Posted tagged ‘ecotourism’

Thoughts on Ecotourism in the form of sustainable farming

July 16, 2016

Some thoughts on Ecotourism from news stories this week (July 8-15, 2016):

After reading about the eighth annual Ecotourism conference, which took place earlier this month, this week I saw an “ecotourism” article about a working farm, with goats, in Reno, of all places, which I thought was a strange subject and location for ecotourism.  When I, and I believe most people, think of ecotourism, we tend to think of unspoiled wilderness, or nature, and certainly pre-agricultural era environments.

The article really is about structuring farms to take advantage of natural symbiosis and existing processes in nature, and to that extent, it reminds me of the work of Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms.  You may be familiar with Joel Salatin from author Michael Pollan’s works mentioning him (in books and articles).  Salatin raises cattle, pigs, chickens, and other animals, and uses the symbiotic relationships between the animals and the growth and decomposition of natural processes to make a self contained system for growing animals and crops naturally. Joel is well known in the organic farming world for his nine books and many lectures, as well as being featured in several documentaries.  And his farm has been a tourist attraction of sorts as a result.

For example, Salatin’s structure of farming emphasizes healthy grass on which animals can thrive in a symbiotic cycle of feeding. he calls himself a “sun farmer”, as a result, as the grass grown by the sun is the center of the structure of the farming process.  Cows are moved from one pasture to another rather than being centrally corn fed. Then chickens in portable coops are moved in behind them, where they dig through the cow dung to eat protein-rich fly larvae while further fertilizing the field with their droppings.

I hadn’t thought about that as an eco-friendly aspect of tourism, but it clearly is.  It appeals to those interested in viewing the farm and the processes, and educates and helps save the impact on the Earth as well.

–Robert Miller






South Carolina getting an Ecotourism Park?

May 29, 2012
Patriots Point in Charleston, SC.

Patriots Point in Charleston, SC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A zip-line running from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown some 850 feet to shore is among the recreational possibilities being explored in a proposal to locate an adventure/eco-tourism-themed park at Patriots Point.

Other options include a boardwalk through a tree canopy, a tree house and a climbing wall.


“It’s just a great opportunity for both organizations. We’re pretty excited about the possibilities,” said Wayne Adams, Patriots Point vice chairman.

The new park on less than 10 acres would be a way to give more people access to Patriots Point, he said.

“It’s on land that we can’t use for anything else,” Adams said.

Patriots Point board member Edwin Taylor said the venture would cost the Naval and Maritime Museum nothing and could increase visitors.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

The PRC would fund the park, Taylor said.

PRC Chairman Ravi Sanyal said $1.5 million for the eco-tourism park became available when plans for an eco-lodge at Folly Beach fell by the wayside. No new funds would be needed for the project, he said.

The Patriots Point board approached PRC commissioners with the idea of an eco-adventure park that could also include kayaking and wall-climbing.

“The commission was overwhelmingly in favor of the idea. It’s a trend that we want to be a part of. PRC wants to be a leader in that genre. We want Charleston to be an eco-tourism destination,” Sanyal said.

PRC would lease land for the park from Patriots Point.

“We would fully operate the park,” he said.

PRC Executive Director Tom O’Rourke said that he and Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette came up with the idea for the park.

“This is an adventure park,” O’Rourke said.

He noted the proximity of hotels and the possibility for tourism packages. Canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and scuba diving might be part of the park, he said.

“Whatever is adventurous is on the table,” he said.

Burdette said the park is an option for land that has limited possibilities because of how its use is restricted. Patriots Point has 280,000 visitors annually. Existing parking would be used for the adventure park visitors, he said.

“These things are very popular,” he said. “At this point, we can’t see any downside to it. If we don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it

Vietnam eco-tourism has spinoff for ethnic villagers

May 24, 2012
English: Cat Tien National Park, Viet Nam Tiến...

English: Cat Tien National Park, Viet Nam Tiếng Việt: Vườn quốc gia Cát Tiên (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tourism will ensure stable incomes for residents in buffer zones around national parks and will ensure better protection of the parks and the wildlife they shelter. Pham Hoang Nam reports.Tham Thi Men was everywhere at the same time. The 48-year-old ethnic Tay woman was on stage singing a traditional song; she was being an attractive hostess inviting guests to enjoy Tay cakes that she and her neighbours had made, and she was in the kitchen preparing lunch for visitors at the communal Long House.

