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Irene Lane

Irene Lane

Irene is the founder & president of Greenloons. She is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 32 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, Huffington Post blogger and radio talk show guest. 

Hiking from Chinchero to UrquillosOne thing that strikes you when hiking through Lares Valley in Peru (besides the effect of the altitude on your body) is the rugged beauty of the terrain. With its varying shades of browns, tans, and greens punctuated with bright blue skies and an eerie stillness to the air, you can’t help but feel to be a mere witness in a land that keeps time by the harvest and whose secret treasures have not all been revealed to outsiders.

I’ll always remember the quiet strength, the ready smiles and, of course, the colorful clothes of the women and men who accompanied us hikers (with oxygen tanks and other supplies at the ready) through this terrain.

Seaside Village in CreteWhat are the first thoughts or images that come to mind when you think of Greece?  Is it its beautiful clear waters and beaches?  Strikingly blue skies?  Its whitewashed buildings?  Music and dance?  Its history?  Contributions to philosophy and our political process?  Its delicious and healthy food? 

Perhaps, is it all of these combined images that make Greece one of the most iconic “bucket list” travel destinations in the world.  

As Greenloons’ Founder, I’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries (and even live in a few) around the world and, in my humble opinion, there is no comparison within the six continents I’ve visited, to Greece.  

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  • Kerry (Goodtrippers)
    Kerry (Goodtrippers) says #
    Making me hungry!
    I love the sound of this. Greek food is delicious and tastes even better while eating outdoors in Greece, preferably with a seavie

Logans Pass Continental Divide Glacier National ParkThis past July, my husband and I biked through one of our nation’s most iconic parks, Glacier National Park. Just one year earlier, the park was ravaged by fire caused by persistent drought in the region. 

Yet, this summer, signs of recovery – in the form of lots of sightings of bears, cougars, bald eagles and wildflowers – were already showing Mother Nature’s determination.

Glacier National Park, which was formed prior to the establishment of our National Park Service in 1916, is filled with many plant and mammal species as well as prairie, forest, alpine and, of course, glacial features.  

Bulgaria Girl near Belasitsa Nature ParkMy first impression upon crossing the border from Macedonia to Bulgaria was of the sweetness of both the air (its smell of hyacinths) and people of Bulgaria. 

Over the days, almost like a slowly blooming flower, I then began to discover its stunning vistas, burgeoning wine industry (not to mention their fantastic walnut liquor), variety of delicious food, fascinating history, adventure options, and an inherent joie-de-vivre of people who will sing and dance without much persuasion.

To me, Bulgaria is the next “hot” destination for family travelers because it’s safe, family-friendly, offers a very good standard of service, and has many options for hikers and foodies to history buffs and beach bums.

Green River Whitewater RaftingLast month, I, along with my 11 year old son and some other family members, embarked on a multi-day whitewater rafting and camping adventure along the Green River that connects Colorado and Utah.  

We considered ourselves to be relatively experienced for this trip given that I had participated in two days of whitewater rafting on the Pacure River in Costa Rica (Class III-IV) and rafted in the state of Veracruz in Mexico (Class III), my son had enrolled in a couple of day rafting trips around the Washington, DC area (Class II), and another family member obtained her whitewater rafting certification, as a young adult.  

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  • Sarah Smith
    Sarah Smith says #
    Thanks
    My family wants to plan a rafting trip. Thanks for the advice about how you should make sure you know the signals and practice the

Rock Climbing Outside SkopjeWhen I was four years old, my family moved from Athens, Greece to Lausanne, Switzerland so that my father could pursue a career opportunity.  

Thinking that it would be a fun adventure, my parents decided to drive to Switzerland through Yugoslavia.

All I remember from that mid 1970s road trip was seeing lots of mountains. However, last month, I had another opportunity to explore more closely Macedonia (also known as the Republic of Macedonia or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - FYROM) and what was most surprising to me was how many options there are for adventure travelers.

Women on Wheels in IndiaLast fall, G Adventures announced the 50-in-5 campaign as part of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  I had an opportunity to ask Kim McCabe of G Adventures, a few questions about the goals of this campaign and how it related to sustainable tourism as well as benefiting local communities socially, economically and environmentally.

What is your ultimate goal with the 50-in-5 campaign, as it relates to traveler awareness of sustainable community experiences?

