Posts

Discover the World of Sustainable Hospitality

World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai (third from left) at the opening session of World Tourism Day in Doha, Qatar, September 27, 2017 (Photo courtesy World Tourism Organization) Posted for media use

World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai (third from left) at the opening session of World Tourism Day in Doha, Qatar, September 27, 2017 (Photo courtesy World Tourism Organization) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, October 3, 2017 (Maximpact.com  News) – A one-month worldwide trip visiting sustainable tourism initiatives is the prize that will go to the winner of a new competition hosted by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to select the world’s most responsible traveler.

With the aim of promoting responsible travel, the initiative is part of the Travel.Enjoy.Respect campaign taking place as part of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

“Every action counts and travelers have a strong role to play in building a more sustainable tourism sector. Imagine the impact of one small action multiplied by millions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai of Jordan. “We want to inspire all travelers to be the change they want to see in the world.”

The winner’s journey will be supported by Explore WorldWide, an adventure travel group with a commitment to responsible travel. Destinations including: Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the United Arab Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah and the Léman region in Switzerland have offered to host the winner and showcase responsible, sustainable tourism practices.

In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, World Tourism Day celebrated on September 27, was particularly meaningful.

The 2017 World Tourism Day took place in Doha, Qatar, where Rifai warned an audience of senior travel officials from around the world that this is “a crucial time for tourism.”

Even with global challenges such as climate change, migration and security, the UNWTO chief said that in 2016, a total of 1.235 billion travellers crossed international borders, a number equal to nearly one-sixth of the world population.

By 2030 the number of travelers crossing international borders in a year will have reached 1.8 billion, predicted Rifai.

Rifai said that by generating US$3.2 billion of spending worldwide every day, tourism creates one-tenth of jobs globally, represents 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 30 percent of world trade in services.

“But beyond the numbers and the economic benefits, travel and tourism is today a major contributor to a transformation that slowly and gradually is bringing us together, as humans, like never before, in a fast, globalized world,” he emphasized.

Breaking down stereotypes and enabling people to celebrate rich cultural diversity, is “tourism’s greatest contribution to a better world,” he said.

Global Hotel Industry Sets Sustainability Goals

To drive progress towards a better world, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) marked its 25th anniversary on September 26, one day ahead of World Tourism Day, by announcing four sustainability goals supported by ITP member companies.

Wolfgang Neumann, ITP Governing Council Chair, said, “We have agreed on a total of four core goals, with two addressing environmental issues – climate and water – and two supporting the people who work in the hotel industry and its supply chain. This even balance between planet and people reflects the passions and dedication of ITP members to make a real and lasting difference to a broad range of issues against which commitments can be agreed.”

  • CARBON: The goal is to embrace science-based targets to curb climate change, and encourage the wider industry to join in reducing carbon emissions.

Rising carbon emissions are accelerating climate change with devastating impacts on communities and biodiversity, thte ITP states. The hotel industry already accounts for around one percent of global emissions and this is set to increase.

The hotel industry must reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 to stay within the 2˚C threshold agreed under the Paris Agreement on Climate; this is the quantifiable science-based target the ITP aims to meet.

ITP members also encourage the uptake of consistent reporting through the use of the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI), developed by the World Travel & Tourism Council in collaboration with ITP and already used by over 24,000 hotels worldwide. The initiative provides a common methodology for measuring and reporting on the carbon footprint of a hotel stay or meeting.

  • WATER: The goal is to embed water stewardship programs to reduce the number of people affected by water scarcity, improve water-use efficiency and identify ways to address water scarcity.

Demand for freshwater is likely to outstrip supply by 40 percent by 2030 and a third of the world’s population will be living in areas of severe water stress by this time, the ITP states. In many countries, water consumption per guest in hotels greatly exceeds that of the local population, so the industry has a responsibility to encourage responsible use and consumption of water.

To improve water stewardship, ITP members commit to embedding water stewardship programs across their hotel portfolios.

Members encourage the uptake of the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative (HWMI), a common methodology for measuring and reporting on the water footprint of a hotel stay or meeting.

Developed by the International Tourism Partnership in partnership with auditor KPMG and 18 global hotel companies, and launched in August 2016, HWMI is free of charge and can be used by any hotel anywhere in the world, from small guesthouses to Five Star resorts. HWMI is now used by more than 12,000 ITP-member properties.