The Long House is located near the new ethnic Stieng resettlement area in Ta Lai Commune, Tan Phu District, in the southern province of Dong Nai.

The 125sq.m house was built in five months with bamboo, wood, rattan and other natural materials. It opened to visitors in the middle of February.

The house is the first community-based tourism guesthouse in the area. It was built under a project, funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), that promotes community-based ecotourism in Viet Nam’s national parks.

The project has been carried out by the WWF in collaboration with the Nam Cat Tien National Park since 2008.

It directly benefits the livelihoods of local communities while conserving nature, WWF Viet Nam director Tran Minh Hien said.

“Ecotourism planning in and around the park is carried out through a participatory multi-stakeholder process and is incorporated into development plans at commune, district and provincial levels,” she explained.

According to the chairman of Ta Lai Commune, Dang Vu Hiep, the house offers not only cultural meaning but also economic value to ethnic groups living in the region.

“Community-based tourism will create stable livelihoods for local people by helping reduce pressure on natural resources, raising people’s awareness of environmental protection and promoting cultural characters of ethnic communities,” he said.

The house is all set to receive visitors now. To introduce the Long House to travel agencies including adventure tour operators, project managers organised a trip few weeks ago to the national park.

Everything had been carefully prepared.

Special dishes typically eaten by local ethnic minorities of Stieng, Ma and Tay had been prepared. People in the communities had been employed as chefs, guides and hospitality service providers.

The community-based tourism model applied here had the participation of around 30 households.

“I have liked to sing and dance since I was a little girl. Now I can join the team to perform for visitors, that’s my dream. I can earn a living from what I like to do best,” 17-year-old K’Nhung said happily.

Would visitors come to stay in the Long House, the few people wondered.

“There are a few Vietnamese tourists who like adventure and eco-tourism. But the potential to attract foreign customers is very huge,” said Jean-Luc Voisin, director of the VietAdventure company.

The company is major partner with the park in the project.

“I believe the model will develop better in the near future. Tourists will enjoy a night in the forest, taste special food and traditional art performances by local residents,” he added.

From Ta Lai Commune, 12km from the head-office of Nam Cat Tien Park’s management board, tourists can trek or go cycling through the forest.

“If permitted, we would like to reopen the 60km cycling route through the park and Ta Lai will be our stopping place,” said Le Van Sinh, CEO of SinhBalo Adventure Travel company.

Project managers hope that around 4,500 visitors would visit Ta Lai each year.

They are also offering another buffer zone of the park, Dak Lua, as a tourism destination.

“We have already looked at Dak Lua, where has a very big rice field. We have chosen to develop the home-stay model there and three houses were selected. But Dak Lua is not as attractive as Ta Lai with its many traditional customs,” said Nguyen Thi Hai Ha, managing director of Innoviet company.

“We know it is very hard, but it’s a starting point to help villagers get involved in community tourism and improve their living standards while sharing the responsibility to protect the park,” said K’ Yeu, head of Ta Lai Village. — VNS

Kashmir makes changes to encourage eco-tourism

May 16, 2012

in Kashmir, the state environment department has pushed a proposal to constitute J&K Eco Tourism Board to the government to recommend measures and identify the potential places for the promotion of eco- tourism in the state.
Sources said that the proposal was under consideration of the General Administration Department (GAD) and a final decision in this regard was likely to be taken in near future.

Janakikadu Eco Tourism Project entrance Gate.

Janakikadu Eco Tourism Project entrance Gate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highly placed sources informed Greater Kashmir that the proposal for the creation of the Eco-Tourism Development Board was sent to the GAD before the annual Darbar move from Jammu to Srinagar.
“J&K has great potential for eco-tourism and the need is to promote the same. The government has taken the issue seriously and is making every effort to ensure a major breakthrough in the promotion of the lucrative activity. The Creation of JK Eco-Tourism Development Board will prove a major step forward in this direction” they said, adding that a full fledged board would be created after the proposal would get GAD’s nod.
They revealed that the Board would have members from Tourism Department, Wildlife, Environment and Forest departments, besides experts from various fields.
“The officials of Planning and Finance department, members of some NGO’s will also be among the Board members, who will identify the areas and their feasibility for the promotion of the Eco-tourism” they said.
The Eco-tourism provides the visitors and nature lovers an opportunity to travel to ecologically rich areas and appreciate the local culture and bewitching environs in a well guided manner taking care that the integrity of the ecosystem was not disturbed, sources said.
“Such activities create economic opportunities that make conservation and protection of natural resources advantageous to the local people. After the constitution of Board, facilities such as construction of huts, nature trails, treks, view points, safari drive and nature interpretation centre will be created in the identified areas” they said.
Sources said some huts constructed at Dera –ki- Gali area along Mughal Road was the first step of its kind towards Ecotourism promotion.
The Eco-tourism project also provides for training the local people in the identified areas as guides for the visiting tourists.
“The locals will be trained and in that way they would also get employment opportunities, besides the people will also earn   by offering accommodation facilities to the visiting tourists” they said.
Chief Wildlife Warden, AK Singh, while confirming the government’s move said that a proposal has been sent to the GAD department. “We are awaiting the approval after which a full fledged Board will be constituted” he said, while he refused to divulge the details about the possible members of the Board.

