Medical travel abroad isn’t just favorite because of the cost savings. On the other hand, in medical tourism, a patient’s entire procedure is planned and scheduled well in advance. Canada also sets long waiting benchmarks ranging from 16 to 26 weeks for non-emergency medical procedures like cataract and hip replacement surgery. While the medical travel industry has its benefits, it also has its share of drawbacks and concerns. A medical tourist can easily be susceptible to many diseases in the host country, where high standards of hygiene may not be available. Health complications could also arise during travel due to cramped seats in airlines and long distance flights. Even accredited hospitals in countries like India lack adequate complaint registering policies. Despite these shortcomings, medical travel seems to be the way forward unless countries like the United States can manage to cut their medical costs drastically or start providing medical tourism insurance.
Tourism is a booming industry. Air travel, car travel and other aspects of tourism are adding to the planet’s pollution crisis, and this is becoming a problem. Eco-tourism is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. Eco-tourism involves the conservation of biological and cultural diversity through education of locals and tourists alike. By protecting ecosystems, it has had a positive effect on the local communities and their livelihoods through their participation in projects and lessening the impact on the environment.
A tourist operator who offers eco-tourism is an operator who makes no negative impact on the environment and helps to sustain and promote the life of the local ecosystems. Their activities should not pollute the local surroundings and have a mutually beneficial relationship with residents through education of how to sustain themselves without damaging the environment. In South Africa, teaching locals how to make crafts from empty cans and used containers to minimise litter and help create a source of income is one example of this. The tour operator should also be involved in the education of locals concerning the environment and teaching them how to live in harmony with it, instead of destroying it. There are many benefits to eco-tourism, yet many hospitality providers claim they offer eco-tourism holidays and accommodation when they do not. Governments and tourism providers are leaning towards the promotion of anything which involves nature as eco-tourism, allowing activities which are not based upon the sustainable development of the environment and communities. Tourism ventures such as low-impact tourism, green tourism, bio-tourism and ecologically responsible tourism are advertised as eco-tourism when they do not fall into this category realistically.
The Problem of Eco-Tourism.
Many people flock to these tour operators and end up doing more damage to the environment than if they had not used a ‘green’ operator. They are destructive towards the environment, are insensitive towards cultural needs and exploit the tourism economy. Despite some operators meeting the guidelines, there may still be a negative impact on the environment and local communities. Eco-tourism operators need to have a thoroughly positive impact on the environment with few, if not no negative impacts. If there is a negative impact, this should be counteracted by some compensatory action such as planting trees and so forth.
South Africa is currently reaping many economic benefits from eco-tourism, but there are still problems with a displacement of people, violations of constitutional rights and negative impact on the environment from tourism activities. An eco-tourism operator should be involved in investing in the local ecosystems and conservation. Education of tourists, assisting the livelihoods of locals in supporting themselves without negative environmental impact and the conservation of biological and cultural diversity should be not only endorsed but achieved through eco-tourism.