Archive for the ‘United States’ category

This week in Ecotourism (1 Sept 2017)

September 3, 2017

A few stories entered my awareness this week related to Ecotourism

A quick look at the state of ecologically aware travel around the world shows the planet emerging from the economic slump in some areas, coupled with an awareness of the need to protect vulnerable areas of the planet. A few highlights I found appear below:

Costa Rica - Carribean Sea - Parismina (Eco-Tourism)

  1.  From Fiji: In Fiji, the Momoan Park is going to become a center for eco-tourism, and ecotourism activities, according to an article published in the Fiji Sun.
  2. From India:  An article in The relates that in India, the Telangana State Forest Development Corporation has proposed projects specifically to attract visitors looking to appreciate nature and wildlife. The backwaters of Nagarjuna Sagar Reservoir in Nalgonda district have been acquired and a proposal has been submitted for transfer of land to the TSFDC, selected for fishing and views. Independent cottages, common dormitories, restaurant and other amenities would come up and a tourism circuit connecting nearby interesting places is planned, Mr. Mitra said.Another eco-tourism project has been proposed near the Kawal Tiger Reserve. About six acres of land would be purchased to serve as visitor amenity center for those planning to go on a jungle safari.
  3. From New Zealand:  A new aquarium and marine center will open in 2021, which has been designed to educate and provide information related to local eco-tourism.

    It is hoped this expansion of the Marine Parade aquarium will generate jobs, grow the local economy, creating a unique eco tourism destination, and deliver a landmark conservation center of excellence. The aquarium and center have a cost of $45 million, with a $7m investment from the council over three years, and the balance sought through a mix of private, and public investment.

  4. From Delaware, USA: An online newspaper in Delaware reported that various companies have different tours that allow tourists to gently observe nature.  Those include “floating yoga mats”, LED lit stand-up paddle tours, full moon excursion tours, and kayaking, on which tourists can observe wild horses, eagles, osprey, pelicans, herons, horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, and end up with a stop at a local brewery.
  5. From Indonesia:  The Asia Sentinel had a story about ecologically conscious travel in the rainforests of Sumatra.  It mentions the Hadabuan Hills as one of many locally-recognized conservation areas (according to the article, it is not a national park, a wildlife sanctuary, or anything else, just an unmanaged area that happens to contain some of the rarest wildlife in the world).  While discussing Sumatra and the effects of the 1997 World Economic Crisis, the article’s author also mentions the  “gargantuan and magical Gunung Leuser National Park”, which made me want to plan travel there right away.
  6. Thenmala_Ecotourism_bridge

“One could even combine a visit to Hadabuan Hills with a trip to nearby Lake Toba, the volcanoes of Beristagi, and a foodie trip to tasty Medan. [They] can even arrange for you to have some tuak or palm wine as you sit on your bungalow balcony watching bats flit against the stars.”

Sounds wonderful.


Contact Attorney Robert Miller for any questions about international travel related to eco-tourism.


This Week in EcoTourism News

August 28, 2016

An article that I recently shared pointed out how purchasing experiences brings more happiness to individuals than purchasing things.  Purchasing a home, clothing, cars, and other material goods doesn’t come close to the happiness boost that experiences such as travel, dining with friends or family, or nature does.

Spending time in nature, while minimizing impact on nature, is a travel goal worth underlining, and worth promoting wherever in the world it happens.  This past week the following stories came across my desk:

