It was a surreal experience to visit the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in Ecuador last March. Surreal because there was an emotional tug-of-war going on inside me to enjoy the ecological wonders of the area, while at the same time uphold the principles of ecotourism.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ecotourism Blog!
Welcome to the Greenloons Blog, your go-to ecotourism / sustainable / responsible (or whatever term you feel comfortable with) travel resource. Here, you will find eco travel destination profiles, environmentally friendly travel tips, ecotourism certification information, eco trip reviews and much more! Read, share and let us know your thoughts about ecotourism!
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.
Marinus Gisolf is a man on a mission – empowering tourists to become an active partner in sustainable tourism. Marinus began his professional career first as a tour guide and then as general director for Ecole Travel, in Costa Rica. As part of his duties, he was not only responsible for the company’s sustainable operations, but also for setting up Ecole Travel agencies throughout Ecuador, Argentina and Panama.
In 2005, he published the book, The Functionality of the Tourism Supply Chain and followed it up with Tourists and Sustainability in 2009. After Ecole Travel obtained its Level 5 Certification in Sustainable Tourism (CST) accreditation in 2010, Marinus decided to start his next venture, Tourism Theories. I had the opportunity to ask him some questions about where the sustainable tourism industry stands today.
This short video depicts the natural beauty of Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Located in the northeastern part of Ecuador, near the border with Columbia, the relatively new national park contains rivers, swimming lagoons, and a floating forest. It is also abundant with life.
Last month, I spent five days in the Quito area of Ecuador and was enthralled by the region’s austerity, beauty, history and green mindset. Upon first glance, Quito’s topography is breathtaking - simply astounding! Over the course of my short stay, I visited many conservation-minded sites all within a 2 hour radius of Quito and was amazed at the diversity of culture and colors.
When it comes to green travel, we could learn a lot from the Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden. Our series "how ecotourism brings about positive community changes" continues with our interview with Anders Junler, who along with his wife IngMarie, manages Vildmark i Värmland, one of our certified ecotourism partners. What became obvious during the interview was that nature preservation is such an endemic part of the Swedish culture that expectations are high for sustainable tourism companies.
One of our partners, EcoCamp Patagonia, has the remarkable distinction of opening the world’s first Geodesic ecotourism accommodation. Since EcoCamp’s opening in 2000, the environmentally-conscious design concept has sprung up throughout Chile, Argentina and Switzerland. I had the pleasure of posing some questions to Yerko Ivelic, co-founder of EcoCamp Patagonia about the catalyst for developing this innovative green building design.
In an effort to encourage the development of sustainable tourism in Alaska, one of our partners, Discovery Voyages, has been working with the Alaska State Parks, Chugach National Forest, National Wildlife Federation, and others to develop the Prince William Sound Marine Trail as a world-class water trail along the coast of Prince William Sound. I had the opportunity to pose some questions to Captain Dean Rand concerning the catalyst for developing the Marine Trail.
I had the pleasure of meeting John Kiseda, Education Coordinator for Sustainability for Florida’s Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, during last September’s Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC). I was thrilled to learn from John that the state of Florida had recently implemented its own eco-certification program for tourism suppliers.
Our ecotourism conservation spotlight continues with a profile of Ecoventura, a certified sustainable tour operator in the Galapagos Islands and its pledge to sponsor 12 local student scholarships for one Ecology Project International course to study conservation and ecology-related issues.
I had an opportunity to post some questions about this amazing program to Doris Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing at Ecoventura and Ana Maria Loose, Director of Galapagos Ecology Projects at Ecology Project International. First, watch this video to learn a bit more about Ecology Project International.
How do you know that your eco-travels can make a huge impact on wildlife conservation? One practical tip is to investigate exactly how much an ecotour operator is contributing toward conservation efforts. One such example of true ecotourism can be found in Vietnam.
The Intrepid Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that supports non-governmental organizations in the areas that Intrepid Travel visits, has been supporting a range of conservation projects at the Cuc Phuong National Park, including endangered primates rescue and small carnivore conservation since 1997. I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Jane Couch, Responsible Travel Manager at Intrepid Travel to understand their impact.
Last September, I had the pleasure of meeting the Director of Spirit of Japan Travel, Masaru Takayama, who founded the company in February, 2008 so that local communities interested in ecotourism could market directly to travelers from America and Southeast Asia, rather than through mass tourism travel agents. I had an opportunity to ask him some questions about the state of sustainable travel in Japan in the wake of the devastating tsunami earlier in 2011.
What does the term “obtained a qualified third party eco-certification” really mean to travelers? Is it a “green” seal of approval? Does it mean that a tourism supplier is also operating in a sustainable, responsible, local and eco manner too?
In a newly released Greenloons Consumer Guide to Eco-Certifications, we explain that lure of playing in the billion-dollar annual eco-travel market means that over the last decade, there has been an oversaturation of loosely applied and misunderstood eco-labels that often set the consumer up to pay higher prices often associated with ecotourism. But it doesn’t need to be confusing or expensive.