Kansas to become Eco Tourism Friendly

May 2, 2012
2011 EEOB 622 Field Herpetology Stanford

Ecotourism (Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory)

Kansas had an EcoTourism conference headed by the Governor of the state.

Things mentioned included herpetology tours, ways to get private landowners and agriculture involved in the tourism industry and resulting profits, better signs around the state, and ways to make Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira more easily enjoyed by visitors.

Brownback was one of several who said they left with a better idea of how to promote ecotourism in Kansas.

He now wants to devote more time and energy to the concept.

“I think we’ve come up with some real good things we can do here,” the governor said. “I think it was certainly a good start for me.”

Gov. Sam Brownback thinks it’s time for Kansas to better share its wetlands wealth with the rest of the world.

“I hear people say (Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge) are some of the best-kept secrets in the world. That’s not an accolade to me,” Brownback said Saturday at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.

Ted Eubanks, a nationally recognized expert in nature-based tourism, agrees and told Brownback and others at the first Governor’s Ecotourism Summit the state can improve how it markets a variety of attractions.

Eubanks spoke to Brownback and about 50 local and state tourism and wildlife officials gathered to discuss ways to promote nature-based tourism, including birding, hiking, mountain biking and kayaking, to help the Kansas economy.

Brownback became increasingly interested in ecotourism after traveling to Nebraska this spring to witness the sandhill crane migration, which draws visitors from all over the world.

In the past he’s held several summits to help promote the Flint Hills and started a celebrity pheasant hunt to bring more attention to the good hunting Kansas has to offer.

Now, he also wants to focus on what Kansas’ two main wetlands have to offer.

“Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms have excellent potential for the expansion of economic growth without spoiling the resource,” Brownback said.

Eubanks, a Texan with worldwide professional ecotoursim experience, said Kansas’ famed wetlands are special enough to draw global attention.

Both are considered world-class birding locations that often feature very rare birds, like whooping cranes.

Some days birders may see 100 or more other species, including many unique migrants at the areas.

Eubanks said the Internet is a great and inexpensive way to garner more attention. Better signs, especially along I-70, could get travelers to make the one-hour detour from the interstate to the wetlands area.

He said the wildlife viewing needs to be as easy as possible.

Things like observation blinds, viewing towers and guided tours could help, as could detailed information in handouts, online and on well-placed interpretive signs, he said.

“(Visitors) don’t want to be told to go see Sam down at the coffee shop, and he can tell you where to go,” Eubanks said.

Kansas communities also need to offer a good all-around experience for those coming to see the wetlands.

Ecotourists, he said, want a feel for the area, and to enjoy more than just a morning watching sandhill cranes.

Eubanks recommended ways to tell visitors about local personalities like Pelican Pete, a hermit who lived amid the Quivira marshes in an old chicken coop.

And all aspects of nature should be touted.

“You need to tell the story of (wild) sand plums that make the most wonderful jellies,” he said. “Someone that comes here needs to be introduced to the jellies because that helps introduce them to the land. Someone also needs to sell them some of those jellies. If you don’t reach out for those dollars, they’ll fly right through town.”

Though the natural offerings will get people coming to the area, some manufactured attractions can help.

Eubanks referenced long mountain bike trails created in North Dakota and geocaching events that draw many thousands.

One of Eubanks’ favorites is a fall foliage festival in Canadian, Texas, a small panhandle town.

He said the main fall colors are provided by poison ivy, but the festival has drawn national media attention and annually brings thousands of visitors.

After Eubanks’ talk, Brownback had participants brainstorm ideas.