  1. Romania Tourism Revamp Aims for more Danube, Less Dracula.  One man, Mr. Patzaichin, is bringing tourists to the Blue Danube of Strauss, rather than the focus in the past two decades on the culture and myths around Dracula. Romania is a country that can certainly have both.
  2. Apatani Tribe Giving Back to Nature.  In rural India, a tribe living in the Ziro Valley is notable for their low impact on their environment.  The customs and practices of the tribe may teach others how to use techniques that have the least impact on the environment.
  3. The Nenetsky Nature Reserve in Arctic Russia is opening a new eco-tourism route, called “Barefoot Across the Tundra“, in 2017.  It’s a five kilometer route, and sounds like quite an experience:  “Walking across the tundra barefoot is a fantastic experience. You have the indescribable feeling of sinking into the moss, catching your toes on the lichen, having berries burst under your soles, and then walking across soft, warm sand,” said Valentina Semenchenko, deputy director of environmental education at Saylyugemsky National Park.”
  4. In Maine, a Couple has Started a new Ecotourism Company, Venture Outside, which aims to provide tourists with “physical and holistic activities in natural settings around the world”.  Their most popular excursion is called the TMT  — the Try Maine Tri — a five-day adventure designed to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. The itinerary includes three sports, interspersed around other activities in various places throughout Maine, including the Boothbay-Camden area, Downeast-Acadia National Park region, and Baxter State Park.
  5. The Country of Ghana is getting a 1.2 billion Ultra Modern Ecotourism Park in its Capital City.  That funding will bring construction of amusement parks, orchards, an arboretum, wildlife safaris, museums, ecocommercial enclaves, and ecolodges, with as little disruption to natural vegetation cover as possible.

Snowy Owls and Eco Tourism and Travel in Montana

April 4, 2012
Young Snowy Owl on the tundra at Barrow Alaska.

Young Snowy Owl on the tundra at Barrow Alaska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Denver Holt arrived in Montana as the featured speaker at the Greater Polson Community Foundation event in mid-March with a topic at hand, and a title for his lecture.

“Ecotourism and the Unique Opportunities in the Mission Valley,” it was called.

Within 60 seconds he had tossed it out in favor of a slideshow and lecture on snowy owls.

Give ’em what they want, Holt figured.

For three months, snowy owls have been just about all anyone has wanted Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, to talk about.

Which was the whole point of his discarded ecotourism lecture to begin with. People are interested. They’ll come. They’ll spend money while they’re here.

Up to 25 of the large, magnificent birds congregated in the Mission Valley this winter. The visitors from the Arctic lured more visitors – the human kind – not only from Montana, but from approximately 25 other states, at a time of year when you’d normally swear the closest tourist was in Hawaii.

Everyone from serious birdwatchers, to Harry Potter fans (the popular fictional character kept one as a pet), to the merely curious was drawn to the Polson area this winter by the snowy owls.


The irruption – a dramatic, irregular migration of a large number of birds to areas where they aren’t normally found – wasn’t confined to Polson.

Snowy owls showed up across the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in what Holt calls “the biggest wildlife viewing event in this country in decades.”

The Mission Valley was perfectly positioned to cash in on the local interest.

But tourists who could have found snowy owls closer to home came to Montana, in the dead of winter (and minus skis and snowboards), from South Carolina, Texas, Washington, New Mexico and more.

“It’s been the craziest January and February I’ve ever seen,” says Mary Edelman, restaurant manager at Ninepipes Lodge south of Ronan. “Our February was better than our October, which never happens. We’re lucky if we book a room a week for overnight guests in February and January, but we had 12 to 15 rooms booked every weekend this year.”

Two things helped.

For one, most of the blizzard of birds conveniently parked themselves on rooftops, chimneys and fence posts smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood on the southern edge of Polson. The big white owls with the 5-foot wingspans were easy to find.

Perhaps more importantly, though he won’t admit to it, one of the world’s leading experts in snowy owls is parked right here in the valley at the Owl Research Institute.

Holt has spent years traveling to the Arctic in the summertime to study the birds in their native habitat, and when media from across the country went looking for someone to explain the appearance of snowy owls across the United States this winter, Holt was often the person they turned to.

He was able to not only answer their questions, but note that lots of the snowy owls had shown up here, too.

“I really don’t want to take credit for it,” Holt says. “The truth is the Mission Valley has one of the highest numbers of wintering birds of prey in the Northwest.”


And that’s one of the points Holt wanted to make about the potential of ecotourism right here in the valley.

The area, perhaps naturally, aims most of its promotional efforts around the summer months, Flathead Lake, the Mission Mountains and more mainstream tourist activities.

But Holt points to a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report – the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation – that says wildlife watching was a $45.7 billion-a-year industry in the United States.

That’s more than fishing ($42 billion) or hunting ($22.9 billion).

Furthermore, the report estimates that more than 71 million Americans take part in wildlife watching activities, compared with 30 million who fish or 12.5 million who hunt.