  • YOUTH EMPLOYMENT: The goal is to collectively impact one million young people through employability programs by 2030, doubling the industry’s current impact on youth unemployment.

Worldwide, more than 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, are looking for work and 156 million young workers are living in poverty, often due to unstable, irregular jobs. Many find themselves working in difficult or dangerous conditions, often outside the boundaries of the formal economy, the ITP states.

The hotel industry is well-equipped to offer meaningful work and career development options to young people, as it is growing at four percent each year, and currently providing around one in 10 of all jobs.

ITP members also encourage the uptake of the Youth Career Initiative, created by the industry to bridge the gap between youth unemployment and a poor talent pipeline for hotels to recruit. There are more than 3,000 YCI graduates to date across 14 countries, with an 85 percent success rate of employment or returning to education.

  • HUMAN RIGHTS: The goal is to raise awareness of human rights risks, embed human rights into corporate governance, and address risks arising in the labor supply chain and during hotel construction.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled. ITP members are focused on fighting modern slavery, human trafficking, and encouraging awareness, transparency and remediation of human rights abuses.

ITP members commit to further raising awareness of human rights risks in the hotel industry. They pledge to embed human rights into corporate governance requirements; work to address human rights risks in the labor supply chain, including elimination of fees charged to workers to secure employment; and identify ways to address human rights risks during the development and construction phase of hotels.

“ITP believes that the hotel industry can be a force for good and make a positive contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to the COP21 climate agreements,” said Neumann. “Our vision for 2030 is for sustainable growth and a fairer future for all. We understand that bigger impacts can be achieved faster through the industry working together at scale; for this reason we invite other hotel companies to join with us in our commitment to these four critical goals.”

ITP Director Fran Hughes commented, “This cross-industry alignment to a single set of Goals is a fantastic achievement for the International Tourism Partnership. It is also a reflection of the increasing importance that the hospitality industry attaches to sustainability issues.”

“As we move into the second half of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, business leaders have put competition to one side to create an ambitious vision for the future and a rallying call to the whole industry,” Hughes said. “By working together, I feel certain that these businesses will create a more sustainable future for the entire hospitality industry.”

Based in London, the International Tourism Partnership is a program of Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince’s Responsible Business Network. ITP is one of a group of not-for-profit organizations of which Charles, the Prince of Wales, is president.

Top Green Hotels Honored

The United Arab Emirates’ Sir Bani Yas Island is showing the world how sustainable travel looks and feels.

Nominated a World’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination 2017 for the World Travel Awards, Sir Bani Yas Island won this award in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The natural island is part of the UAE’s Al Gharbia region. Dominated by the Arabian Wildlife Park, with 13,000 roaming animals such as giraffes, cheetahs and gazelles, the island has multiple archaeological sites, including an ancient Christian monastery. Salt dome hills define the island’s desert interior. The coast features beaches, sea kayak routes and a shipwreck; flocks of flamingos grace a mangrove lagoon.

Many green hotels in Sir Bani Yas Island are energy efficient and LEED certified, while others provide organic products and focus on recycling programs. These eco-aware establishments have a low impact on the environment as they use solar panels and biodegradable materials, and offer eco-tourism activities such as archery and falconry.

At Al-Sahel Villa Resort, with its 30 private one and two-bedroom villas, General Manager Christian Gerart says, “More than 90 percent of the island is dedicated to nature and wildlife, and our resorts have recently been certified gold to the

Green Growth 2050 Global Standard, recognising our excellence in environmental, socioeconomic and cultural sustainability.”

He told “Good” magazine for the November 2016 issue that humans and wildlife can interact freely on Sir Bani Yas Island. “We constantly undertake research and conservation efforts as part of the development of suitably diverse habitats in the Arabian wildlife park on the island,” Gerart said. “Our aim is to maintain a working ecosystem for the animals, where natural interactions happen within and between species as they do in the wild.”

And finally, the award for the World’s Most Sustainable Hotel for 2016 was handed to Italy’s Vigilius Mountain Resort at the World Boutique Hotel awards November 9 at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London.

No road, no cars, no noise, no stress at the Vigilius Mountain Resort, just silence and nature. Guests arrive after a short trip by cable car at a modernist chalet, a mountain hotel in South Tyrol 1,500 meters above sea level.

Owner Ulrich Ladurner says, “As a sustainable hotel, the Vigilius Mountain Resort contributes to this in a variety of ways at once: as a “green hotel” and an A-class ClimateHouse, which works economically and using only renewable resources.”

