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Increasingly, it is argued that the growth of tourism had a paradigm shift from old tourism which includes inexperienced travel, mass consumption and the standardization to new tourism to face the prevailing circumstances. (Fayos-Sola,1996). The paradigm gives way to new products in the tourism industry adapted to the demands and expectations of the “new” traveler (Aparna Raj n.d, The New Age of Tourism and the New Tourists, Bundelkhand University). For instance, one of the leading branches of this industry is called ecotourism.
In line with the World Tourism Organization (WTO), ecotourism is defined as all nature-based forms of tourism in which the motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas.
In Mauritius, with the government’s aspiration of welcoming 2 millions of tourists by 2015, concrete measures have been implemented to promote ecotourism. A clear illustration would be the development of businesses that uses local resources and the principles of sustainable development.
However, with the fierce competition at regional and national level, the new paradigm tourism is laying much emphasis on the eco-label tourism. The term “eco” has become buzz-word (Bob Harvey; 1990) used by organization to differentiate themselves from the rivals in the market for more economic gain.
As the new tourists are more experienced, more educated more environments conscious, more flexible and more independent than ever before (Cater and Goodall, 1998; De Villiers, 1990), since 1990s a new strategy is being used by businesses to exploit their marketing potential. This is known as “green washing”.
In other terms, green washing refers to the false advertisement of a product that claims to be eco-friendly and in reality is not.
In today’s marketing world, companies are spending billions of dollars through advertising images and cosmetic changes. Undeniably, the concept of green washing is present in many fields. One of the famous domains is ecotourism as by definition is the managing of natural areas with conservation purposes. Knowing the difference between “real” ecotourism and marketing hype can often confusing.
As Mauritius is dedicated with incredible opportunities and exciting landscapes for ecotourism development in terms of chalets residences, hiking, trekking, quad biking, mountaineering, bird and dolphin watching, several attraction sites have been selected to identify where genuine ecotourism is practiced.
The Black River Gorges National Park as an Eco Tourism Spot.
The most visited site for nature lovers that is being promoted as an eco-tourist spot in Mauritius is the Black River Gorges National Park; which can be considered as a few of the rarest wild rainforest in the world. It contains 6,754 hectares of wildlife that is more than 250 varieties of plants and nine kinds of birds which are endemic to Mauritius including the famous pink pigeon, which was nearly to extinction. The park covers also 3.5% of the island which is located in the South west area. It is also very reputed for having and extraordinary natural beauty which is the Alexandra waterfall and it is an ideal background to the hills of Black River Gorge.
Black River Gorges National Park can be considered as a pure Eco Tourism spot in Mauritius as we have a minimize people who go hiking through the park. It also has low impact on the environment there are no roads and the most recommended means to visit the park is by foot as there are only hiking trails which can be found in the official map or you make request the guidance of someone experimented (a guide) and who knows the trails and the flora and fauna of the site. The best period to stop over the National Park is during the flowering season which is from September to January. You can come across the exceptional Dodo Tambalacoque, the black ebony tree and wild Chinese guavas which is very common in this region. Those who are passionate about bird, they must keep an eye of the endemic birds of Mauritius like the Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet for examples.
Furthermore, with the revenue obtain from tourist industry there are some funds which goes directly to the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation which acts like a protector and conservator of the Mauritian wildlife and natural scenery (fauna and flora) found in Mauritius. They protect these living things for all time, while helping visitors enjoy the landscape. You are invited to the experience of a lifetime. For example, you can expect to see the peculiar, umbrella-shaped Bois de Natte trees, which are often draped with orchids, fems and lichens. Although a same amount of visitors see the native birds, you can rest assured that the Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Kestrel are slowly rebuilding their numbers deep in the forest.
There are guided safari tours and day tours that visit ecologically-rich places so we need experimented guides and local guides as well; so it helps creating jobs for local people and helps in the social development of the region. There is an information centre to help visitors during their visit and to teach them a little more about the Mauritian flora and fauna. It opens from 9-3pm Mon-Fri 9 clock-4pm Saturday and Sunday and is located at the western entrance of the park, south-east at about 5 km from the Black River.
Casela Nature Park as an Eco tourism Development site
Casela Nature and Leisure Park extends across 14 hectares which is full with abundant old trees on a mild incline located in the West part of Mauritius between Flic n Flac and Tamarin village. It is one of the most interesting places to where you can stop over during holidays as you will see lot of animals and enjoyable as there are numerous activities. The park was originally created as a bird park, which included 90 aviaries compelling 1500 birds of 150 species. Currently it entertains quite a lot of other animals also namely Mauritian Macaques, lemurs, tigers, lions, Zebras, ostriches, massive tortoises, etc. Casela actually extends several possibilities to be in contact with wild animals and enjoying the stupendous experience of wildlife photography on a Mauritius holiday trip with your loved ones.