Eco-Tourism grows in Patagonian Chile

April 24, 2012

The following article was published in the London Globe and Mail, and was written by Gordon Pitts, regarding eco-tourism in the Patagonia region of Chile.  

In the dark dense rain forest of Chilean Patagonia, I am retracing the steps of Charles Darwin, in a search for the freak of a frog that bears his name.

The charming quirk of Darwin’s Frog is the male’s proclivity for carrying tadpole eggs in his vocal sac before disgorging the tykes into the world. The frogs come in hues of brown to green, making the tiny creatures almost impossible to see in their swampy habitat.

But Diego Stock, my exuberant Chilean guide, insists that he has spotted one hopping around this squishy bog a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. It looks like a fluttering brown leaf, but as I bend closer, I catch the outline of one of the world’s most endangered species.

Darwin, the 19th-century father of evolutionary theory, encountered the frog in his voyages around South America in the 1830s. Now, 180 years later, I have come to Patagonia to witness another evolution – not just in this embattled frog, but in the new concept of capitalist conservation.

We are tramping through the forests around Melimoyu, a remote speck on the map 1,200 kilometres south of Santiago, Chile’s capital. It is a living laboratory of frogs, birds, trees, flowers, blue whales, penguins and a sea lion that plays hide and seek with our rafts and kayaks as we glide down the Marchant River.

Just as Darwin’s voyage expanded the understanding of life, Patagonia, one of the last vast empty places, is a test site for grafting protection of natural lands on to profit-driven ecotourism and real estate.

Melimoyu lies about halfway down the narrow ribbon of Chilean Patagonia, a region 1,800 kilometres long and fewer than 200 kilometres wide – from the Pacific to the Argentine border. Much of the land around Melimoyu is owned by Patagonia Sur, a company founded by U.S. social-media millionaire Warren Adams.

It is one of his six Patagonian properties, comprising 25,000 hectares, spanning ocean rain forest, gaucho grasslands in deep Andean valleys, and majestic glaciers on the ragged edge of South America. So far, two of these properties, coastal Melimoyu and inland Valle California, contain small luxury resorts, and a third, Lago Espolon, has more Spartan hostel accommodation.

“We are buying ecosystems under threat by development,” explains Adams, a Harvard MBA who sold his tech company to Amazon in 1998 for $100-million in shares. He was mesmerized by a trip to Patagonia with his wife, Megan, but he also observed a region that was in danger of a development landslide more transformative than any earthquake. It was poised to be overwhelmed by new roads, airstrips and potential transmission lines transporting power from planned hydro dams in the south.

He set out to save space for creatures like Darwin’s Frog, whose numbers have been devastated by viruses. And on this day in early April, Stock, who oversees guiding at Melimoyu’s eco-resort, is encouraged by the discovery of even a single specimen. He records the sighting on a clipboard – grist for a research foundation set up by Adams to study the region’s flora and fauna.

But make no mistake: Patagonia Sur (sur means south in Spanish) is a hard-nosed start-up in the tradition of the high-tech world where Adams earned his entrepreneurial stripes. It comprises a real-estate brokerage (catering to green-minded clientele), sustainable property development, carbon-offset trading and reforestation, as well as ecotourism targeted at affluent consumers who will spend $6,000 (U.S.) or more on a week that melds fly-fishing, sumptuous dining and a clear conscience.

Adams’s idea is that ecologically based tourism and real estate are not just beneficiaries of conservation – they can be drivers of preservation. He aims to attract investors by the potential for healthy rates of return earned on Patagonia’s still relatively inexpensive land. The funds will underwrite the acquisition of more and more property, to be protected by tough land-use covenants in perpetuity.

Adams could be building a model for saving other beautiful places – say, in rural Newfoundland, New Zealand or Africa. The old model was based on government-funded parks or non-profit groups wringing donations out of philanthropists. But Adams says there is only so much money available to non-profits – and governments are stretched.

Eco-Tourism in Louisiana

April 24, 2012

EcoTourism takes a major step forward in Louisiana

A series of maps and guides promoting Louisiana as a world-class eco-tourism destination are appearing  in tourism centers across the State.  With new technology in GPS and guides, tourists can now be able to find their way through parts of the state.

The publishers believe they’ve tapped a prosperous new market in the Gulf South, and that Louisiana is behind in this area.  “We’re very behind here in Louisiana, and in the United States.  In Europe it’s a huge draw”, says the publisher.

Looks like ‘Green’ is the universal symbol for sustaining the planet for future generations.