Ulrich explains, “The key to the success of this sustainable hotel is solely and exclusively our staff and their authentic amiability. The mountain is honest and simple, we want to emulate it. Those might be very simple values but they no longer go without saying. … Anyone who comes here is looking to find themselves and to find us. In simplicity. We want to give you that.”


CapacityBuildingBillboard970x250.160312Featured Images: Guests enjoy sunset at a hotel on the United Arab Emirates’s Sir Bani Yas Island. (Photo courtesy Sir Bani Yas Island) Posted for media use.

Where Tourists Step Lightly, Biodiversity Flourishes

Rainbow lorikeets in Queensland, Australia, June 2013 (Photo by Dave Curtis) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Rainbow lorikeets in Queensland, Australia, June 2013 (Photo by Dave Curtis) Creative Commons license via Flick

By Sunny Lewis

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, May 23, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – “We share our planet with millions of species of wild animals and plants. They keep us alive through making fresh air, clean water and healthy soils; they are used every day to make medicine, food and furniture and they support cultural, recreational and tourism pursuits,” says John Scanlon, who heads the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

“While wildlife keeps all of us alive its future is squarely in our hands,” said Scanlon. “We alone will determine the fate of the world’s wildlife and in doing so our own destiny.”

Scanlon made these observations at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s 17th Global Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in late April, an event held in advance of the International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated around the world on May 22.

In Monday’s global celebrations, held under the theme of Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism, people enjoyed the benefits of ecotourism, but also examined the potentially negative impacts that tourism can have on biodiversity.

Dr. Cristiana Pașca Palmer, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said, “As we celebrate the 16th edition of the International Biodiversity Day let us all remember that by celebrating and protecting biodiversity we respect and give consideration to all forms of life that exist on this beautiful planet and that support the very existence of humans.”

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force in December 1993. This international treaty governs the conservation of the many species of plants and animals, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. Based in Montreal, with 196 Parties to date, the Convention has near universal participation among countries.

Biodiversity and tourism are intimately linked. The travel and tourism sector is one of the largest and fastest growing global industries, accounting for 10 percent of global GDP and one in every 10 jobs.

And it’s growing quickly. The tourism sector grew by 3.9 percent in 2016, says the UN World Tourism Organization, with inevitable impacts on the animals and plants that visitors travel to experience.

About 40 million people are drawn every year to the Caribbean’s beautiful beaches and marine life, providing $25 billion of revenue annually, nearly half the region’s total income.

In Belize, which bridges the divide between the Caribbean and Central America and encompasses the world’s second largest reef, more than 50 percent of residents support themselves by income generated through reef-related tourism and fisheries.

Some 1.4 million people visit Australian parks every year to enjoy their natural landscapes and culture, contributing $23 billion a year to the economy.

“Tourism is like fi­re: you can cook your food with it, but if you are not careful, it could also burn your house down!” writes Jochen Flasbarth, director-general, nature conservation in Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

In his Forward to the publication “Managing Tourism and Biodiversity: User’s Manual on the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development,” Flasbarth details the risks.

“Risks include the immense volumes of traffic and waste and the huge land and resource consumption connected to travel. Sensitive ecosystems, especially those in coastal and mountain regions, are also the areas that are particularly interesting for tourism. For example, an estimated 71 percent of the dune landscapes that existed in the Mediterranean region in 1990 have now disappeared. At Germany’s coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, this ­figure is around 15 to 20 percent.”

The key is responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the wellbeing of local people who often act as stewards for the biodiverse areas.

“Many conventional businesses, such as hotels and tourism operators, have taken steps to ensure that they adhere to sustainable tourism principles and best practices in their day to day operations,” said Dr. Pașca Palmer.

She says many travellers are now making choices based on whether or not good conservation practices are followed by operators at their destinations.

Nepal’s Chitwan National Park is a great example of wildlife-based tourism generating local jobs, with government and operators engaging with and supporting local communities.

In Chitwan National Park on Monday, in the presence of the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, ministers, representatives of local communities, international organizations, and media, Nepal destroyed confiscated stockpiles of wildlife parts. Parts of tigers, rhinos, leopards, pangolins, various reptiles and many other species were destroyed.