The majority of wildlife watchers, Holt says, are birdwatchers.

“Waterfowl is No. 1, and birds of prey are No. 2,” he says. “It’s an interesting demographic. The average age of birders is 50, and their average salary is more than $75,000. They typically have a higher income and education.”

Those 71.1 million wildlife watchers, Holt says, “is four times more than NFL attendance, but it’s like no one even knows about it.”


Holt does, of course.

A longtime part-time guide for Texas-based Victor Emanuel Nature Tours – he led a Montana snowy owl tour for the Texas-based firm in February – Holt and Megan Fylling have started Wild Planet Nature Tours locally.

Of the half-dozen tours on its website currently taking registrants, three are for trips to Alaska, Mexico and Guatemala.

The other three are in Montana.

Holt suggests those who rely on, and promote, tourism, should consider using some resources to attracting more wildlife watchers.

It’s not just the snowy owls.

The area teems with raptors, including golden and bald eagles, peregrine and prairie falcons. The Owl Research Institute is here for a reason: long-eared, short-eared, great-horned, barn, northern pygmy, northern saw-whet, western screech. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have reintroduced trumpeter swans.

The National Bison Range at Moiese has documented more than 200 species of birds that live there or drop by, from great blue herons to black-billed cuckoos.

It also has a pretty impressive list of wingless wildlife as well that starts, but certainly does not end, with bison – elk, deer, pronghorns, coyotes, black bears and more.

The Mission Valley, Holt says, need not wait for the irregular irruptions of snowy owls to capitalize on ecotourism.


When, or if, snowy owls return in such large numbers is anyone’s guess.

They’re likely to begin their return journey to their nesting grounds in the Arctic virtually any second.

“If we could figure out a way to keep them here, it’d be fantastic,” Heather Knutson, president of the Polson Chamber of Commerce, says with a laugh. “Our number of visitors, and calls we’ve gotten, is significantly up from last year. If anyone has any ideas on how to keep them here that are legal, let me know.”

The truth is that there’s almost always a snowy owl or two that show up in the Mission Valley in the winter. The birds usually aren’t as visible, and in such great numbers, as this year, is all.

They are an attraction like no other, Holt admits.

“No. 1, it’s because they’re owls,” he says. “Only certain groups generate so much interest – owls, penguins, whales, koala bears.”

“Snowy owls are in the top tier” of owls, he goes on. “There’s something about white animals that takes it to another level, and really fascinates people – not just birdwatchers, but doctors, lawyers, secretaries, bartenders, carpenters. It’s true with polar bears, Arctic foxes, beluga whales and white bison, too. There’s something about them – do they seem magical? Angelic? I don’t know. But people love them.”

They’ll also travel long distances to see them.

What Denver Holt started to tell that audience in mid-March is that they’ve got lots of other species people will come to look at and photograph as well. Maybe not in the numbers that the snowy owls attract.

But wildlife watching is still a multibillion-dollar industry.

September 30, 2011
Island Kauai, Na Pali Coast

Image via Wikipedia

The San Francisco Gate newspaper recently featured an article from Jeanne Cooper about companies that have won the “gold medal” for being green, or eco-friendly.

“It’s not always easy being green on vacation in Hawaii. After all, any tour company can call itself “eco-friendly,” especially if it thinks it will lure environmentally minded clients. But simply telling snorkelers not to touch the turtles or recycling the water bottles of hikers doesn’t make them green (although it certainly doesn’t hurt).

Thankfully, the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association has started certifying tour operators through a program designed to educate them on “the responsible use of natural and cultural resources”—and to raise visitors’ awareness as well. By encouraging conservation and sustainability, the association also hopes to increase community support for the visitor industry. And why shouldn’t those who make the most money from the islands’ unique environment be expected to do the most to protect it?

Volunteers from the Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i, University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, among others, helped create the protocol for certification. Among other requirements, the tour companies must provide a “direct, personal experience of nature”; have a written sustainability plan that shows commitment to “ecotourism principles” and contribute to statewide or local “environmental conservation initiatives” as well as to the communities in which they operate.

