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, February 22, 2009

New Ecotourism Resources

Hi everyone,

I just would like to share with you a website I found and that I got in touch with its creators/managers.

The website is called weekeego. The best way to understand what they do is to read the words of Jana Holomkova, responsible of the platform:
"Weekeego is body which promotes responsible tourism and supports local communities around the world. At this moment we offer 26 destinations in all continents, except Antartica.
We don't directly work with charities, NGOs, foundations etc. What happens is, most of these places either manage themselves projects or / and co-operate with local NGOs. It really depends on each spot. We explain in the profile which is online what a kind of involvement to expect, how the members can contribute. And then the exact projects get listed; for example educational projects, culture projects, habitat projects etc."

I really like the adopted approach as it is community oriented and puts forward the experience of travelling first. I have said here several times that the most important thing regarding
ecotourism is to establish as much as possible a true connection with the locals and to get a sense of the place. These values are utterly shared by the people behind weekeego.

The website is still in Beta but you can already book things online, you can connect to them via Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. This webiste is really user friendly and I hqve the feeling it has the potential to become a must place for ecotourism/responsible travelling as soon as all the functionality will be in place.

So you should definitely have a look at weekeego.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

National Geographic Geotourism Competition

National Geographic Channel logoImage via Wikipedia

No I did not get any money from the National Geographic for writing about them, but they have discovered my blog, they send me information regarding their events/competitions/whatever and they respond quickly to my answers. So as long as it stays like this I will talk about the information I deem valuable.

They organise a geotourism competition, here is an extract of the press release:
"The National Geographic Society and Ashoka’s Changemakers today opened the entry process for the second annual “Geotourism Challenge” to showcase how tourism done well sustains, enhances and preserves local culture and the environment. The competition will identify individuals worldwide who have introduced the most innovative practices in tourism and destination stewardship.

Conducted in partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers, the global Geotourism Challenge will accept online applications at www.changemakers.net/geotourismchallenge through May 20, 2009. Applicants must demonstrate an innovation that protects destination quality and furthers geotourism, defined by National Geographic as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

During this period, anyone can debate, endorse or provide additional information on the entries. A distinguished panel of judges — including Keith Bellows, editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine, and Erika Harms, United Nations Foundation’s executive director for sustainable development — will review the applications and select the finalists. The online community will then vote for the Geotourism Challenge winners, who will be announced this summer. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000".

So if you are interested, have a look at their website.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Discover National Geographic Emerging Explorers

Uncia uncia.Image via Wikipedia

Last December I wrote a post on Shafqat Hussain, the snow leopard warrior. He has set up a preservation program in his native Pakistan to preserve this endangered species and he has been able to involve the local population into an ecotouristic project, which has drastically limited poaching.

He is one of the ten National Geographic emerging explorers. Here is an extract of the press release:"

Ten visionary, young trailblazers from around the world — including an epidemiologist, an aquatic ecologist, a geo-archaeologist, an ethnobotanist and an urban planner — have been named to the 2009 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers.

The Emerging Explorers each receive a $10,000 award to assist with research and to aid further exploration. PNY Technologies is a presenting sponsor of the Emerging Explorers Program and a National Geographic Mission Partner for Exploration & Adventure. The program is made possible in part by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, which has supported the program since its inception in 2004.

The new Emerging Explorers are introduced in the February 2009 issue of National Geographic magazine."

Check out the National Geographic Website Emerging Explorer section and discover other dedicated people that work hard to protect the environment.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Being Green and Commercial Celebrations

Buster Brown Valentine postcard by Richard Fel...Image via Wikipedia

Today is Valentine Day and you must live on another planet if you have not noticed. I found an article on Travelling the Green Way about Valentine day: "Top 5 Ways to Green Valentine’s". My first reaction was: "Oh that's nice!". Then I was like "Wait a minute... the whole point of being green should be to avoid all the consumption brainwashing that has lead us into the wall!"

I have been thinking of that and it seems that this example shows the limits of "green consumption": as a person, being environmentally friendly means a lot more than consumption, it is an attitude that aims at looking at the consequences of our actions in the long run. I have nothing against couples, but as my first Valentine Day in the UK I am amazed at the pressure that all the marketing machines have put on people over the last few weeks. It seems it is compulsory to go to the restaurants or to offer some roses. It seems more important to BUY than to really LOVE.

Being green is like being in love: it should come naturally and any demonstration of the feeling should come at any time when the person deems it important, not when the whole society pressures him/her. So remember: the best actions is something you cannot buy but something unique that comes from yourself.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ecotourism and Social Media

More than how far you go, a travel is more about how you reach your destination and the people you meet during your trip. Talking to the locals or hanging out with other travellers mean more knowledge, memory and fun. So as ecotourism puts the emphasis on the travel in itself and on the interactions with people here is a list of useful tools when you plan your trip or when you are travelling.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Facebook: let us start with the main one. This social media is an incredible tool to find information, discover events, meeting new people and keep in touch (it works a lot better than all the promises of "writing a letter now and again"). Have a look at the groups, the fan page and do not hesitate to send message to people that might have valuable information.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Twitter:if you are looking for info, twitter is incredible. More and more companies are monitoring it so if you leave a tweet you might receive a direct message with the relevant content. And if you have a community of people interested in travelling then it is potentially a huge source of knowledge.

Image representing Brightkite as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Brightkite, Zyb or Google Latitude: Social networks are increasingly going mobile and it could be very useful if you are in a city looking for your friends or the persons you met the day before. I know some people might be scared, so it is up to you if you do not want to use it.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

Google Earth and Google Map: How was life before we had these tools?? Hard to imagine now! I know you are goig to tell me: it is not really social media. Well if you look at the numbers of maps created by users (millions) and all the contents/reviews you can find, this is as social as any of the tools mentioned here.

Image representing Ning as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Ning:I do think that the best opinions come from passionate people, so why not looking for social networks dedicated to travelling?? Have a look at this platform, you will find thousands of people ready to share info.

Mashable: This is not a social network, but in my opinion they are the best websites regarding information and lists for a dedicated topic. So suscribe to their RSS feed and keep an eye on it.

They are plenty of other tools/applications, so if you know any otherone I did not mention, please send me an email and I will add it to the list.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Green Issues and Economic Downturn

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase

When I read The Daily Green I was very happy: The New York Times, probably one of the best newspapers in America, has just created an environmental news team to monitor everything related to green issues. The NYT has always been proactive in this field, especially with their travel section in which you could find resources for environmentally friendly trips, but such a move is amazinf in the current economic environment.

However, my joy did not last because the second half of the article mentioned a fading interest and commitment of people in general towards green issues. As the economic crisis is affecting millions of households, priorities are shifting. And if we the people start thinking that way you can be sure that politicians have already anticipated that and are going to renegotiate or make ineffective some pledges.

Fine. But could you remember what brought us into the wall?? Overborrowing to overspend to satisfy our overconsumption. So after this crisis is gone, are we going to fall in the same trap again? Or to become a bit more mature?? Why not starting now and adopting new policies, creating new green jobs and relaunching our economies?

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