“Today’s event will not end wildlife crime,” said Scanlon, “but it does help to raise public awareness of the serious threats posed to wild animals and plants, people and economies by such crimes and it provides an ideal opportunity to make a very public expression of Nepal’s steadfast determination not to tolerate any poaching or illegal trade of its wildlife.”

“The strong measures being taken in Nepal not only benefits its extraordinary wildlife,” Scanlon said. “They are ensuring personal security, providing local jobs and community development, and supporting well-managed wildlife based tourism, and along with it the national economy.”

At Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in Southwest Uganda, tourists arriving to see gorillas have increased from 1,300 a year in 1993 to around 20,000 today, according to Dilys Roe,a principal researcher in the Natural Resources research group of the Lond-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

International tourists pay US$600 each to track gorillas and the Uganda Wildlife Authority shares US$10 per permit sold with local people recognizing that their support is important for conservation. But local benefits from gorilla tourism are very limited.

“Relationships between local people and the park are poor, and poaching, snaring and other illegal activities continue,” wrote Roe on the IIED blog on Monday. “This poses a significant threat to the park and to the long-term conservation of the mountain gorillas. It also represents a missed opportunity for harnessing tourism as an engine for local economic development in this remote rural area of Uganda.”

To address these problems, IIED is working with the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation, the Responsible Tourism Partnership and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme to develop new or improved local tourism products and services that meet the needs and interests of tourists, tour operators and lodges. This project is supported by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative.<

“We know that tourism impacts on biodiversity can be devastating,” said Inger Andersen, director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “Land clearing for tourism infrastructure, pollution and uncontrolled numbers of visitors destroy critical ecosystems that are often home to threatened species and provide an array of benefits to both people and nature.”

“As the official advisory body on nature under the World Heritage Convention, IUCN sees these impacts first hand. Andersen says over a quarter of all natural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List are negatively affected by tourism.

But, she says, the impacts of tourism on the natural world do not have to be so destructive, and, “The industry itself can directly contribute to preserving the very places it depends on.”

In 2014 IUCN launched a new global standard of excellence – the Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, which recognizes and helps ensure success in managing some of the most valuable natural places on the planet. Sustainable tourism is an important element of this success.

Andersen points to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, a green-listed area inhabited by the world’s last three northern white rhinos. The Conservancy recently won the prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow award for its work to improve lives in surrounding communities. It supports six health centers serving 20,000 community members, supplies water, solar power and ICT equipment to local schools, and provides cook stoves and solar devices to households.

“So we all have a responsibility,” says Andersen. “The tourism industry needs to lean in to create sustainable solutions for the industry and the consumer. And we as consumers have to work on the demand side of the equation, by booking our vacations and trips to destinations that support sustainable tourism. In that way, tourists will return home refreshed, but will also have contributed to creating a fairer and healthier planet, proving that the tourist industry can thrive while contributing to the protection of the planet.”


CapacityBuildingBillboard970x250.160312

Featured image: Silverback mountain gorilla of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, May 2013. (Photo by Mahboobeh Shirkhorshidi) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Ethical Travelers Shape World’s Largest Industry

CaboVerdeTree

Giant trees are just one of the many unique sights on the Atlantic island chain of Cabo Verde. (Photo by Frans Neve) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BERKELEY, California, January 31, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Each year, Berkeley-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler searches the world to find the 10 most ethical destinations that beckon visitors with forward-thinking policies, excellent tourism infrastructure, outstanding natural beauty, and welcoming cultures.

A project of the nonprofit Earth Island Institute, Ethical Traveler hosted responsible travelers Sunday evening at a reception to honor the winners of the 2017 Ethical Destinations Awards.

The 2017 Ethical Destinations Award winners, in alphabetical order, not ranked, are:

•             Belize

•             Cabo Verde

•             Chile

•             Costa Rica

•             Dominica

•             Mongolia

•             Palau

•             Tonga

•             Uruguay

•             Vanuatu

By no means evenly distributed around the world, five of the destinations are in Latin America, and four of them are islands. There is only one located in Asia. None are in Europe or North America and none are on the African or Australian continents.

An article authored by Ethical Traveler’s Molly Blakemore, Karen Blansfield, Morgan Lance and Natalie Lefevre with Jeff Greenwald explaining the reasons behind the selection of this year’s 10 most ethical destinations also sketches the financial underpinnings of the travel industry.

Travel is more than an opening for good will,” the authors say. “It is one of the world’s most powerful economic engines, and can drive the way countries treat their citizens, indigenous peoples, wildlife and the environment.

