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!
Blog posts tagged in Defining Ecotourism
One of the three values of ecotourism, in addition to its inherent social and environmental benefits, is the economic sustainability provided to local communities through the following tenants:
- Local ownership,
- Observing and maintaining traditional practices of developing goods and food,
- Offering employment opportunities
This infographic was designed to convey the economic benefits of ecotourism, define the terminology used in the travel industry, and describe the differences in how local communities specifically benefit from ecotourism versus traditional (mass) tourism.
With ecotourism estimated to be the fastest-growing sector of the global tourism market (UNWTO), it is imperative that those of us seeking to reduce our environmental impact while traveling find ways to easily distinguish between authentic sustainability and greenwashing.
While we don't want to simply latch on to the green travel trend, we must be able to recognize travel organizations that are pushing beyond universally acceptable standards of reduce, reuse, and recycle.
One may retort that any steps taken by tourism companies to reduce their impact is a step in the right direction, but the curse of traditional tourism is that the positive feedback loop (which we create through social media) also enables massive increases tourism development and access.
Across Africa, the transformational abilities of tourism have proven invaluable in helping to repair the relationship between people and planet. Sustainable certification standards, like those instituted by South Africa's Fair Trade Tourism, have ushered in new awareness for tourism that benefits communities socially, economically and environmentally.
This awareness has translated into action on the island of Madagascar. A country of startling contrasts, its incredible natural beauty and unique ecosystems are offset by a rapidly expanding and largely impoverished population, threatening species found nowhere else on earth.
I was born with the travel bug. As often as I could, I was off visiting and re-visiting places near and far, soaking in sea air, language, and culture. But as my eco-conscience grew, I realized that my growing collection of seashells and jet-fuelled flights might be satisfying my wanderlust at the expense of the environment. Because my wanderlust was simply impossible to ignore, I turned my attention to sustainable tourism.
No matter the name, the intent is the same: travel with the lightest environmental and socio-cultural footprint possible to maintain or improve conditions in all communities around the world and ensure their health for years to come. A lofty goal, but with a change in perspective and a little bit of effort, travel can be not only guilt-free, but rewarding in unexpected ways.
I 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.
Our 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.
As 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.
A 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.
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.
Last summer's travels with my son was part social experiment, part field research on how sustainability is viewed through the eyes of a nine-year-old child. Each country we visited, namely Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Scotland had their own flavor of what sustainability and green travel meant.
For Croatia, sustainability generally translated to a more personal construct of preserving all things local rather than living what we, in the United States, have come to know as a green lifestyle filled with hybrid car or bus use and renewable energy resources.
It may seem like a new phenomenon, but the concept of ecotourism has been around for more than 200 years when Alexander von Humboldt and botanist Aimé Bonpland traveled across Central and South America.
Since then, eco-conscious explorers have endeavored to support ecotourism that incorporates the values of S.E.E. (namely social empowerment, economic viability and environmental responsibility) and positively impact communities.
Alaska is one of the least-densely populated places in the world, and much of the state remains wild and road-less. Travel to Alaska typically focuses on these remote areas, and enjoying the stunning scenery and abundant wildlife they offer.
To ensure that nature and eco-travel can continue, we must be stewards for the natural environment so that wild places like these remain for future generations to enjoy.
In an increasingly urbanized world, wildlife tourism is gaining more and more popularity, and many travellers choose to spend their holidays getting to know – even volunteering with, wild animals.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of activities with animals, what we see are creatures torn away from their natural habitat and placed into an artificial one where they suffer and are forced to perform in ways which are unnatural for them.
Every year, travellers, volunteers and animal lovers unwittingly contribute to the cruel exploitation of those very same animals they so badly wanted to see and help.
I've never considered myself a bona fide writer. In fact, all the way through college and my corporate career, I would have much preferred speaking in front of hundreds of people rather than writing an essay or term paper.
That sentiment changed for me five years ago though, when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer and suddenly realized that writing was a way to channel my hopes, fears, frustrations, anger, and revelations.
Ironically, while I can recall talking about my dreams and aspirations – and even presenting a life plan - from the time I was 10 years old, I didn't really discover my true passions and innate gifts until I started writing in earnest.
Travelers are increasingly weighing their effects on the environment and local communities when deciding on a vacation destination. In fact, a 2012 TripAdvisor survey reports that green travel is gaining momentum among the site's members; 71% said they plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months. One such avenue of green tourism is ecotourism, used to describe a set of environmentally sound practices that take into account every aspect of travel, including transportation, accommodation, and daily activities.
Quite often, I am asked to describe the typical Greenloons travel experience with respect to how our trips promote sustainability for communities, the environment and for travelers. It's always a pleasure for me to give examples, and the latest is no exception.
As part of our continuing series of Ecotourism Industry Profiles where we discuss the issues surrounding the triple bottom line and, more recently, the actual return on investment (ROI) that businesses realize as a result of implementing sustainable operations, we profile Steve Macfarlane, owner of the Glenuig Inn.
While Costa Rica comprises only .01% of the earth’s landmass, it is home to five percent (5%) of the planet’s biodiversity. Breaking it down even more, within Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula provides a pristine habitat to more than half of all the bird, butterfly, mammal and plant species found in the country.
In other words, if you want to see 2.5% of the planet’s flora and fauna species during one vacation, head to the Osa Peninsula!
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.
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.
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.