I write this blog about ecotourism because I have a big interest in this topic and I do think it can make a difference. I want to share what I find/think interesting about it.
This blog is yours, please feel free to add any comment/suggestion/feedback or email me at guillaume.foutry (at) gmail.com

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The People Behind Ecotourism

I have written several posts about the ecotourism industry, the labels, the trends, etc. But I have never really put forward the people that make ecotourism possible, that launch projects, develop networks and promote this idea through conferences or seminars. And that is the shame because we could have a lot to learn from these people that have to deal with an industry that has not fully embrace green ideas and the power of lobbies always eager to put economy (here read money) first.

So today I invite you to have a look at the blog of Megan Epler Wood, A day in the life of an Ecotourism Consultant. In her blog she describes her day-to-day activities in Bangladesh where she is working on an ecotourism project: "she will develop an ecotourism strategy for the Teknaf Peninsula on the Bay of Bengal. This far-flung peninsula borders Burma, and is becoming a target for rapid local development. Forest reserves here harbor the threatened Bengal tiger".

That is really valuable to see the other side of the barrier and to have a taste of all the difficulties they have to overcome. Please have a look!

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Green Travelling Made Easier

I just found two good resources that could help for going green in 2009. The first one is a list of tips for going green when you go skiing. Always useful as ski resorts are at the moment not really eco-friendly.

The second one is a green directory released by Travelocity. It is not really ecotourism, but at least it is travel green and it provides lots of resources such as accommodations, a travel info centre, vacations packages, etc. It is always better to have everything in one place than going from website to another one.

If you are looking from real ecotourism experience, this is not for you but you will on my list of websites on this blog that will satisfy your needs.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Make America Greener: Yes Barack, You Can!

I am sure like billions people around the world you have seen the images of Barack Obama inauguration and heard a few extracts from his speech. I already wrote on this blog all the hopes I had in the 44th American president regarding the environment and he has always been a strong advocate of green policies, pledge he has renewed today. The task ahead of him is huge: a new Kyoto protocol; an economic plan to boost renewable energies; changing American habits regarding the use of natural resources and energy (probably the biggest one!).

The doomsayers would say that the start was not that good for the environment as the Inauguration celebrations have had a negative impact on the environment. True, completely true. But never judge someone on his/her first day at work. It takes a year to a new American president to completely master his new position. Barack Obama has less than that and the environment cannot wait other delays, but he has proved to his own country and the world how exceptional he is. So yes, he can become a true and efficient political leader on green issues.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Top 10 Lists

I found this new list of "Top 10 Green Travel Experience". I like this kind of list as it makes me want to travel more and discover new things. But I just got a bit tired of it as I saw DOZENS of these lists pretending to offer "the ultimate experience". I do not want to fully criticize the people that they have made these lists as it is a lot of efforts to put everything together and also because it promotes ecotourism.
Forrest Gump (character)Image via Wikipedia
But I just feel that the travel you really want to accomplish is something so unique and personal that you should almost put all the pieces together by yourself. Everyone has its personal way of looking at things, engaging the conversations and finding its own balance. Ecotourism is all about the journey, the fact you leave the background you are used to in order to become a bit different (e.g. more open minded and sensible) and then to look at things differently when you are back.

Ecotourism should be about the humane experience and may be not be a fully packed tour. which would make it adventurous again. I have the utmost respect for people that follow the Forrest Gump's philosophy "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get". Ecotourism should be, in a sense, a box of chocolates too.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eco-Travel Website: Intrepid Travel

As promised I keep looking for websites that will help you to plan greener holidays. Today I will introduce you to Intreprid Travel. This company has operated for 20 years so they have an extended network and a lot to offer in terms of destinations.

Is the website user friendly? The website is amazingly professional, you easily get the information you are looking for. I found it really intuitive despite the huge mass of information.

Social media/community aspects? Honestly I have been a bit disappointed by this part as I has expected a more community oriented website. No mention of any social media tool at all, no space to exchange idea or leaving comments. A huge drawback according to me.

Number of destinations? As stated before, because they have 20 years of experience the amount of possibilities is extraordinary and this is definitely the selling point of the company.

Going Green? Even if they do their part (Work closely with the locals; green tips, guidelines and code of conduct on the website; carbon offsetting), I expected a more green oriented approach. Good but could be better.