They point out that travel is the world’s largest industry, with a trillion-dollar annual footprint.

This means that travelers have enormous power. Where we put our footprints has reverberations reaching far beyond our personal experience. By voting with our wings, choosing our destinations well and cultivating our roles as citizen diplomats, we can help to change the world for the better,” the Ethical Traveler authors say hopefully.

Every year, Ethical Traveler volunteers review the policies and practices of over 100 developing countries. The group then chooses the 10 that they believe are doing the best at promoting human rights, preserving the environment and supporting social welfare, while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry.

Ethical Traveler is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus or individuals in the creation of its annual list.

Now – let’s travel!

Costa Rica scored highest in environmental protection among the 2017 Ethical Destinations, a big improvement from last year, followed by Chile and Dominica.

The Central American country plans to go carbon neutral by 2021, and officials claim it has reached 81 percent of its goal. According to a report by its National Centre for Energy Control, Costa Rica ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 76 straight days between July and August of 2016.

The global refugee crisis continued in full force of need this year. In response, Costa Rica, along with eight other North and Central American countries, made a formal commitment to shelter and improve protections for refugees.

Costa Rica is also one of the few countries that are “actively and sincerely trying to combat the human trafficking epidemic by arresting and breaking up the criminal groups responsible,” write the Ethical Traveler volunteers.

Costa Rica did not make it to the Top 10 last year because no progress was made on preventing turtle egg poaching, and Costa Rica’s president had expressed his intent to weaken endangered shark protections.

While there are still indications of ongoing sales of sea turtle eggs in some markets and the nation is under scrutiny for inconsistent support of international conventions on shark protection, there has been some progress, the Ethical Traveler volunteers report.

Costa Rican delegates led international shark conservation measures at a crucial February 2016 shark meeting, and Costa Rica has reached an agreement with Ecuador and Colombia to increase the protection of the migratory routes used by sharks and sea turtles.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis has committed to nearly quadrupling Cocos Island National Park, where fishing is restricted to protect sharks.

The island countries of Barbados and Palau attained perfect ratings in air quality, as did Chile and Uruguay, which also scored 100 percent in forests.

Palau’s President Thomas Remengesau, Jr., a known environmental champion, established the first no-take zone, setting aside 80 percent of Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone as a national marine sanctuary. He created the Marine Sanctuary Act to protect the oceans and marine life, and he is encouraging other countries to follow that path.

Praising Palau, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition said, “If all nations that purport to support urgent action to protect the biodiversity of the international waters of the world’s oceans from bottom trawl fishing were as consistent and persistent as the Republic of Palau, the deep sea habitats of the high seas would undoubtedly already be safe from high seas bottom trawling.

The island chain that is Cabo Verde juts up from the Atlantic, some 500 km west of Senegal, marked by mountains, beaches and peaceful seaside villages. Cabo Verde has committed to being free from oil-based energy by 2020, and is striving to be at the forefront of developing renewable energy technologies.

Cabo Verde continues progressing towards gender equality. Women now hold nine out of 17 national cabinet positions, and three out of seven seats on the Supreme Court.

Of all the countries on the initial list, Chile scored highest in social welfare, ranking 42nd out of the 187 countries, the Ethical Traveler reports.

Chile also enjoys modern medical care on par with that of the United States, is 28th in world rankings for life expectancy and has a literacy rate of 98 percent.

Uruguay ranks third of 146 countries for environmental sustainability.

So far, Dominica is the leader in renewable energy usage in the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, with its current renewable usage at 28 percent. Its goal is to become fully energy self-sufficient by 2020.

Although the Caribbean island nation of Dominica suffered damage from tropical storm Erika in 2015, the government’s response to the event has been to rebuild schools, shelter displaced citizens and create jobs through road and infrastructure repair.

Dominica has a very high number of people living to over 100 years, and consistently self-reports as one of the happiest nations in the world.

Mongolia, the sole Asian country on the Ethical Traveler’s Top 10 List, has established goals to reduce its carbon footprint by having 30 percent of all energy output be from renewables by 2030, a big increase from its current seven percent.

Mongolia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism has made it clear that the government intends to have reviews and oversight of mining explorations to increase the transparency of those operations.

Belize’s top tourist destination is the country’s barrier reef, popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors. Vital to the country’s fishing industry, the reef is a 300-kilometer (190 mile) long section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the world’s second longest reef, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Belize’s government recently endorsed the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2012–2030, a strategic framework for sustainable tourism development.

