourism means that tourism is used to sustain that “home”, in that case a protected area and the local settings of it.

In the Jordanian culture, the “house” and home are the most important places for people. It is inspiring to see how much effort families are putting into keeping their homes neat and nice. But where does “home” end? On the street in front of your house? Or when leaving the village? Home in today´s times means actually the entire planet: Our planet is our home, and by religious and societal settings we ought to protect it. So, the idea of “eco” in eco-tourism needs to be viewed from a global perspective. Tourism has to play an active role to protect the planet, to protect nature and biodiversity, as well as help people in ecotourism destinations to earn their livelihoods with it. Both, tourists and hosts have to protect the environment, just as they do protect their homes and families.

Think about the idea we follow at the ecopark:  We look after nature as our “home” and use the income generated by our visitors to maintain the protected area as a safe place, and offer facilities that make your stay comfortable and a great nature experience.
For us, doe you, for Jordan’s wildlife. Ecotourism is about linking Tourism and Conservation. And particularly in protected areas, such as the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh ecopark, eco-tourists can make a difference and contribute to conservation.

But eco-tourism goes beyond that! It also wants people to travel in a responsible way, that means, to be interested and take part in the local culture, local customs, architecture, livelihoods, cuisine and resilience of neglected communities.

At the ecopark, we want to live this vision of eco-tourism. We are connected to the surrounding villages and employ local people. They know best what is needed and what is feasible! And they help us protect the park from invading goat herds and other threats.

Working in that way requires a lot of commitment and energy. And we know we can only succeed when our visitors, local, national and international ones, are supporting us.

We call everybody to take care of the park and respect its rules. Our aim is to keep the ecopark as a beautiful site where animals, wild plants and men live together in harmony.

Sharhabil Bin Hassneh ecopark is a unique site where you can experience the value of nature conservation and the inclusion of the local population. Since its beginning, we worked hard to gain the support of locals and together made the ecopark a reality.

Today, we encourage tourism businesses to join us in our conservation and environmental education efforts and include the ecopark in their programs. Only then can we succeed in protecting the ecopark as a ecotourism site.

Only with our joint support can we protect Jordan´s biodiversity. We want to raise awareness of our visitors and encourage them to support the ecopark financially through their stay, when purchasing the services and products, helping us with word-of-mouth promotion and share their ideas with us!

And if you are up for a volunteering-experience at the ecopark, contact us with your ideas and time availability.

We are looking forward to your visit!

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