In Casela Nature and Leisure Park there are attractions for store of all age groups particularly the children will be delighted with the opportunity of caressing animals from the petty farm and they can also give food wallabies and pigs. The most indispensable and agreeable instant can be spent by petting zoo where infant deer can be enriched with milk; you can also come across chickens, ducks, ostrich, goats and many other little animals that can be fed there. For older ones there are activities like bike safaris, zip lines, the segway, where the visitors can find untamed boar, deer, and exotic birds. It can as well give the people the possibility to take pictures and enjoy the wild photography.
However Casela is another form of Eco Tourism, it is not a pure eco spot as we have bike safari, photo safari by bus, animal in cages and so on. But they respect a little the environment and cultural practices (Martha D. Honey, n.d). They are very involved in the protection of animals and old plants that are found in the surroundings. They also ensure that it provides a positive experienced for both the visitors and the host. While the host because it creates job opportunities, the development of the village and when the company invests in CSR projects.
Ecotourism can resume to travelling and contributing financially to local people and reduces to the minimal impact on the natural resources.
Valley de Ferney
Valley de Ferney, a nature reserve, is situated in the South East of the island; spread over 200 hectares tending to preserve the natural forest of its vicinity. With the uniqueness of its biodiversity, it accommodates more than 100 species of endemic plants.
Valley de Ferney can be a considerable reference for raising community awareness and providing educational experience with regards to biodiversity conservation and environmental protection
An establishment of a conservation Trust, mainly at Valley de Ferney Conservation Trust, since 2006 has taken place between the Government of Mauritius and CIEL Group.
This Conservation Trust main aim is to restore, protect and preserve the original fauna and flora of the Valley and respecting the rules of National Parks and Conservation Service.
The promotion of ecotourism at Valley de Ferney encourages people of the local community to consider Ferney Forest exceptional biodiversity.
The natural preservation Trust for the sake of ecotourism helps into the prevention of deforestation off the Valley.
Natural Resource Management
With regard to eco-touristic site management, Valley de Ferney Co. Ltd and Ciel Group are bided by the Valley de Ferney Conservation Trust to ensure their effectiveness in day to day management and good functioning of the site. They both ensure by collaborating to the management and not to disruption of trails and native habitats as well as litter.
In addition to fulfilling its mandate of promoting environmental sustainability, both Ciel Group and Valley de Ferney ensure that most employees are well trained so as to be able to offer a good quality of information, services and preventions guides. They also ensure that no large numbers of visitors enter the Valley, so as the natural habitats not to become disrupted.
Ile aux Cerfs (Deer Island) activities
Ile aux Cerfs (Deer Island) is very famous for its recreational activities on its beautiful sandy beaches It is also where the hotel Le Touessrok holds the concession, found on the eastern part of Mauritius the island is said to be part of the national heritage but the principle does not reflect the real will of those occupying it, the green washing aspect of the island is that campaign of “awareness and preservation” of the island’s ecologic side has been raised to but how far applied. About Rs 14.5 million revenues will be generated to preserve the island each year in order to keep it in a supposing good shape.
The deep truth
According to the most read, “Le Mauricien newspaper”, the green marketing behind is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly. The invasion of catamaran cruises or ferry boats transfer on a 24/7 basis are causing more than a harm to the island and its ecology whether on land or at sea. The island or party island has lost its charms and is no more what it should be or should have been. This abuse of the islands landscape is causing its death and the tarnishing of an historical land site, which is being under too much exploitation leading to severe environmental degradation, the two restaurants present on the island as well as the various barber queues that do take place everyday there contributes a lot to the islands degradation of nature. Hence it has no regards to the concept of ‘Maurice Ile Durable’.
Normally a business tends to fall in the green wash due to an increase of sale on the market. The same applies here concerning Ile aux Cerfs, portraying the idea that they are environmentally concerned but in reality neglecting ecology at large thus moving rapidly on the path of unsustainability.
Dolphin watching activities
As compared to another activity like the dolphin watching on the western part of the island at Tamarin or Le Morne ,the preservation of these aquatic animals are mere publicities to attract tourists and with the aim of an lucrative purpose, green tag to dolphin watching activities are simply a mask to prevent people from witnessing the truth. That is ecological damages like noise pollution and environmental disturbance like the releasing of petrol from the boats are good examples of how the environment is being degraded. This phenomenon of green washing existed since the island started to be economically fit and available on the tourist market
The activities on land or at sea
In both cases, that is whether on land or at sea ,green wash phenomenon is present and cannot be omitted .The lucrative mind set in businesses are making natural sites being tag with a green wash name on them.
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