Belize has several world-leading examples of sustainable tourism, and the Ethical Traveler’s volunteers praised the country’s efforts, saying they were “put forth as a true example of environmentally conscientious and sustainable tourism.

Belize has also committed to the 10-Island Challenge, which challenges nations in the Caribbean to become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy rather than utilizing fossil fuels.

Education is also a priority in Tonga and Dominica, with impressive literacy rates of 99 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively—well above the global average of 84 per cent—and

The Pacific island country of Vanuatu is extending free education through to the age of ten.

In the Freedom House yearly report on civil and political rights, Belize, Cabo Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Palau, Uruguay, and Mongolia earned the highest possible score while Tonga, and Vanuatu follow with the second highest scores.

These countries are beacons that we hope other developing countries will follow,” writes the Ethical Traveler selection group.

Freedom House is a U.S. based and government funded nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

We’re especially hopeful to see Mongolia move up in the Freedom House rankings, as they made human rights and political freedom a cornerstone of 2016’s parliamentary elections,” the group writes.

Ecuador was included in the top rankings as a Destination of Interest, although it did not make it into the top 10.

While Ecuador does not qualify as a top ethical destination because of serious environmental and human rights issues, we are including it as a Destination of Interest because of the important role of tourism in the recovery of the country after a destructive earthquake in April 2016,” writes the Ethical Travelers volunteer selection group.

Before the earthquake, Ecuador attracted 1.5 million visitors and tourism brought in $1 billion in 2015, making it the fourth biggest source of income for the nation. Because of the high costs of rebuilding the affected areas, Ecuador might otherwise turn to other short-term income generating projects, such as the oil drilling under Yasuní National Park, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, which was begun in September 2016.

Ecuador has much to offer responsible travelers: the majestic Andean mountains, the Amazon rainforest, indigenous and colonial towns, beautiful beaches and the fascinating wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador won the World Travel Award for South America’s leading green destination and Tren Ecuador’s travel by rail won Best Responsible Tourism Project in the World and Best for Poverty Reduction and Inclusion at the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards.

So many wonderful places for responsible travelers to visit – so little time!


Featured image: Glorious golden sunrise on a beach in Cahuita, Costa Rica (Photo by Armando Maynez) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Billboard- 970x250-min-min

Maximpact’s consultant network has a wide range of eco tourism and environmental experts that can assist your organization. Create responsible tourism projects through Maximpact’s Advisory and discover project services for all types of business and organizations. Contact us at info(@)maximpact.com and tell us what you need.

Footsteps of a Responsible Traveller

TableMountainMan1

Visitor stands at the top of Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town, South Africa, January 2015 (Photo by Meraj Chhaya) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, July 5, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A luxurious hotel in Dubai rescues, rehabilitates and releases sea turtles and educates guests about turtle conservation… a hotel and restaurant association in India’s Kerala state works to ensure no food is wasted… accessible only by boat, a rainforest lodge and chocolate farm in Panama borders a spectacular National Marine Park…

These are just three of the 75 organizations in 30 countries longlisted for the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at World Travel Market London, sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board.

In fact, Belize’s Reef Conservation International (ReefCI) is also on the longlist for protection of its section of the world’s second longest reef, where whale sharks play.

The 2016 list of finalists will be released in August, with the winners announced in a ceremony at World Travel Market London during World Responsible Tourism Day on November 8.

Justin Francis, managing director of Responsible Travel and founder of the awards, said, “This is an exciting time of year. It’s when we first get our real glimpse into diversity of the stellar work being done in responsible tourism worldwide.”

“There are a few things which have really got me excited this year and one is seeing representatives from destinations such as Dubai, places we don’t usually associate with responsible tourism, included in the longlist for the first time. For me this is a clear indication that the wider tourism industry is really recognizing the importance and benefits of operating in a responsible way.”

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. International tourists numbered 982 million in the year 2000 and the World Tourism Organization projects up to 1.6 billion tourists annually by 2020.

International tourism is a trillion-dollar business, accounting for up to nine percent of global GDP. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that tourism is expected to continue to grow by 3.3 percent annually through 2030, generating one in 12 jobs globally.

While providing jobs, tourism can cause problems – environmental degradation, social dislocation, loss of cultural heritage, and economic dependence.