G Adventures’ 50-in-5 Campaign will raise CAD $5 million (USD $3.9 million) to integrate 50 new social enterprise projects into the G Adventures portfolio within 5 years.

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  • Kelly
    Kelly says #
    Love G-Adventures!
    I've just finished reading Bruce Poon Tip's book Looptail and have been DYING to go on a G Adventures Trip since. I too studied Su
  • Irene
    Irene says #
    RE:Love G-Adventures!
    Thanks Kelly! We think they are doing good work as well, but by far are not the only ones who are benefiting local communities soc

Ambassador for the EnvironmentA few months ago, for our Spring Break, our family traveled to the Hawaiian island of Maui.  We chose Maui for a few reasons including the chance to experience Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, which is affiliated with three of Ritz-Carlton's Resorts (Maui, Grand Cayman, and Puerto Rico), and to better understand how the programs were affecting local communities, ocean conservation efforts, and of course children's understanding (and interest) in environmental issues.

Although we signed up for the Whale Watch excursion as a family, it was cancelled due to rough seas. However, our son did have the chance to participate in the Survivor program.

Hopineo West Africa TourLast year, I had the opportunity to meet game changer Florie Thielin of the Hopineo initiative, which endeavors to use the principles of the sharing economy to promote sustainable tourism.  In exchange for sharing best practices and providing specific recommendations for how responsible hotels and tourism boards can enhance their efforts, Hopineo provides access to experienced sustainability and marketing experts who only ask that their room and board accommodations be waived.

The founders of Hopineo, Justine and Mahery, have just embarked on a tour of West Africa.  While they were in Sine Saloum, Senegal, I had a chance to ask them some questions about their new project, which is also running a crowdfunding campaign through the end of February.

Monte Rufeno Olive PickingAs we walked along the short trail back from the olive grove, I began to smell fresh mint and other aromatic herbs underfoot, wildly growing on the side of the farmhouse, and instantly felt transported to a simpler time when families had to grow their own food and raise their own livestock to survive.

Although paling in comparison to those more likely difficult times, I still was satisfied with having taken part in the harvesting of an olive tree’s lovely green and purple colored olives ready for the first press. We collected nearly 90 lbs. of olives that morning and, once again, found ourselves at a large family-style Italian table ready for a feast.

For anyone who has traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the scene may be a familiar one. But, once you account for the details, you realize it is anything but common.

Greek CuisineI may be biased given my Greek heritage, but I think authentic Greek cuisine (I am not including the ubiquitous gyro) still represents the values of slow, farm to table cooking made with fresh, wholesome ingredients.  Whether you are a vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, it's easy to find a wide variety of healthy dishes when traveling to Greece.  For many though, the act of making Greek food seems arduous.  However, it does not need to be difficult.  

Meet Chef Maria Krina.  Maria is a co-owner of Droseriko restaurant in Patras, which is the capital city of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese.  She has made a splash in Greece for being outspoken about what is happening with food production around the world and for using purely organic, raw materials from local producers in Greece and Cyprus.  Her specialty is highlighting the forgotten Greek dishes of yesteryear.  

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  • Janice Hans Christian
    Janice Hans Christian says #
    EcoTourism
    This tour is related to ecotourism but not really apply the ecotourism activity,they just have the cooking class using the raw mat
  • Jeremy
    Jeremy says #
    comment of the ecotourism
    It was really an amazing experience on ecotourism.And also its a new type of tourism in our daily life.After i read this blog i wa
  • Ceren
    Ceren says #
    visit.org
    Hello Irene, nice article! I will surely add this to my to do list in Greece I work for a startup called visit.org and we are an o

Fogo Island Edge of the WorldAs our plane landed at St. John’s Airport in Newfoundland, we could hear the sound of joyful clapping and exhilarated Yahoo’s throughout the plane. That was a surprise to me because other than taking overseas flights to Athens, Greece (where it’s common to clap and make the sign of the cross for just about every blessing and gratitude you feel you have) I hadn’t heard anyone clap the crew for a safe landing in decades.

What we quickly found out was that for some passengers during our middle of July flight, it had taken three days to get back home to St. John’s from Toronto. "Welcome to St. John’s" said our flight attendant, "and for those who are coming home, you knew what you were getting into when you moved here!