This is a really good website if you want to find a trip respectful of the environment. However green is your priority you will find what they offer a bit too light for you.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ecotourism Resources

I know it can be hard to find information on ecotourism and I do hope that this blog has been helpful. I would like to indicate you two resources that will make your life even easier.

The First one is Green Travel, a general information website on ecotourism that aims to give you the possibility to explore all the elements of ecotourism -as they write on their homepage to "explore, learn, getting involved". Obviously you can find your perfect eco trip, but the goal is also to make people participate and share info, which would be at the end even more useful as it would have created a true community.

The second one is Green Living Project, a channel on You Tube that puts forward green initiatives, mainly in Africa. I found it really informative and in the same time quite enjoyable as each video is in itself a travel to another country.

If you have more idea about a green resources, please let me know. I will be very happy to write about it!
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does the Spread of Eco-Consciousness Means the End of Green Travelling?

Christopher ElliottImage by madhavaji via FlickrNewsweek is for me one of the best magazines written in English, so I was really curious when I saw this article about green travelling. And I have to say that the viewpoint developed is interesting. Christopher Elliott argues that as environmental awareness is spreading people will increasingly refuse to pay an extra for that they see as normal.

I do agree with the argumentation put forward and I like the 4 advice he gave to consumers, but I would not say that it means the end of "Green Travel", especially ecotourism. Ecotourism goes beyond the respect for the environment because it is also a philosophy.

If you go for ecotourism, it means that you are looking for real interactions with the locals, that you want something more than being on a beach: you want a life experience. This is not what everyone wants for vacation, which it means it is not the end of green travel.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Trends for 2009: Stay Green

We all know hard it is to go green, to find environmentally friendly products or ways of travelling. However, the Internet and social media have made life a lot easier regarding "the hunt" for green products.

I just discovered this website, I Stay Green, and I feel it is going to be really useful for anyone wanting to get/share tips for ecotourism and environmentally friendly trips. Have a look and hope that can be useful!

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Ecotourism: Victim of its own Success?

Gnus and zebras in the Maasai Mara park reserv...Image via Wikipedia
Happy that the concept of ecotourism is spreading all around and that more people "are joining the club"? Think again. I already wrote some posts about the use by some people/companies of ecotourism as a way to greenwash people and to do business as usual. The other problem seems to be the scale ecotourism starts taking.

We see many projects that really follow the standards of ecotourism (recycling, preservation, use of green energies, involvement of the locals) but because they are really big it seems to go against the mindset of the concept and still there are some doubts lingering on the impact on the environment. As examples, read this article "As Eco-Tourism Grows, Struggle for Cultural Identity Remains" that shows you the limit of ecotourism and have a look at this one as well. It treats the announcementof the Kenya Forest Service to open 200 sites for ecotourism. I am really happy that Kenya is following the path of ecotourism, bu 200 sites seems to be huge for the country and I am a bit worried when they talk about "tourism facilities".

As usual, we need to be cautious and question everything. That could be the mantra for ecotourism in 2009.

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Ecotourism and Economic Crisis

Metro Bicycles Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr
Well after the special period of Christmas and New Year eve, it is back to reality and 2009 does not seem to be that fun with all the people being made redundant and all the gloomy prediction. Unfortunately, even if this can have unexpected good efects on people's habits (look at the picture), this current climate is going to affect eco-tourism and more generally all the green activities.

As people will be increasingly cautious with their wallet, more people will cancel their consumption of eco products because they are more expensive. Ecotourism will be affected but it is hard to predict to what extent. Here this article underlines the effects in Indonesia. What really worries me is that all the good resolution taken for climate change and the protection of the environment could be forgotten for "the sake of the economy": it seems that since the price of gas plummeted in the US, the slaes of SUV have raised. This is such a big mistake becuase in one/two years time prices will be around 150$ the barrel.

This example shows that "green resolutions" promised by people or governments are weak, so we have to be proactive and to show that green solutions are sources of employment and good for the economy.

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Starting 2009 with the Best Eco-Plans

Happy New Year everyone!! As I wrote previously I do hope you have lots of green resolutions for 2009!

And for your next eco-holidays have a look at the good posts written on The Best Eco Hotels and Resorts in the World. They have picked up the best green hotels in every continent. I will put them on my ecotouristic map as well to make it easier to find these places.

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