Learning about the negative impacts of tourism has led many people to seek more responsible holidays. In fact, sustainable tourism is becoming so popular that what is now viewed as alternative will soon be considered mainstream.

Sustainable, or responsible, tourism “respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment,” according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.

SloveniaCapital

Ljubljana, Slovenia will host the Global Green Destinations conference in September. (Photo by Lorenzo Magnis) Creative Commons license via Flickr

On World Tourism Day, September 27, a two-day conference, Global Green Destinations Day will begin in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, which earned the title of European Green Capital 2016. Experts in sustainable development and green tourism, opinion leaders, and representatives of destinations, associations, hoteliers and tour operators will gather.

The main partner and co-organizer of the event is Ljubljana Tourism, in cooperation with the Slovenian Tourist Board.

At Global Green Destinations Day the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations 2016 will be named, featuring the world’s most successful sustainable tourism destinations, as well as the best providers of green solutions in the tourism sector.

Increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development, if well-functioning management systems are in place, according to a 2014 report released at the World Parks Congress hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Sydney, Australia.

Highlighting a global collection of case studies from Machu Picchu in Peru to the Damaraland Camp in Namibia, the IUCN report, “Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Sustainability,” includes contributions from more than 50 experts from 23 countries and territories, and examples from over 45 countries around the world.

“Unlike other industries and human-driven activities, tourism in protected areas can be a strong positive force – increasing a sense of stewardship and revenues that are vital for the long-term protection of these important conservation areas,” said Dr. Yu-Fai Leung, the chief editor of the report and member of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group. “By contrast, reduced visitor numbers to protected areas can signal a lack of political interest or public support.

There is money to be made in sustainable tourism, which is why “green” hotels are getting an increasing amount of investment.

The Tanzanian based Bakhresa Group, for instance, has appointed Verde Hotels  of South Africa to overhaul and upgrade the old Mtoni Marine Hotel in Zanzibar. The brand new five star property will be known as Hotel Verde, Zanzibar’s greenest hotel.

“We are serious about being the leaders of the Green Economy sector and therefore we approached the developers of Africa’s greenest hotel, Verde Hotels, to ensure that Hotel Verde Zanzibar will be the greenest hotel in East Africa,” explained Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa, chairman of the Bakhresa Group.

Hotel Verde Zanzibar will showcase the integration of Five Star luxury and environmental best practice. Sustainability strategies for the redevelopment phase include: renewable energy generation, regenerative drive elevators, a grey water recycling system, responsible procurement, waste minimization and management, and indoor environmental quality optimization.

The original Hotel Verde in Cape Town is green from its energy-efficient LED lights, to its rooftop solar panels, to its zero waste to landfill policy. The hotel’s cooling/heating system achieves exceptional efficiencies by using heat pumps coupled to 100 boreholes and 11km of geothermal ground loops that use the earth as a thermal battery.

As a hotel management group, Verde Hotels constructs new hotels and renovates existing buildings that are then operated and managed by Verde Hotels , with sustainability at their core. The company’s stated aim is “to transcend conventional hotel and business standards whilst entering into a new era of environmental consciousness and responsible tourism.”

Verde Hotels aims to demonstrate that “luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.”

It often comes down to small practical steps. In Houston, Texas, the Green Hotels Association offers a catalog of environmentally-friendly energy and water-saving products for the lodging industry with such water-saving devices as a toilet-tank fill diverter, which saves about 3/4 gallon of water per flush, is invisible to the guest, does not affect the flush, and costs about $1. Hair and skin care product dispensers save money and offer guests shampoo and soap at the push of a button. The association’s towel rack hangers and sheet changing cards ask guests to consider using their linens more than once.

And at other times, the big picture is the important focus. On June 10, the UN World Tourism Organization welcomed more than 70 experts from 21 countries at its headquarters in Madrid, to share experiences related to the measurement and monitoring of the impact that tourism has on destinations.

Special focus was put on the relevance and the opportunities available from non-traditional data sources, including social media analysis, geospatial data mapping, big and live data collection and usage, as well as the analysis of credit card spending patterns and the flow of visitors based on mobile device information.

This consultation took place in a climate that strengthens the role and responsibilities of sustainable tourism as a positive instrument for development, such as the upcoming International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, “The declaration by the UN of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued” said

This Earth Day, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the UK charity Reef-World Foundation (Reef-World) announced a new partnership for marine conservation and the sustainable development of marine initiatives and opportunities.