World Summit on Sustainable TourismI have been a proud member of Sustainable Tourism Charter's ST+20 Scientific Committee for more than two years during which I have tried to advance the organization's goals for preserving common heritage, supporting tourism biodiversity, decreasing tourism's effect on climate change, wealth redistribution, and enhancing partnerships and innovation - the last of which specifically related to the development of a Return on Investment (ROI) Model for Sustainable Tourism.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in this growing and important field of tourism, later this year, from November 26-27, a seminal event will take place in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) to mark the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism.

Researcher at Bidoup Field School VietnamLooking for a unique way to 'pay it forward' and add to your resume with your sustainable travels? Spearheading an innovative program that applies responsible tourism practices with practical scientific research, the Bidoup Field School, will be holding a special 2 week program in January for budding researchers who want to combine their sustainable travels with the opportunity to contribute and advance tropical forest research.  

Located within the Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park in Vietnam, a newly named UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, researchers will first spend 9 days touring Vietnam with Dr. Nhu Hoa Le, bi-lingual guide and leading expert on sustainable tourism in Vietnam followed by a week of environmental research.  

Car Free Island of Hydra GreeceOne of the easiest ways to support sustainable travel is to select a car-free island for your next family vacation.

Car-free islands, generally, have a healthier population due to less air pollution and a less sedentary population, improved conditions for culture and leisure facilities, more space set aside for gardens and parks, more energy-efficient and water-efficient buildings (due to necessity), higher real estate values, and lower rates of crime, among other benefits.

To provide some additional eco-inspiration, while I've written about our travel experiences in Hydra, Greece and more recently Mackinac Island, Michigan, here is a list of other U.S States and countries who have designated entire islands as car-free.

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  • Syida
    Syida says #
    water pollution
    Hye! Thank you for the information. However, i have few points that are related to your post. I was thinking if the island is car

Volunteer Africa 32 Fair Trade Certified Wild Coast Schools Program Does this sound familiar?  You are a person with sought-after technical, teaching, and/or artistic skills that would love to combine your passion for travel with your pay-it-forward attitude.  You have the drive, but are unsure about whether that volunteer program that looks good to you (and your family) will actually help the community. How do you know that it will be a rewarding experience socially and environmentally?

Eco-certification goes a long way toward providing that necessary transparency and accountability, but until recently, there weren't any volunteer programs that were certified.  Enter Volunteer Africa 32 South

Approach to Ferry Port on Car Free Mackinac IslandThe more I travel, the more I appreciate, downright relish, the unhurried feeling of a pedestrian zone, where locals and visitors alike can only traverse by foot or bicycle (or maybe by an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage).

One can usually find a pedestrian zone within an historic center, such as we did in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Krakow (Poland) or within a national park, such as Maria Island in Tasmania (Australia).

However, lately, I've started to gravitate toward car-free islands where it is downright acceptable to slow down, meander through roadways and scenic areas, think, and even strike up a conversation with a passer-by or two.

Hoi An 1 vietnamOur new partner in Vietnam, Easia Travel, has taken the concept of green travel one step further than what is traditionally seen in southeast Asia by supporting specific environmental awareness, aquaculture training, heritage preservation, and gender equality initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of local communities as well as enhancing the travel experience for their clients.

We asked them to provide some additional perspective and insight into their sustainability goals, based on the results they are noticing from these various projects.

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  • Chihiro
    Chihiro says #
    Easia Travel’s actions and vis...
    By reading this article, I have a lot of interest about this travel agency, Easia Travel since their projects which they are takin

Irene Lane Founder of GreenloonsAs everyone knows, the green travel / eco travel trend is gaining full momentum, particularly among today's socially conscious consumers. However, just as green travel is becoming mainstream, so has the trend for greenwashing or fake claims of sustainability and eco-friendly practices, making it challenging for responsible tourism business owners to make smart, informed decisions.

This is why Greenloons has unveiled its Sustainability Consulting arm offering a variety of data-driven services to tourism business owners including the calculation of return on investment (ROI) for sustainable tourism, psychographic analysis of the American eco-traveler, eco-certification audits, and community development strategies.

Florie HopTrip Latin AmericaA few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Florie Thielin at the Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference in Quito and learning more about the Hopineo initiative.

It's a deliciously simple, but impactful idea! In exchange for sharing best practices and providing specific recommendations for how a responsible hotel can enhance their marketing efforts, Hopineo provides access to experienced sustainability, marketing and/or photo/videography professionals, among other skills, who only ask that their room and board accommodations be waived.

