Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ecotourism Blog!
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I’m constantly being asked What’s your favorite ecotourism destination? and my answer is always It’s the destination that has placed emphasis on tourism that benefits local communities.
Thankfully, unlike a decade ago, there are more examples of communities stakeholders that are banding together to discuss sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, youth education, as well as cultural and heritage preservation activities. So, for those of you who have placed travel high on your list of 2018 resolutions, here are 8 of our new favorite ecotourism experiences.
What 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.
My 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.
Last 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.
My journey to Jordan began in 2005. Having never travelled to the Middle East, the first time I looked at a map of where Jordan was, I was a little unsure what to expect. However, within moments of arriving at Queen Alia Airport, I felt welcome and happy to be there. Ten years later and this feeling of happiness, security and hope has not faded.
Despite the challenges we, as a country, are facing with our neighbours, Jordan has, is, and I hope always, will be a land of safety, legendary hospitality, and breathtaking beauty. With the unrest in the region, tourism has unsurprisingly dropped significantly and in towns like Petra that rely on tourism for their livelihood, times are tough.
As 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.
As 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!”
There's so much that surprised me during my trip to Ireland last October from the people (extraordinarily friendly souls who have a penchant for going out of their way to help others) to the vistas (there's a reason people call it the Emerald Isle) to the music (celebrating humanity's full range of emotions from sadness and tragedy to joy and passion) to the food (sustainably sourced by necessity and simply delicious) that it's hard to pick out a moment that stood out above all!
But, I can and that moment was during an e-biking trip along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is high on many people's travel bucket lists – and with good reason!
When our family traveled there this summer, I was awestruck by this beautiful coastal city from the moment we first walked through Pile Gate into the Old Town. The sound of the birds, the lively chatter of families strolling along the Straden, and the lack of advertisements and restaurant hawking were apparent.
I also was immediately struck with the idea that Dubrovnik was completely different from any other southern European city we've visited because of its compact layout, focus on local products and provision of numerous family-friendly activities.
I'm of the belief that children need to start traveling while they are still young. The mere act of going to a place that is unfamiliar in terms of landscape, food, culture, history and maybe even language encourages children to develop organizational skills, a sense of independence and greater responsibility.
This was put to the test this summer when, armed with one rollaway bag and two backpacks, my 9-year-old son and I went on a seven week trip through four countries: Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Scotland.
When my husband and I first met – almost 18 years ago – he didn't even have a passport. He had traveled to Canada and Mexico of course, but back then, one only needed a valid U.S. driver's license to cross the border back into the United States.
This may have sated him, but given my frequent inclination to travel overseas, I plainly declared a couple of months into the relationship, "If you want this to work, you're going to need to get a passport."
It's amazing how travel can inspire that moment of clarity for a young child where s/he understands a bit more about their world! That's what happened to our son during a recent trip to Rome, Italy when he suddenly realized the technical contributions made by the Romans (and Greeks).
No doubt, you've seen interesting and wonderful photos of the Himba women of Namibia. Their skin and hair that are completely covered in a reddish hue, the lack of clothing apart from a loin cloth, and their beautifully braided hair covered in ash and jewelry intended to convey social status.
Earlier this year, our young son proclaimed to my husband and me that he knew we were Santa Claus. Gone for good were the days of writing letters to Santa, phone calls to Santa if he was behaving badly, discretely hiding presents in various closets, and laying out cookies and milk on the 'Big Night'.
While a part of me was crushed that he had lost a bit of innocence, I felt compelled to introduce more simple Christmas traditions – ones that would negate the need for far too many presents and instead evoke relaxed family memories. The idea was visit the Christmas Markets of Munich, Salzburg and Vienna and even though it had been more than 35 years since I had been to these markets, for me, they were the same as I had remembered.
We live in a fast-paced world where compromises are a reality. Specifically in the world of sustainable travel, some guiding companies or green hotels compromise for the sake of profit while others compromise for the sake of making others (such as customers, employees, or even the community members) happy. So, three years ago, when I began hearing about the mission and vision for the Fogo Island Inn, I was rooting for its visionary, Zita Cobb, to construct an Inn that would triangulate sustainability with community cultural sensitivity and original, artistic design. Well, they did it!
Last month, our family had the pleasure of attending an authentic Braai (barbeque) in the beautiful Parliament Gardens of Namibia's capital, Windhoek. There were tribal groups who were performing traditional dances and displaying their artistic crafts in addition to a vast buffet of food and drink. To top it off, we were graced with the presence of President Pohamba.
Tourism is the largest industry in the world and, as such, has the power to (positively or negatively) change lives and impact communities. Along with that, Greenloons has consistently advocated the values of authentic ecotourism, namely, sustainable or responsible tourism activities that uphold community:
One of my travel bucket list destinations is Rio de Janeiro in Brazil during Carnival. This year, Carnival, a festival that is all about parties and fun (and dare I say lots of deadly sins), will run from February 9-12, 2013.
If you are one of the lucky ones who will be there and are wondering whether you can travel sustainably during Carnival, here are some responsible travel tips for cost-conscious accommodations, guides and restaurants in the Rio de Janeiro area:
This article was originally posted in Business Insider and was so telling and accurate, I thought it would be useful to re-post here.
How often do you check your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts when you travel? Perhaps you like to stay connected or maybe you prefer to unplug completely. Either way, your social media and tech habits say something about what type of traveler you are. Expedia has analyzed people's travel habits based on 40,000 trips booked through their site. Based on that information, they've created an infographic that shows how tech and social media habits affect travel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.