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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!

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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. 

Green is big. And, so is greenwashing! Last week, I participated in the Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) that was held on Hilton Head Island. The conference was held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and it brought together hundreds of ecotourism business professionals, government officials and students to discuss ecotourism trends, business opportunities, and case studies.

I was rather excited to visit Hilton Head Island and this Westin in particular with its emphasis on wellness from the rooms to its surroundings to its restaurant menus. Although not a golfer, I thought it would be fun to explore the area, learn more about its history including the Gullah culture, and sample some great seafood and barbeque. What I didn’t expect was the blatant use of green marketing methods to confuse visitors into thinking they were being environmentally conscious.

The Lake of Stars Music Festival is a three-day international arts festival held on the shores of Lake Malawi, the third biggest lake in Africa. Now in its 8th year, this festival will run from September 30 through October 2 and promises to offer its best line up of Afropop, reggae, folk performers yet.

The festival is the brainchild of Will Jameson, who wanted to find a way to promote Malawi as a tourism destination, raise money for the country, and expose Malawian artists to international crowds. It is entirely run by volunteers and proceeds are donated to charitable projects close to the festival site as well as to UNICEF, Build Malawi, Malawi Health Care Support and the Microloan Foundation. Even the stages are built entirely from sustainable bamboo!

Stanley Selengut, dubbed as the father of sustainable resort development, opened Day 2 of the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) with an inspiring speech about how eco-lodge developers can bring properties into ecological balance within a surrounding area.

The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) 2011 commenced on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this morning bringing participants together from 21 countries around the world.

Posted by on in Eco Travel Tips

Oktoberfest, which is the world's largest annual fair and one of the best festivals in Germany, starts on September 18. Each year, millions of people from all around the world come to beautiful Munich to drink beer, eat sausage, admire traditional costumes and join together in song with Bavarian bands. If you are participating this year or perhaps making your plans to attend next year, here are some eco-travel tips for an eco-Oktoberfest to remember.

As new parents back in 2005, we naively decided to take our 7 month old across ten time zones for his first Christmas. My husband and I were just itching to go on a trip since we had been homebound for more than a year (between the pregnancy and the now the early infant months) and we foolishly thought "the baby is sleeping all the time – what difference does it make where he sleeps!"

Well, we were wrong, very wrong. It was during this trip that our cherub turned into an entirely different baby – and we learned the true meaning of surviving baby jetlag. Now that he's six (and we still drag him across many time zones), we have picked up a few tricks along the way for de-stressing and managing jetlag.

As an Athenian born Greek, I had the pleasure in my younger years of discovering archeological treasures such as the Acropolis and Delphi as well as traveling to many beautiful Greek Islands including Zakynthos, Sifnos, Tinos, Mykonos and Santorini. I’ve also traveled to Athens during one of many taxi, garbage, journalist, metro, pharmacist and even public worker electricity strikes. The electricity strike was particularly fun since we would be sitting in the dark wondering when the lights would come on again. But, it would only last a few hours every few days, so no one got particularly upset.

It still astounds me how the Greek people accept these strikes as a way of life. And, to be frank, I have said to myself more than once, that this will be the last time I come back to Greece for a very long time. Yet, every couple of years, I feel an attraction or pull that makes me long to visit this crazy, but stunning country again.

The United Kingdom, which is made up of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is consistently a top international destination for travelers. Earlier this year, even our family visited London to both introduce the city to our young son and discover what it had to offer eco-conscious travelers.

While our son immensely enjoyed visiting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and some of the city’s parks, we also appreciated the great variety of sustainable restaurants in London. However, venturing out of the city offers the responsible traveler many more choices to appreciate the pristine areas of the nation, including the wide selection of 28 natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The term family invokes specific images for some people. Traditionally, the rather rigid image was one of two parents (one man and one woman) with their 2 younger children in tow. Frankly, those Ozzie & Harriet days are over and, dare I say, have evolved to include the many variations of the types of loving families that exist today.

Tourism is the largest industry in the world and as such has the power to greatly benefit communities and elevate people’s standards of living. I had an opportunity to ask Enrique Valdes Garcia, who is the Cultural and Sustainable Tourism Director at Mayaland Resorts, which has been family owned and operated since 1921.

Its founder, Fernando Barbachano Peon, is credited as the nation’s first tourism industry pioneer that helped to introduce many travelers to the glories of the Yucatan and the magic of the Mayan culture. The properties have also been verified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Recently, I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Kym Cheatham, CEO of Ecotourism Australia, which is a non-profit organization that is Australia’s main ecotourism industry association. Here, she shares some great perspective on the importance of maintaining high ecotourism standards and encouraging triple bottom line sustainability.

Compared with the euro zone of Western Europe and some of the more summer tourist attractions in the United States, where economies are affecting the price of ecotourism services and price negotiations by consumers are relatively shunned, green travellers will be pleasantly surprised at how far their dollars will go in these nature and wildlife paradise areas.

These regions of the world have embraced the concept of ecotourism as a necessity not only for elevating their standard of living and conserving their natural and cultural heritage, but also providing a competitive edge in the travel industry.