View of Hotel Verde from Wetland"We didn't even know this was possible!" the retired couple from England explained. They were vacationing in South Africa and due to a family issue had to quickly catch a flight from Cape Town back home. So, they checked into Hotel Verde for the night and found themselves as pleasantly surprised and intrigued by the hotel's green features and grounds as I was.

We were lucky enough to be given a personalized tour by Sarah, one of the most passionate and informed hotel marketing executives I've met in the sustainable travel industry.  While the 4-star Hotel Verde (owned by Bon Hotels) is primarily geared for the business traveler (with its complementary shuttles to the airport and the city center as well as ample conference room space), leisure travelers will find this hotel to be a treat as well.

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  • Jane
    Jane says #
    Comments
    There is no doubt that Hotel Verde brought a new concept of sustainable tourism. From the description of this article, I could tel

Horseback riding at the foothills of Cotopaxi volcano

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador to give a presentation at the Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC). Many speeches and declarations were made during the conference, but the most notable was when the Minister of Tourism, Sandra Naranjo, announced that Ecuador was partnering with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to create standards for sustainability in tourism.

A fantastic step forward indeed! But, what does that mean to you as a traveler?

As you consider traveling to the beautiful country of Ecuador, here's some practical examples of boutique hotels located in the Cotopaxi region that are already implementing standards of sustainability, namely Hacienda El Porvenir, Black Sheep Inn and Chilcabamba Eco Lodge.

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  • Nilufar sheikh
    Nilufar sheikh says #
    Sustainable Travel Through Cot...
    Sandra Naranjo, the Minister of Tourism announced that Ecuador collaboration with Global Sustainable Tourism Council about Creatin
  • Stacey Stovall
    Stacey Stovall says #
    Missed you at ESTC
    Hello Irene! I must have missed you at the ESTC in Quito. You and I talked a year or so ago re: your project to gather data on eco
  • Irene
    Irene says #
    RE:Missed you at ESTC
    Hi Stacey, It was a beautiful venue for a conference, but difficult to find people. Happy to share my ESTC presentation with you,

Cape of Good HopeOver time, I've come to realize that the destinations that affect me the most all over the world have been or are all a part of ancient trading routes.

Maybe it's the diverse mix of cultures that inevitably occur in port towns that translate to different architecture, food, music or art. Maybe, I just love the sea so much! Regardless, Cape Town was no different.

Although most of my trip was tied to a travel conference, I did manage to spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful city as well as discovering what individual communities and townships are doing to preserve their heritage and livelihood, which of course all translates to sustainability.  

Here is my list for exploring the eco side of Cape Town.

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  • WilliamJhon
    WilliamJhon says #
    WilliamJhon
    great
  • Robert
    Robert says #
    Robert
    You've once again managed to impress me quite a bit with this fantastic article of yours. Your work is flawless.. I have never bee

Jazz Safari in Gugulethu Township Cape Town South AfricaWhat is it that comes to mind when you find out that you are going on a Jazz Safari in Cape Town, South Africa? Sweet lyricism and melodies? Cultural viewing? Sharing a love of different Jazz styles?

Yes, yes, and yes with the added bonus of sharing a homemade meal along with some great conversation and laughs in a musician's home. While I am not a Jazz aficionado, I gained a greater appreciation for the struggles, stories, and triumphs that these musicians pour into their music.

Lumnishenca Wikipedia CommonsAfter what seemed to be an endless Washington DC winter filled with errant snow storms, sleet and frigid weather, our family realized that we desperately needed to experience the rejuvenating warmth of a sun, sand, and sea vacation.

So began the research to find a relatively uncrowded Caribbean island that would also fulfill our need for eco-adventure.

Eventually, we settled on St. Croix and although I was a little apprehensive about the traveler warnings for getting a mosquito-borne disease (Dengue and Chikungunya had been spreading for months), ultimately we were pleasantly surprised with St. Croix's vistas, quirky history, beautiful beaches, and hospitality – and I haven't yet even mentioned the great kayaking!

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  • Malha
    Malha says #
    Bioluminescent and Ecotourism ...
    Hello, i am student currently studying in Tourism and undergoing 'ecotourism' as a subject. I found the blog interesting as i come

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