Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)
Principles of Ecotourism
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:
- Minimize impact.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
SSCW adopts a proactive vision of the tourism industry by which it creates new job opportunities to host communities, enhances responsibly national infrastructures and services and reduces negative impacts on man and nature.
SSCW advocates for an ecotourism mission in Syria that promotes responsible travel to natural sites while conserving nature and local values and heritage. SSCW aspires that the interaction of visitors, local communities at Syrian natural sites will create a positive ecotourism that renders environmental, economic and social services.
Syria is a great tourism destination rich in culture, ecosystems and diverse hospitable local communities. In 2010, Syria had 8.5 million tourists who created a tourism revenue of $8.4 billion that represented around 14% of the national GDP. During the period of 2004-2011, SSCW played a pioneering role in advancing ecotourism activities in Syria.
By 2020, the losses of the tourism sector due to the crisis in Syria passed $2.3 trillion with general destruction of historical and religious sites as well as direct tourism facilities and the jobs lost in the industry. The economic valuation of losses in the natural resources are yet to be defined.
Nevertheless, Today SSCW considers ecotourism, more than ever, a major tool to contribute to the recovery of the tangible and intangible historical and natural heritage, local communities and economic cycle.