The first 14 companies to be certified were announced this week, with three achieving “Gold” status, valid for three years; those designated as “Silver” or “Bronze” are allowed to reapply next year for Gold certification after making changes in their operations. Many are already well known for being leaders in traveling lightly on the land — or water; in fact, representatives of the Silver-certified Pacific Whale Foundation (Maui) and Kualoa Ranch (Oahu) served on the volunteer advisory board that developed the certification program.

I’ve explored Hawaii — both as a paying customer and a member of the press — with several of the operators, including Gold-certified Atlantis Adventures, which offers submarine excursions off Oahu, Maui and the island of Hawaii, and Trilogy Excursions, which operates snorkeling trips off Maui and Lanai, plus the Silver-certified Kayak Kauai, which also leads guided hikes from its base in Hanalei. I was already impressed with their general approach to sustainability, environment and the host culture (as it’s called in the biz), but it’s even better to know others have scrutinized the details and found them worthy—or at least worthy-ish. Kualoa Ranch does host ATV rides in its lush valley on the Windward Side of Oahu, and Wild Side Specialty Tours, another Silver-certified company, promotes swimming with wild dolphins on Oahu’s Leeward Side, neither of which rates exceptionally green in my book.

The new list has also introduced me to organizations such as the Pacific Island Institute, which puts together programs for groups on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai and Molokai, and is “dedicated to providing positive cultural interactions; to ensuring our programs are culturally and environmentally sensitive; to involving local people in decision making; and to protecting, sustaining and respecting indigenous cultures and environments.” Unfortunately for me, its market is group travel, not individuals, but conference and incentive trip planners may want to take note. Fortunately, there are plenty of other newly certified operators on the list to check out.

The complete list of newly certified ecotour operators, with descriptions and links for those not already mentioned above:



  • Hawaiian Paddle Sports — outrigger canoe and kayak tours of Maui; also offers surf and stand-up paddle lessons
  • Hike Maui — East Maui (including Hana) and Haleakala hikes, plus a combination kayak/snorkel/hike with partner Kelli’s Kayaks
  • Jack’s Diving Locker — Scuba and snorkeling trips on the Big Island
  • Kayak Kauai
  • Kualoa Ranch
  • Pacific Islands Institute
  • Pacific Whale Foundation
  • Wild Side Specialty Tours


  • Annette’s Adventures —personalized vacations using locally owned, environmentally conscious lodgings and tour operators
  • Bike Hawaii — Biking (road and mountain), hiking and snorkeling on Oahu’s Windward Side
  • Hawai’i Forest & Trail — Guided volcano, waterfall, Mauna Kea and birdwatching hikes on the Big Island.

Read more:

New Mexico looking for a few good ecotourists

June 2, 2010
San Geronimo bell tower
Image by BaylorBear78 via Flickr

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico wants to join the ecotourism trend, promoting not only the state’s natural beauty but also outdoor adventure, cultural heritage preservation and access to wild places.

New Mexico’s ecotourism venture was launched early last year, but the actual pilot programs begin this summer around the Gila Wilderness near Silver City and Taos in northern New Mexico.

Tourism is New Mexico’s No. 2 industry, behind oil and gas production, and brings in an estimated $5.7 billion annually. And if ecotourism can be fairly described as nature-based specialty travel or wilderness experiences that enrich and educate, the state thinks it has something to offer.

Visitors are attracted by “that sense of place we have here in New Mexico,” said Deputy Tourism Secretary Jennifer Hobson, who oversees the initiative. “They want to go someplace where they can learn something, have a story to tell, meet the local people.”

In describing ecotourism, Hobson has adopted the definition of the 25-year-old International Ecotourism Society: responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.

She said New Mexico is ahead of other states in developing a statewide program.

Ecotourism can be hiking and camping with a local guide far into the wilderness, spending a day working on a cattle ranch with a rancher or taking a photography trip on that ranch, or watching a pueblo artist create a pot during a tour with a Native American guide.

Outfitters, guides and others around New Mexico already have been doing ecotourism but “didn’t know there was a name for it,” said Sandy Cunningham of EcoNewMexico, which has a $250,000 contract with the Department of Tourism to develop the program.

