Posted tagged ‘Travel and Tourism’

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

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The Rise of Slow Travel in the U.K.

February 22, 2012

(Note from Robert:  The Following is a Guest Post from Charlotte Nicol of Most Curious Tours.  Enjoy–)

The rise of Slow travel in the UK

The Slow movement is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, encompassing slow travel, slow food, slow books, cities, and even schools. The movement began in Italy with a protest organised by Carlo Petrini’s against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome, 1986. This sparked the creation of the Slow food organisation, and further movements grew from this. When applied to travel, slow means having time to explore your surroundings, respecting the local culture, and having a meaningful connection to where you are staying – the opposite of hopping on a plane to Benedorm to live in a resort for a week. Although there is no hard and fast definition, most take this to mean travelling by foot, bike, and public transport, contributing to the local economy, and staying in one place for more than a couple of hours. Slow travellers generate wealth for small businesses run by local people, keep their carbon footprint to a minimum, and make a positive effort to interact with local communities.

An emphasis is also placed on enjoying the journey to the destination, as well as the destination itself. The idea of travelling and enjoying the method of travel is fairly alien in our society in which immediacy is celebrated. Arguably, as well as the economy, environment and communities that the Slow traveller visits, the Slow travel movement also encourages a different mentality – the importance of ‘now’.

Our minds are often occupied with the future or the past rather than the present – the Slow Travel movement encourages us to be in the present moment, and to enjoy our journey rather than counting down the minutes on the plane, or becoming hot and tired in the car. The slow travel movement places an emphasis on enjoying the journey to the final destination as well as the anticipation of the arrival.

(Charlotte Nicol is the co-founder of the UK based Tour company called Most Curious Tours. Recently launched, Most Curious Tours aims at showing tourists the hidden cultural hotspots of the UK, travelling in small groups by scenic railway routes, staying in independent accommodation, and attending local concerts and theatre productions in hand-picked destinations across the UK.)

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

April 11, 2011

Author (and darn great writer) Alice Henly had a great article about Ecotourism in Costa Rica, which echoed my experiences (and concerns) from my travel there.  Here’s Alice:

 

“The pigs stank when we got close. Six large ones, mottled cream and pink with enormous glistening snouts, lounged in the shed just down the path from my hotel room. “They’re our composting machines,” explains Andres Soley, the sustainability manger at Lapa Rios Ecolodge, which is perched on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. “They eat all our organic waste from the lodge restaurant and kitchen.”

After the pigs churn through a meal, their excrement is pumped into a nearby biodigester, which captures the methane it releases. It’s then burned as a fuel for cooking meals. The leftover excrement is used as rich liquid fertilizer for nearby water lilies and other native plants that fill the lodge grounds.

I had never seen a biodigester until arriving at Lapa Rios for a winter vacation with my family. I spent my first afternoon at the lodge on a two-hour sustainability tour (which is offered biweekly to guests), getting up close and personal with the whole process — pigs, poop, power, and all.

Making energy from food scraps is just the beginning at this ecolodge, one of 148 nationally certified sustainable hotels in the Central American country located between Panama and Nicaragua. “Costa Rica is one of the pioneers of sustainable tourism, dating back to the 1980s when visiting tropical biologists started to bring their friends and family along on field trips,” says Ronald Sanabria, the Rainforest Alliance’s vice president ofsustainable tourism. Ecotourism thrives in Costa Rica, Sanabria says, because of the country’s impressive biodiversity, proximity to North America, long history of political stability, and high literacy rate.

“Costa Rica is not all eco,” says Martha Honey, co-founder of theCenter for Responsible Travel and former executive director of The International Ecotourism Society. “But the ecotourism revolution in Costa Rica has been really profound. It … still remains the best example in the world of successful ecotourism.” Today, though, that record is threatened by the growth of international hotel chains and plans for another international airport, which could transform the Osa Peninsula and push out its eco-lodges.

