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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The Netherlands, best known for its tulips, wooden shoes, windmills and canals, also has its own eco-label for environmentally friendly businesses called the Green Key (formerly called the Milieubarometer).
Originally created in 1998, the Green Key focuses on “internal and external communications, sustainability in the management of the company, use of energy, gas and water, waste management, transport, food & beverage, gardening, sustainable measures in the office, paper usage, type of printing, and sustainable procurement.”
With the advent of words such as green, environmentally friendly, sustainable and eco as powerful marketing slogans, it should come as no surprise that many organizations within the tourism industry have adopted these terms to attract consumers. There are financially lucrative reasons for marketing hotels and vacation activities in this manner since surveys have indicated that consumers are willing to pay a premium for a product when they are aware that an organization is environmentally conscious.
Just because you are going on a family vacation doesn’t mean that learning should take a break too. Ecotourism is full of what educators call teachable moments or, more definitively, unplanned opportunities to explain a concept that has unintentionally captured a child’s interest.
Whether it is touring the rainforests of the Amazon, observing blue footed boobies throughout the Galapagos Islands or understanding the water issues that surround the Okavango Delta in Botswana, ecotourism is a vacation experience that provides boundless opportunities to teach younger generations about the fragility of ecosystems and the significance of heritage.
While not the first place you would think of for ecotourism, Jordan’s natural landscape of waterfalls and canyons as well as the Dead Sea and the Mujib gorge, which enjoys the distinction of being the lowest elevation nature reserve in the world, are placing Jordan on the map of new ecotourism destinations.
Our last stop on our introductory tour through Costa Rica that included Finca Rosa Blanca and Pacuare Lodge, was San Jose, where the CST Level 4 certified Grano de Oro was grandly perched and waiting for our arrival. The Grano de Oro, which literally means “grain of gold” referring to the coffee bean and the effect it has had on the Costa Rican economy, is a small boutique eco hotel consisting of 21 rooms and a café restaurant.
If this is ecotourism, count me in! That was what my husband said after stepping off the inflatable raft we had been on for the last hour and a half. We had arrived at Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica and had been greeted by the manager with a big smile and an even bigger cup of hot chocolate – just in case the tepid water temperatures were too much for us northerners.
We were in the middle of the rainforest approximately 70 miles due east from San Jose and it was gorgeous scene. The Pacuare River is one of the Top 5 Rivers for whitewater rafting mostly due to its length, natural scenery and variety of class rapids. Almost every day, unless the water is too high, day trippers line up to tackle the six hour journey through Class II, III and IV rapids toward the Caribbean. But alongside those day trippers were a few of us couples and families who wanted the extra excitement of staying at the Pacuare Lodge.
Our first impressions of San Jose reminded us of the surrounding hills and valleys of the San Francisco Bay Area in California. My husband and I had just landed (via San Salvador) and the warm, moist air was a lovely change from a winter up north that just cannot seem to lose its grip on the Washington DC metro area. The next impression we had was that while we were most definitely in a developing country in Central America, the people are some of the friendliest, sincerest and well educated in the entire region.
In general, European vacationers view ecotourism as a way to minimize their carbon footprint entirely by first traveling by train, for example, and then staying in rural areas where they can hike or go camping. To that end, a European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (CETS) was developed in 1995 to “to improve the sustainable development and management of tourism in protected areas, which takes account of the needs of the environment, local residents, local businesses and visitors.”