PATA officially endorsed Reef-World and Green Fins, a management approach to promote and measure compliance to an environmental code of conduct for sustainable diving and snorkelling activities for destinations and dive operators.

The top Green Fins member organization this year is Puerto Galera Dive Resort ABWonderdive B&B in the Philippines. In one of the world’s most beautiful bays, underwater photographers focus on seahorses and pygmy seahorses, ghostpipe fishes, frogfishes, flying gurnards and nudibranches of all kinds. Of course, the travel season there is over for this year as monsoon and typhoon season approaches, but there’s always next year!

Top Five Tips for Being a Responsible Traveller

  1. Don’t litter. Carry your own shopping bag. Avoid plastic bottles.
  2. Reduce energy consumption.
  3. Conserve water.
  4. Do not buy or eat endangered species.
  5. Inquire about the sustainability practices and environmental policies of hotels, lodges and guest houses at your destinations and patronize only those whose policies protect the planet.

Featured image : Chocolate workers at La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm, Panama, rated “excellent” by 297 travelers. (Photo courtesy La Loma)

 

Wildlife Pays the Price for Ecotourist Fun

LOS ANGELES, California, November 16, 2015 (Maximpact News) – Drawn to the beauty of natural landscapes and the exotic animals that live there, ecotourists leave money behind when they go home, but they may also leave the wild animals they have enjoyed viewing more vulnerable because of their presence.

Protected areas around the world receive a total of more than eight billion visits each year. Ecotourism is supposed to enhance conservation through ecologically responsible travel.

But after analyzing over 100 research studies on how ecotourism affects wild animals, an international team of scientists in the United States, France and Brazil has concluded that such visits can be harmful to the animals.

When wild animals are habituated to the presence of humans, their behaviors may be altered in ways that put them at risk, the researchers have found.

When animals interact in seemingly benign ways with humans, they may let down their guard, said Daniel Blumstein, the study’s senior author and professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“This massive amount of nature-based and ecotourism can be added to the long list of drivers of human-induced rapid environmental change,” said Blumstein.

As animals learn to relax in the presence of humans, they may become bolder in other situations, he said. If this transfers to their interactions with predators, they are more likely to be injured or killed.

The presence of humans can also discourage natural predators, creating a kind of safe haven for prey animals that may make them bolder.

For example, in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, elk and pronghorns in areas with more tourists are less alert and spend more time eating, Blumstein and his colleagues report.

Interacting with people can cause a change in the characteristics of various species over time.

“If individuals selectively habituate to humans – particularly tourists – and if invasive tourism practices enhance this habituation, we might be selecting for or creating traits or syndromes that have unintended consequences, such as increased predation risk,” the researchers write.

“Even a small human-induced perturbation could affect the behavior or population biology of a species and influence the species’ function in its community,” they write.

Ecotourism has effects similar to those of animal domestication and urbanization, the researchers point out.

Research has shown that domesticated silver foxes become more docile and less fearful, a process that results from evolutionary changes, but also from regular interactions with humans, Blumstein said.

Domesticated fish are less responsive to simulated predatory attacks.

Fox squirrels and birds that live in urbanized areas are slower to flee from danger than their wild counterparts.

Blumstein hopes the new analysis will encourage more research into the interactions between people and wildlife.

“It is essential,” he said, “to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how various species in various situations respond to human interaction and under what conditions human exposure may place them at risk.”

This research is published in the current issue of the journal “Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

The study’s co-authors are Benjamin Geffroy, a postdoctoral researcher with France’s Institute National De La Recherche Agronomique in Rennes; Diogo Samia, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of ecology at the Federal University of Goias, in Brazil; and Eduardo Bessa, a professor at the State University of Ponta Grossa, also in Brazil.


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Tourists wait to photograph orangutans during feeding time at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sabah, Malaysia. March 17, 2014 (Photo by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) under creative commons license via Flickr)
Slide image 01: Ecotourists stop a jaguar from crossing the river to reach a mate, Brazilian Pantanal, Aug. 22, 2011 (Photo by Paul Williams under creative commons license via Flickr)
Slide image 02: In Rwanda’s Virunga National Park a mother gorilla and her baby relax although a photographer is near. May 22, 2013. (Photo by Kwita Izina under creative commons license via Flickr)
Slide image 03: Ecotourists snorkel with fish in Brazil. (Photo by Benjamin Geffroy courtesy UCLA)