Despite the many restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, some people still wish to travel and discover new places. Tourists who want to travel, while maintaining as many precautions as possible, often opt for ecotourism in Mexico. They can escape from the city’s isolation by surrounding themselves with nature.
Since mid-2020, ecotourism has increased. It has three fundamental elements: tourism based on nature, environmental education and local communities’ respect and promotion.
Many travelers pack only the bare minimum in their backpack, before visiting Mexico’s most important natural regions.
“Mexico has many nature reserves to offer,” said Adrían Quintero, environmental journalism teacher from the Universidad Popular Autónoma de Veracruz. “Veracruz has many places where few people venture, and many others known widely to the public. An integral part of ecotourism is exactly that — going to a place where they can achieve a connection with a natural environment.”
In Mexico, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) defines ecotourism as ‘trips that aim to carry out recreational activities and knowledge of nature through contact with it.’
Ecotourism: a spiritual connection
“The silence achieved by being unplugged in a natural habitat is something few people know how to appreciate. For me, it has even become something spiritual. I connected to myself and certain aspects of my life that I had ignored, due to all the stress my routine and the pandemic had brought,” said Quintero.
Despite how attractive ecotourism may seem, there are specific issues to consider before jumping into an adventure. Such a journey is far from the luxuries and services of daily life.
Many prefer to embark on such a journey alone, while others travel with friends and family. The only thing these adventurers share is their profound respect for nature.
“For a person to do ecotourism, they must respect the place they are going to visit. People have to maintain these zones. Any garbage they generate, they must take away when they go,” said Quintero.
In the state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, there is a wide range of low-traffic ecotourism sites, such as the Nanciyaga Ecological Reserve, in the Los Tuxtlas region. Here, it is possible to take a bath in the lagoon and live fully in nature.
“I had read a lot about Nanciyaga, but had not given myself the opportunity of going there. However, I happened to go with some girlfriends. I was surprised to see how unplugged from the outside world I could get,” said Nohemí Montoya, a marketing and communication teacher from the Cristobal Colón University.
“I had no phone signal and no electricity to charge my phone. There is no alternative: People have to connect. Introspection comes afterward, when people begin to think about themselves, and what they are getting out of their lives,” Montoya said.
Ecotourism also represents a business niche for governments that see it as a market opportunity.
As of 2019, ecotourism had generated $181 billion in revenue globally. Moreover, it estimates that between 2021 and 2027, the sum will rise to $333 billion, despite the pandemic, according to Allied Market Research, a business research and advisory firm.
“There are many travel agencies that present tourists with guided tours to do ecotourism. It depends on if they prefer traveling via an agency or independently. Although riskier, traveling on their own will always be cheaper,” said Montoya.