The latest buzz word eco has unfortunately triggered travel suppliers to saturate the market with hundreds of loosely understood eco holiday-labeled travel products, causing consumer confusion as to what the term ecotourism truly represents.

Good intentions aside, while travelers want to make responsible vacation purchasing decisions based on ethical environmental standards for sustainability and conservation rather than marketing tactics, some common pitfalls befall most, including:

Most travellers mistakenly think that it is more expensive to travel abroad than vacation within the United States. Vacation planners often hear about the relative weakness of the U.S. dollar and automatically calculate that a trip overseas will break their vacation budget.

However, this not always the case if you consider that parts of Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are relative vacation bargains given that the value of the U.S. dollar against the local currency remains high along with the abundance of green and sustainable travel choices.

Vacation time is upon us all! And, whether you planned your vacation six months ago or six days ago, there is always that last minute distressed feeling of how is this all going to come together?

My last vacation planning tips article hopefully provided some helpful insight to selecting a vacation destination that would be both adventurous and relaxing for the whole family.

It’s a fact of life today that many adults and children suffer from severe food allergies or have specific dietary restrictions. Sometimes, the constant vigilance to avoid cross-contamination or foods with hidden ingredients coupled with language barriers prevent people from traveling outside the United States. Select Wisely aims to change this sentiment.

For regular readers of this blog, it may be of little surprise to know that I love planning family trips. I’m not sure if it is due to my type-a personality that encourages order (or meticulous flexibility as I see it) or the idea that I’ll be able to experience something new to share with my son or perhaps even learn something new about me. Whatever the reason, there’s pure joy felt when planning a family trip. Just recently, I was presented with a vacation challenge. With my husband recently having started a new job at a new company, I knew our traditional summer family vacation this year would have to be reconsidered.

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  • davidtolstoy
    davidtolstoy says #
    hi .. great post. My family and I almost always go on a vacation during the summer, and traveling with children can definitely be

Is travel insurance really worth it? That’s the question that often gets tossed around the travel community. As the General Manager of WorldNomads.com, I want to delve into some of the common myths and opinions about travel insurance that are out there (yes, we’ve heard them all) and weigh in with what I hope to be useful information on what the benefits of travel insurance truly are.

Blessed with striking mountains and rolling hills, as well as wild rivers and wetlands, Poland is a haven for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds as well as avid hiking enthusiasts. About the size of New Mexico and a destination for all seasons, Poland also has a thriving ecotourism and nature tourism industry that offers plenty of eco-activities for families.

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  • Sheerel Reddy
    Sheerel Reddy says #
    Poland is amazing place for vacation travel. The nature friendly and beautiful places attract the tourist to visit Poland. There a

In the midst of planning flights, deciphering train and boat schedules, or seeking out accommodations for your next family trip, another deliberation may be the need for additional vaccinations for yourself and your children. Currently, the only vaccine required to enter certain countries is the yellow fever vaccine. All other vaccines are only recommended. Nonetheless, there are various considerations that parents should take note of depending on the region of the world you will be visiting.

Just as London was preparing itself for the Summer Olympic Games, we decided to take a quick weekend trip over the pond to visit my family and get a feel for the city’s preparedness for the greenest Olympics ever. The marketing team that won the Games for London 2012 did so based on the premise that London would hold the first sustainable Olympic Games – ultimately going further than Vancouver did in 2010 with its LEED certified buildings and stadiums. So, of course I was very excited at the prospect of visiting Green London.

The eco-destination series continues with a summary of Ilha Formosa, or Beautiful Island, as the Portuguese explorers first called Taiwan when they discovered it in the early 16th century. Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. However, in contrast to the media images typically seen in the west, Taiwan is also distinguished for its steep mountains, beaches, national parks, lush forests and hot springs.

Given its topography that ranges from snowy Mount Everest to lush tropical valleys full of wildlife, Nepal has positioning itself nicely as a top ecotourism destination. Families can enjoy wilderness camps, white-water rafting, trekking and birding as well as participating in safaris all amidst spectacular flora and fauna.

New Zealand has long been regarded as a clean and green destination as a result of its rich and fragile natural landscape. But in recent years, there had been controversy as to whether its official environmental policies and practices were doing enough to protect and conserve nature.

For example in 2008, New Zealand promoted the extension of its Qualmark certification program to include responsible tourism practices. Then in 2010, after certifying more than 500 tourism businesses, New Zealand announced the de-coupling of responsible tourism criteria from Qualmark, and the creation of the Qualmark Enviro eco-label criteria. Confused yet?

It may not immediately come to mind, but natural rivers and springs are abundant in Jamaica. With over 120 rivers flowing through the country from the central mountain region to the coasts, and several mineral springs recognized for their therapeutic value, Jamaica is an easy ecotourism getaway for families. The fast flowing rivers, namely the Black River, Rio Cobre, Milk River, Rio Grande and Martha Brae, are not only used for transport and irrigation, but for the production of electricity too.

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