Eco tourism is a still growing market, with tourists gaining a growing awareness of the carbon footprints on the countries through which they are traveling.

China, a country still suffering a reputation as one of the most polluted countries in the world, has begun taking tentative steps towards promoting a cleaner, greener image for their tourism campaigns.

China′s Ministry for Environmental Protection (MEP) and the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) have released a survey on the current state of eco tourism in China.

The survey found the eco tourism market continues to expand, and a variety of destinations including nature reserves, forest and wetlands parks and scenic spots have been set up under the program.

China is still an emerging market in terms of the power of the green tourist, and the survey recognized a large number of areas where eco tourism strategies were undefined.

The importance of ensuring further eco tourism was highlighted in a statement from Conservation International China, Country Director Lu Zhi, reflecting positively on the future for eco tourism.

€œThere is a demand for more eco-tourism in China. Its popularity is not spurred by scientist or government, but is emerging in response to market demand. As the economy grows and more and more Chinese people have disposable income, people′s interest in tourism will ultimately become more diversified and high-end oriented.€

The survey highlighted problems in the current state of eco tourism in China: issues in management, regulation and policy and informational stages of development.

The survey revealed a lack of awareness and implementation of environmental regulations and protection of tourists.

Both the MEP and the CNTA have been responsible for developing China′s growing market in eco tourism, and conducted the eco tourism survey. The survey was conducted over eight months and polled 6556 tourists and 92 management staff.

In response to the problems found with China′s eco tourism, the Ministry for Environmental Protection and the China National Tourism Administration released a list of eight strategies.

The strategies aim to correct the problems found with China′s current implementation of policies.

–    The establishment of various laws and regulations enabling eco tourism to be certified, and to regulate the development of the industry
–    The set up of an inter-departmental way of providing services and guidance in relation to eco tourism
–    Strengthening environmental supervision over eco tourism. Including establishing ways to quickly ensure the environmental quality of tourist destinations
–    Encouraging environmental and low-carbon infrastructure with tailor made solutions for the best possible travel experience
–    Supporting and increasing scientific research in relation to eco tourism
–    Encouraging local government to develop policies in favor of eco tourism
–    Training and developing a professional eco tourism team with a full understanding of the concepts behind eco tourism and desirable management skills

On the positive side for further eco tourism Conservation International China, Country Director Lu Zhi mentioned the diverse landscapes of China and its natural beauty, a factor which will continue to draw tourist numbers.

€œIn Western China, there are abundant and unique eco-tourism resources, possibly unrivaled worldwide. The towering and majestic Himalayan mountains, glaciers, gorges, and pristine turquoise lakes and rivers all entice the imagination.

€œThese hot spots of global biodiversity contain unique temperate forest and endangered species like the giant panda, golden monkey, and Tibetan antelope. Broad grasslands, wetlands, and deserts present an endless horizon for the explorer.€