Smaller communities will benefit most from the state’s effort, said Arturo Sandoval, president of the 19-year-old Center of Southwest Culture Inc., dedicated to preserving northern New Mexico’s traditional land-based communities.

Sandoval’s organization is in the third year of what he calls “heritage and cultural tourism,” recruiting people to spend a weekend cleaning out irrigation canals — known as acequias — alongside the people who use them to irrigate small farms.

This June’s effort will include a traditional matanza, or feast, a talk by an acequia expert and an evening of New Mexico music.

“Heritage and cultural tourism is tied to the real purpose of trying to help small farmers make a 21st-century income in a global economy,” Sandoval said. It brings in tourists in an unobtrusive way “that doesn’t end up with people building resort hotels.”

Cunningham said the state initiative wants to attract tourists to places that need economic development who will hire locals who “love guiding, who love hosting people.”

Currently, the average tourist spends 2.2 days in New Mexico. Cunningham said ecotourism brings in fewer people who stay longer and spend more.

Everyone from organic growers to artists and conservation groups stands to benefit “from a new and different type of traveller” who becomes passionate about something and wants to return, she said.

The program also will promote New Mexico to its residents.

Cunningham is working on a summer trip aimed at New Mexicans — two days rafting in Chama, two days llama trekking near Taos and two days camping in northern New Mexico, with such extras as fishing, mountain biking and catered meals.

The trip will highlight cultural preservation, rivers and wildlife habitat, plus local guides.

“We have the most incredible state and things you can do here, but the guides can really bring it to life,” Cunningham said.

Hobson and Cunningham see ecotourism as broadening the tourism market.

More ranchers, for example, are embracing the idea, Cunningham said. Some already open up their land during hunting season, so adding other programs offers another way to make money.

“They already have wildlife. Whether you’re shooting with a gun or a camera, it doesn’t matter,” she said.

The Silver City and Taos areas were chosen for the pilot projects after workshops that brought together groups ranging from outfitters and guides to ranchers and organic farmers.

While tourists already go to Taos and Silver City and those communities will benefit from the ecotourism pilot project, it emphasizes the rural backcountry — “not what the typical tourist is doing,” Hobson said.

“We hope to be in more rural areas in the future,” she said.


If You Go…

New Mexico Ecotourism:

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List of Ecotourism sites

April 10, 2009
Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. ...
Image via Wikipedia

If you share a love of both the environment and travel, then an ecotourism vacation could be a way to combine the best of both into one great adventure. You’ll get to see some of the most remote and beautiful locations on earth, all while making sure you preserve them for those who follow. Whether you’re new to ecotourism or an old pro, these sites can help you get some basic information, book a trip, and even contribute to making sure that the world’s most spectacular sites stay that way.

Organizations and Associations

There are numerous organizations worldwide that are dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment while promoting tourism. Here are a few you can get some great information from or even use to get involved.

  1. VISIT: VISIT stands for “Voluntary Initiative for Sustainability in Tourism” and this site was created to help tourists and tourist destination countries work together to protect the environment while still making it accessible for everyone.
  2. Tourism Concern: This organization focuses on issues related to tourism and the environment. You can read up on campaigns and get helpful information for your next trip.
  3. The Travel Foundation: This charity website can be a great place to find information on how you can better learn to travel without harming the environment. Even if you can’t take a trip, you can also get involved and give back through the site.
  4. This international tourism club is a great place to meet up with others interested in ecotourism, find environmentally friendly hotels, and even get links to jobs in ecotourism. Join the site or sign up to receive emails with loads of useful ecotourism information.
  5. International Ecotourism Society: This worldwide community can help you to learn more about ecotourism, support programs, find ecotourism experts, and locate exciting destinations and environmentally friendly accommodations for your next vacation.
  6. The Blue Flag Organization: This Foundation for Environmental Education-run site can help you plan your next beach getaway. Blue Flag rates and certifies thousands of beaches in Europe, South Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean on water quality, environmental management as well as a number of other factors.
  7. The Nature Conservancy: It’s only natural that one of the largest organizations dedicated to preserving nature would have a whole portion of its site dedicated to ecotourism. Learn how to reduce your impact, take trips through the Nature Conservancy, or check out their list of resources to learn more.
  8. The Rainforest Alliance: Rainforest lovers will find numerous resources on this site about preserving the rainforest, rainforest friendly tours, and even a place where you can adopt a little piece of the rainforest for yourself.
  9. South American Explorers: This non-profit organization can help you to book your next trip to South America. Whether you want to try out your Spanish in Lima or travel down the Amazon in Brazil, you’ll find help on this site to do so all while being ecologically responsible.
  10. World Tourism Organization: Find out everything you ever wanted to know about tourism on this site. The sustainable tourism section has articles on the latest developments and important issues in ecotourism.
  11. Green Cross International: According to the mission statement on this site, Green Cross “provides unbiased environmental analysis and expertise, information dissemination, education, objective evaluations for public debate, scientific studies, and social and medical support.” This site can be a great way to learn the real statistics of any place you choose to visit.