Egypt has always captivated me not just because of the uprising that started one year ago today, but because a few generations of my family years ago lived in Alexandria, Egypt located north on the Mediterranean Sea. I grew up with stories about pashas, long walks along the Corniche, and, of course, huge family Sunday meals. While culture and heritage certainly can explain the draw for me, it is also the many natural treasures of the country that appeal to me as well.
Ten years ago, my husband and I went to Thailand for our honeymoon. While we were enthralled by the vibrancy of Bangkok and the lushness of Phuket, environmental responsibility was definitely not the first adjective that came to mind during our travels – instead we could describe Thailand’s phenomenal food, extraordinarily friendly people, scarily bad taxi drivers, and unusually painful Thai massages.
This is why I was so pleased to read last week about Thailand’s expanded focus on environmental protection – a process that began in 2003 and has expanded to the level that Governor Suraphon Svetasreni of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced a few weeks ago "The need to reconcile the economic and ecological impact of travel and tourism is critical to the balanced strategy that we are pursuing as part of our tourism development policies."
It’s that time of year when winter doldrums turn to revelry and fun in New Orleans. Considered to be the biggest free show on earth, Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday”, signifying the last celebration before Lent, will be held this year on February 21.
But Mardi Gras is not the only day of festivities. The Carnival Season in New Orleans actually began on January 6 and continues with celebrations each week culminating to the main Parade Krewes (complete with floats, music, and beads) starting on February 4. The experience provides a wonderful vacation break for the entire family.
Like many of us during this time of year, I love taking the time to reflect on how well my plans compared to reality, and, more importantly, how grateful I am for the little surprises that came along the way in 2011. One such surprise was during our family trip to the small Aegean island of Alonissos, Greece.
If you are like me, you enjoy purchasing children’s gifts that inspire, educate and delight! If you are also running short on time to buy those last minute Holiday gifts like me, here are some suggestions for Holiday gifts that help children appreciate the wonders of renewable energy resources as well as the flora and fauna around them.
One of the primary aims of Greenloons is to educate consumers to understand both the similarities and different nuances among the various tourism certifications that exist across the globe today.
While we have offered an easy reference guide to help consumers, it can still be confusing. So much so, even tourism suppliers themselves, who are only trying to operate their businesses in a responsible, ethical and environmentally-friendly manner, can be puzzled by the distinctions.
Lately, I have received a few questions about the difference between Rainforest Alliance verification and certification, which has prompted this posting.
When you travel to a new region or land in the world, there is always an experience that sticks with you. It could be something ordinary, such as a brief moment of complete relaxation when you learn something new about yourself or something quite profound, such as a chance meeting with a wise local that provides you with a different perspective about life.
Last October, when I traveled to Mexico for the Adventure Travel World Summit, I had such a profound moment when listening to Pati Ruiz speak, laugh, sing and cry about her mission for empowering the communities of the Sierra Gorda region of Mexico.
Perhaps it's the American mindset of independence, but the concept of working with a travel guide is not as popular for seasoned travelers. I admit that for many years, I was of the belief that traveling on my own offered the most authentic travel experience given that I could vacation without a schedule or a timeline – and not be bothered by a so-called expert guide.
A few days ago, a recent college graduate, Jessica McGarry, submitted her story on the Community section of this website detailing her educational credentials, passion for the environment and professional experience within tourism and hospitality industries.
By describing her career since graduation, she also offered (perhaps inadvertently) some job counseling advice to readers and other new college graduates. At the end of the article Jess then asked the question that may be on many readers’ minds and which has prompted this Blog post, “I'm wondering if you could suggest how to connect with Ecotourism operators that are looking for my type of profile?”
One of my most favorite moments during a vacation comes when another tourist asks me (or my husband) for directions. That gesture represents a couple of concepts to me. First, it means that we do not look out of place – even in a foreign country – and second, it means that our family is doing as the locals do and therefore we are appearing relaxed with our surroundings.
When I first heard that this year’s Adventure Travel World Summit was to be held in Chiapas, Mexico in the small, colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, frankly I was a bit nervous. I, along with everyone else, had been inundated with graphic and violent images of tourists, seemingly innocent civilians and other not-so-innocent people being killed and wondered whether it was worth traveling to Mexico right now.
It is never too early to teach children about the wonders of nature. In honor of the back to school season, here are my recommendations for kid’s travel books that focus on environmental issues in an informative, yet empowering manner.
Diwali or the “festival of lights” is a celebration of the inner light that exists in all humankind. The holiday is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians. This year, the festival will begin on October 26 and will continue for five days. It is very much a family celebration with traditional activities including preparing colorful entrances to homes and businesses, baking special foods including sweets, wearing new clothes and jewels, lighting candles and incense sticks, and setting off lots of (not so eco-friendly) fireworks.