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 Eco Hotels
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
"We didn't even know this was possible!" the retired couple from England explained. They were vacationing in South Africa and due to a family issue had to quickly catch a flight from Cape Town back home. So, they checked into Hotel Verde for the night and found themselves as pleasantly surprised and intrigued by the hotel's green features and grounds as I was.
We were lucky enough to be given a personalized tour by Sarah, one of the most passionate and informed hotel marketing executives I've met in the sustainable travel industry. While the 4-star Hotel Verde (owned by Bon Hotels) is primarily geared for the business traveler (with its complementary shuttles to the airport and the city center as well as ample conference room space), leisure travelers will find this hotel to be a treat as well.
This past summer, our European family vacation was dedicated to experiencing all things local. Whether it was touring a family-owned organic vineyard or seeing a cultural dance performance just outside of Dubrovnik in Croatia, spending a sun-drenched few days on the island of Hydra in Greece, or enjoying the spectacular Highland colors and absolutely delicious family-style meals at the Fraoch Lodge in Scotland, we wanted local and sustainable, and we wanted it to be the best.
So, when my nine-year-old son declared that of the many great experiences he had "Scotland was my favorite because (Fraoch) lodge felt like home", that was saying a lot!
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!
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.
Of all the eco-certifications available to guiding companies and accommodations worldwide, Biosphere is the only one to have been Approved (versus Recognized) by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as having an independently verified process that is reliable, transparent and aligned with the universally accepted criteria for sustainable tourism.
Formulated by social responsibility experts in the tourism industry, universities, political realm, environmental policy and development organizations, TourCert awards certifications to organizations that specify how their business activities impact social and ecological programs.
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:
How do you know when eco-certified travel is going mainstream? It is when customers and hotel chains both extol the virtues of certification and eco-labels.
Earlier this year, a Canadian Travel Intentions Survey found that 25% of leisure travelers and 31% of business travelers said that a hotel with an environmental certification program was important to them. Overall, 42% of business travelers surveyed said that practices like recycling and energy efficiency matter to them when choosing where to stay (up five percent from 2011) and the same percentage of all travelers said they would pay $1 or more to offset their carbon footprint during a stay at a property.
It’s been almost one month since I came home from your amazing State that stretches along the Gulf Coast like “the graceful tentacle of a sea creature” – and I’m still smiling.
I loved how the strong Mexican sun cascaded all over your lovely beaches, mountainous peaks and formidable rivers, and the even friendlier hospitality that permeated through all your people. I loved learning about your indigenous cultures as well as the infusion of Afro-Cuban and Spanish artistry, music, foods, bright colors, and traditions. More huachinango a la veracruzana, (red snapper in a spicy tomato sauce) por favor!
It’s just about time for the start of one of the most hallowed traditions in football (aka soccer for us Americans). It’s time for UEFA's Euro 2012 and the host countries of Poland and Ukraine are ready to showcase their stadiums, culture and sportsmanship to the world.
Last March, I had the pleasure of staying in three distinct green lodgings in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which emphasized the city’s culture, history, diversity, and ecological sensitivity. Quito Turismo, the tourism office for the capital, sponsored my stay at a lovely trio of accommodations that was affordable, centrally located and comfortable.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.