Travel Booking

Whether you want to book an exotic rainforest vacation or a camel ride across the Sahara, these sites can help you find a trip that will be both environmentally friendly and fun.

  1. Sustainable Travel International: On this comprehensive site, you’ll find all kinds of ecotourism resources including trip bookings, eco-certification, newsletters and even advice on how to carbon-offset your trip.
  2. At this site, you’ll find loads of great ecologically friendly holiday getaways as well as travel tips, an ecotourism blog, and even an ezine to help keep you informed.
  3. MesoAmerican Ecotourism Alliance: Recognized for their ecotourism trips by National Geographic, the MEA offers numerous exciting vacations that will help inspire your love for the environment and nurture your adventurous spirit.
  4. contains a directory of accredited green hotels and travel companies to help make finding and booking your next ecotour easier than ever. With destinations on every continent, you can find sustainable vacations just about anywhere.
  5. EcoTour: If you want to book an earth-friendly vacation, EcoTour is a great place to start your planning. With hundreds of ecotour providers, you’ll find tours to everywhere in the world from the Congo to Sahara. Additionally, you’ll find travel guides and articles to help you learn more about your destination of choice.
  6. EcoTourism at Conservation International: Whether you’re looking for an African safari or a trip to the Galapagos, you can find information on how to do so responsibly and even find some very special destinations the organization has helped set up in Brazil, Bolivia, Ghana, Venezuela and more.
  7. EarthFoot: This small company can help you create a fun and personalized environmentally conscious vacation. See the bright avian residents of Guatemala on a birding getaway or swim with the dolphins in beautiful Hawaii.
  8. GAP Adventures: Ecotourism doesn’t have to be boring. Turn your trip into an unforgettable adventure with this booking site. You can visit the new seven wonders of the world or get up close and personal with the mountain gorillas of Uganda.
  9. Global Exchange: Global exchange offers what are referred to as “reality tours”. Travel to Cambodia to learn about and how you can help stop child prostitution or get informed on protecting the coastal environment of Costa Rica.
  10. Intrepid Travel: This award winning company specializes in environmentally responsible tourism and can help you arrange your next eco-friendly vacation. With trips to just about every corner of the globe, you’ll undoubtedly find something that interests you and won’t leave you feeling guilty.
  11. Journeys International: You’ll find a wide variety of small group tours on this family-owned site. Whether your interests lie in trekking through the Andes or exploring the wildlife from the icy decks of an Antarctic cruise, this site has something for you.
  12. Blue Ventures: Combine education, research and conservation with the trip of a lifetime. This site’s tour of Madagascar was named one of the top 50 tours of a lifetime by National Geographic Traveler.
  13. Tribes Travel: This fair trade travel company offers expeditions to Africa, South America and Asia that can allow you to watch lions sleeping away the day or enjoy an eco-friendly honeymoon in a posh hotel in Marrakech.
  14. Wildland Adventures: Make your next trip an adventure by booking a safari or trip down the Nile with this small ecotourism company.
  15. Peregrine Adventures: This Australian based company offers small group adventure tours to destinations worldwide including far-flung locales like the Himalayas and Antarctica.
  16. World Expeditions: Get adventurous without hurting the environment with this ecotourism company. Book trips to volcanic landscapes, the lemur filled jungles of Madagascar or follow in the steps of Genghis Khan on the Mongolian Steppes.
  17. Earth Routes: Find your next earth-friendly vacation through this site. You’ll find tours to the Caribbean, Switzerland and even a few small ship cruises as well as travel tips and green travel information.
  18. Orbitz isn’t one of the biggest travel sites without a reason: they offer travel tailored to just about any need, even ecotourism. You’ll find a list of destinations, information about ecotourism, travel tips and more on this part of Orbitz’s site.


