There are plenty of eco tourism options all over the Middle East. With the vast range of habitats present in this relatively small region, it’s no wonder that eco tourism is gaining popularity in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran and Israel.
But volunteer tourism? That’s something new.
GoEco, a volunteer organization established in 2005 by Jonathan Gilben and Jonathan Tal (both of whom have degrees in Environmental and Geographical Studies), is a pioneer in introducing the concept of volunteer tourism to Israel. Volunteer tourism is a relatively new field in which travel benefits not only the tourist but the community that he or she visits.
Gilben said about GoEco‘s mission that “we believe in giving tourists the opportunity to get involved with the communities they visit… GoEco is the first and only volunteer tourism organization in Israel, and we have directed many participants to programs in Israel and abroad that are both inspirational and fun.”
We hope that the concept of volunteer tourism spreads all over the Middle East.
GoEco’s first volunteer project was an Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, on the Mediterranean Sea, in the summer of 2006. Since then they have successfully organized volunteer projects in Israel and all over the world – in locations such as Nepal, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Watch the clip below to see some footage from some of GoEco’s wildlife conservation programs:
Regarding why he and Tal decided to start GoEco, Gilben said that “we realized that there was a great interest in volunteer tourism, both among Israelis and among individuals from abroad who came to help. We believe that by organizing tours that bring people from around the world to help out in Israel, we are promoting a side of Israel that most visitors don’t get to see first-hand -the positive work of environmental improvement and community building that takes place in Israel every day.”
Some of GoEco’s current projects in Israel include ecotourism development in Nazareth, a long term wildlife program, creation of an ecological and spiritual center in the Carmel Mountains, volunteer opportunities at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, and learning hands-on about sustainable living practices at Kibbutz Lotan.
Read more about other environmental volunteer opportunities in the Middle East: