Welcome to Visibleasia.com, where you can embark on the great new world of sustainable tourism in Asia, Australia and New Zealand based upon the globally recognized 3 Pillars of giving back to local people and the planet including:
• Environmentally-friendly Practices;
• Support for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage;
• Contributing to the Social and Economic Well-being of Local Communities.
Asia covers about 30% of total land area and 8.7% of total surface area of the planet. It is also the most populous with 4.5 billion people, roughly 60% of the global population. The continent was the point of origin for many of the world’s first civilizations, and it is home to a great variety of ethnic groups, cultures, economies, and government systems. China and India alternated as the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. The Silk Road became the main East-West trading route in the Asian environs while the Straits of Malacca was the major sea route. Most of the world’s major religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism had their beginnings here. Asia also encompasses many different climates such as the equatorial south, the desert of the Middle East, temperate areas in the east and center, and the subarctic and polar areas of Siberia. The natural wealth of Asia is equally impressive. It is home to about one fifth of the world’s bird species. The list of indigenous animal and plant species is vast and varied, yet, at the same time, Asia faces the potential of seeing the most animal extinctions due to conflicts with humans. Rapid land development throughout the continent poses serious threats animals, environments and people. There are some areas of improved awareness about the risks of overly rapid expansion. Some of the most noted species such as tigers and giant pandas may benefit from conservation efforts, but many other animals remain under threat.
In the South Pacific, Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income. The population of 25 million is heavily concentrated on the eastern coastline. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, and World Trade Organization, among others. It is semi-arid or desert, but still has diverse habitats that include alpine heaths and tropical rainforests. It is recognized as a megadiverse country. It has an estimated 250,000 species of fungi alone, of which only five percent has been described. Much of Australia’s the flora and fauna is unique with some 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, and more than 45% of birds being indigenous. The nation of New Zealand is comprised of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, and some 600 smaller islands. It likewise developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life. Some species of birds, lacking predators, over time became unable to fly such as the kiwi, kakapo and weka. New Zealand has the greatest number of reptiles, 755 species, of any country. It was first settled by Eastern Polynesians between 1250 and 1300, who developed a distinct culture known as Maori. The first Europeans known to have reached New Zealand were Dutch explorer Abel Tasman and his crew in 1642. After the arrival of humans, heavy deforestation left less than a quarter of the country forested. Over the last three decades or so, New Zealand has moved from an agrarian economy to a diverse market economy. New Zealand conservationists have also pioneered methods to help threatened wildlife recover, including sanctuaries, pest control, wildlife relocation, fostering and ecological restoration.
Big Five Tours & Expeditions’ sustainable tourism vision was born in the very heart of the company, and harks back to the beginnings of Big Five in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1973, the founder and CEO, Mahen Sanghrajka, had a dream to share the beauty of Africa that he knew, growing up in Kenya, with small groups of like-minded explorers. Early on, before the idea of ecotourism was even born, he was part of helping to establish a code of ethics for wildlife safaris that included prohibiting smoking while near wildlife and training guides to teach travelers about respectful behavior near wild animals (for example – do not shout at an animal or bang on a vehicle roof top to get their attention to take a photograph). Today, those ideas may seem absurdly obvious, but in the early 1970s in East Africa, they were not.
In 1987, Big Five began taking travelers to the Galapagos Islands, and over the years we have witnessed startling and dramatic changes, as ever bigger cruise ships arrived, reminding us once again that fragile environments, like so many other cherished natural places around the globe, are under siege. That is why we are leaders and advocates for sustainable tourism (Big Five twice won the prestigious Virtuoso Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award, and our Founder, Mahen, has served multiple times as a judge for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards in sustainable tourism best practices. For more, visit “Sustainable Tourism”.
The goal of Visibleasia.com is help travelers and others understand the current sustainable efforts being made by countries in Asia and South Pacific. These counties, like most of the planet, face threats from significant habitat loss as well as the illegal trade in wildlife products. Sustainable tourism is vital to the survival of Asia and South Pacific wildlife as well as the wide-ranging cultural heritage and the future of these diverse human communities. The principles of sustainable tourism represent the positive power of travel to help transform societies, alleviate poverty and safeguard nature for future generations. We share with you how you as a fellow traveler can be part of this worthy effort. With our sister sites, Galapagos.com and Safaritours.com, our aim is to give you easily understandable information and third-party rankings to assist you in creating the trip of a lifetime, and doing it in a way that also gives back to people and the planet.