Blogs are becoming and ever more popular source of information for Internet users, and these ecotourism blogs can be a great way to learn about everything eco-friendly.

  1. Ecotourism Blog: This blog covers some of the most beautiful destinations in the world in regard to protecting and preserving them as well as reporting on various news stories that apply to ecotourism.
  2. EcoTravelLogue: This blog provides all kinds of information for the potential ecotraveler with posts on destinations, planning a trip, accommodation, things to do, and more.
  3. Development Crossing: Whether you’re looking for information on global warming or issues concerning ecotourism, this environmentally conscious blog addresses it all.
  4. Beautiful Oceans: If your ecotourism dreams lie in the coral reefs or kelp forests of the world’s oceans, then you’ll find plenty to read about here. Learn about reef conservation, eco-diving, and even a little bit about underwater photography.
  5. Low Impact Living: Focusing on all aspects of low impact living, this blog contains some great information on vacations that won’t take a toll on the environment. Learn about organic eating, green spas, hybrid car rentals, environmentally friendly hotels, and more.

Information and Guides

Before you ever leave your home, read up on all kinds of ecotourism tips, facts and other information on these great sites.

  1. EcoHoliday Guide: Find tons of resources for planning your next eco-trip on this site. You’ll find information on environmentally conscious vacation rentals, travel agents, activities, transport, and even places to eat.
  2. World Surface: This online travel magazine was created to promote sustainable tourism and is contributed to by writers and photographers from all over the globe. Visitors to the site will find information on tons of destinations and can create their own travel diaries and photo albums to share with other travelers.
  3. Planeta: Find resources on ecotourism, recommendations on books, and guides on everything from bird watching to local crafts on this site.
  4. GreenTraveller: Get some great tips on how to have a greener and more environmentally friendly holiday at GreenTraveller. You’ll find directories of green hotels, tours, and low impact ways to travel to them.
  5. Eco-Index: Sustainable Tourism: Here you’ll find a list of businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been certified to be environmentally friendly. It can be a great way to protect the beautiful rainforests and beaches of these destinations while making sure they stay that way.
  6. This online magazine features stories from all over the world about the most exciting ecotourist destinations. It also features a directory of tour companies and agents to help you book your next trip.
  7. Transitions Abroad: This site addresses a wide variety of travel issues, but it does contain a valuable section on ecotourism. You’ll find responsible travel programs and article archives, as well as links to important websites and organizations.
  8. NewConsumer: This UK based magazine is dedicated to stories about how you can live a more ethically, vacations included. Check out the travel section for articles on environmentally friendly vacation ideas all over the world.
  9. Big Volcano Ecotourism Resource Center: Find information on the history of ecotourism, codes of conduct, and loads of other ecotourism articles and resources on this site.
  10. Best Ecotourism Vacations: Not sure where you want to head to? Get some ideas of the best and most popular ecotourism destinations in this article from SmarterTravel.


Take ecotourism to the next level with these sites that allow you to get your hands dirty working on various humanitarian and environmental projects all over the world.

  1. GoEco: This organization arranges volunteer trips to South Africa, Kenya, Nepal and much more to help improve the welfare of the local people and the environment.
  2. EcoVolunteer: Just like the name suggests, this site helps set travelers up on various volunteering vacations, and users can choose their trips based on preferred destinations or particular animals they are interested in helping.
  3. Global Vision: Make a difference in some of the world’s locations that are in most desperate need of conservation help. Work at preserving marine environments, do wildlife research or even help teach others about conservation and wildlife.
  4. Voluntourists Without Borders: Use your volunteer power and vacation time to work on issues involving rural poverty, conservation and environmentally friendly tourism. Work to help preserve the Pang Soong Nature Trails or the village of Ban Mae Lai.
  5. People and Places: On this site, you’ll find a diverse assortment of volunteer projects that range from wildlife conservation in India to building Habitat for Humanity houses in Madagascar.
  6. Green Volunteers: With one of the largest collections of conservation volunteering opportunities, this site is be a valuable resource for those who want to provode a little environmental help on their vacation. Just purchase the guide and choose your exciting vacation from hundreds of options.
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National Geographic’s pilot project in Washington and Oregon

January 15, 2009
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National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has joined organizations in Washington and Oregon to publicize the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Central Cascades. The pilot project seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains and enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

A community-based nomination process launched today will be used to create a National Geographic “Geotourism MapGuide” for the region. The “Central Cascades” area designated for the map stretches from Mount Rainier National Park to Crater Lake National Park, including communities plus private and public lands in both states. The printed Central Cascades MapGuide will be available in September 2009. A parallel interactive Web site is also being developed.

“From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, the spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique,” said James Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations. “National Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the globe.”

Residents and visitors are invited to nominate for inclusion in the MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and local businesses that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal. Nominations may be made through March 29, 2009, at . The site nomination process was opened today at a reception in Portland, where Dion officially announced the Central Cascades Geotourism Initiative and asked for public participation.

Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities throughout the Central Cascades to encourage nominations and community involvement.

“Because those who live and recreate here know it best, participation by local residents is critical to the project’s success,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “Our goal is to get nominations from across the region that identify the things people love best about the Cascades; those ‘gotta see, gotta go’ places we are most enthusiastic to share with visitors.”

Beyond open-to-the-public map point nomination, the MapGuide development process calls for oversight by a regional committee. The Central Cascades Stewardship Council was formed and met for the first time in Stevenson, Wash., on Dec. 4, 2008. It represents geotourism perspectives that include community leadership, historic preservation, natural resources, public lands management, indigenous peoples, traditional and local arts, agriculture, tourism promotion and local businesses.

“An inherent benefit of geotourism is connecting diverse interests under a common goal,” continued Dion. “The design of the MapGuide process, specifically in forming a regional stewardship council, encourages and builds mutually beneficial partnerships.”

A primary task for the Stewardship Council will be to review and sort nomination submissions prior to sending them to National Geographic. National Geographic will have final say on the selected sites, an estimated total of 150 map points.

Washington and Oregon both seek to grow rural tourism under their economic development strategies. They also acknowledge the sensitive balance between growth and conservation, particularly in the Central Cascades region. Both states look to identify and develop product that would be attractive to a “geotourist” as a means to achieve balanced economic growth.

“Stimulating economic growth in the Central Cascades by encouraging geotourism efforts is a win-win,” explained Marsha Massey, executive director, Washington State Tourism. “The potential for the region to be sought out for its intrinsic assets is tremendous.”

According to a 2002 study by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the U.S. Travel Association, more than 55 million adults in the United States could be described as “geotourists,” who travel to enjoy the distinctive character of places and want them to stay appealing. These travelers control more than half the household income of all U.S. travelers.

Additional perceived benefits of the MapGuide include calling forth the themes that are important to conserving the gems of the region; laying the groundwork for future collaboration of individual, business, community and conservation interests; building pride in the region and its communities; and inspiring stewardship of the region.

The National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations is providing overall project direction under Jonathan Tourtellot, the center’s director. National Geographic Maps, led by chief cartographer Allen Carroll, will handle cartography.

Coordinating this geotourism initiative in Washington and Oregon are the Central Cascades Project Advisory Committee, a coalition of Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, Rural Development Initiatives, Sustainable Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Significant funding and regional leadership are being provided by Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, USDA Forest Service/National Forest Scenic Byways Transportation and Tourism Planning, USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Cultural Trust, Clackamas County Tourism Development Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Central Oregon Visitors Association, Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon, Portland Metro and the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar “Geotourism MapGuides” in several other regions around the world. MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in Greater Yellowstone, the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Guatemala, Sonoran Desert (Arizona, Sonora), Honduras, Peru, Baja California, Vermont and Appalachia.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 325 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

For more information, visit .