Despite covering 0.01 percent of the world’s landmass, Costa Rica’s rainforests and coral reefs are home to close to 5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. The country boasts 500,000 (and counting) different plant and animal species. Roughly a third of the size of New York state, this small country has coasts on two oceans and six active volcanoes, creating many different microclimates, variable weather (sun and showers seem to swap places every few minutes), and a wide range of ecosystems.

In order to protect this ecological richness, Costa Rica’s government has preserved 26 percent of its land and 16 percent of its marine surface in 27 national parks, 11 wetland reserves, and two biosphere reserves. In 1997 Costa Rica’s Tourism Board (or ICT) established the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) to distinguish and guide businesses that “comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management,” according to the CST mission statement. The CST ranks businesses on a scale of 0 to 5 to reward pioneering ecolodges and encourage further interest in ecotourism.

In 2003 Lapa Rios was the first hotel to achieve CST’s top ranking, level 5. The lodge is nestled in a fecund rainforest canopy alive with the calls of the chestnut mandible toucan and scarlet macaw. It overlooks the meeting point of the Pacific Ocean and the Golfo Dulce, the Sweet Gulf. “The lodge supports local micro-businesses wherever possible,” says Soley, the sustainability manager. Locals use recycled or renewable materials, like the locally grown Suiita palm, to make everything from the reusable bamboo straws in the restaurant to the furniture in the lounge.

The food is also grown or sourced locally. Three quarters of all ingredients come from San Jose, cutting down on the amount of gas guzzled and emissions spewed by transporting food from other parts of the world. All guests make their dinner selections in the morning so that the kitchen can order exactly the right amount to minimize waste.

During the four days I stayed at Lapa Rios, I began to appreciate first-hand the rich, diverse beauty of our surroundings. I swam underneath a waterfall. I surfed at a volcanic black sand beach. I hiked through the rainforest, watched howler monkeys swing through the trees, and held a baby green iguana, thanks to one of Lapa Rios’ wildlife guides. But I had the most fun walking hand in hand with Sweetie, the matriarch spider monkey, meeting and feeding animals at the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary.

We finally had to board a tiny airplane and fly back to grungy, bustling San Jose. As we took off, I had a clear view of the landscape and coastline leading away from the small town of Puerto Jimenez. Just inland from the shimmering water and untouched beaches I could see an abrupt shift from wild primary forest to the monoculture of a palm plantation. I later discovered that the massive plantation grows African palm oil, which a few years ago replaced smaller banana farms.

Honey, with the Center for Responsible Travel, told me that a massive development boom began in Costa Rica in 2002, particularly along the Pacific coast in a region called Guanacaste, when a new airport established direct flights from that area to the United States. The period from 2002 to 2008 saw an explosion of vacation homes, high-rise condos, and about a hundred new all-inclusive resorts.

Giants like JW Marriott, Hilton, and Four Seasons now dominate Guanacaste’s tourism industry. These complexes flatten thousands of acres with manicured lawns, spa centers, and golf courses. The Marriott, an imposing 310-room hotel that features four restaurants, two bars, and Costa Rica’s largest swimming pool, also boasts 7,223 square feet of indoor meeting space for up to 500 people.

The top ecolodges are expensive (Lapas Rios will cost a couple $760 per night during the peak season), but the best traditional hotels are in the same ballpark (rates vary daily but run around $745 a night for an ocean-view room at the Marriott). For the country as a whole, though, sustainable tourism is the better deal, Honey says. “The research that we’ve done indicates that these internationally owned complexes are a far less valuable tourism model for the country, both for high value long-term employment and benefits to conservation.

The Costa Rican government has recently proposed building another international airport in the Osa Peninsula. If these plans go ahead, the region will likely go the way of Guanacaste, and Lapa Rios could find itself struggling to compete with giant cookie-cutter hotel complexes. If that happens, the eco-lodge experience I enjoyed could become a thing of the past, along with the lush wild rainforest and fascinating local culture it nurtures.”

You can read the full article at http://www.onearth.org/article/can-ecotourism-survive-in-costa-rica

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Eco-tourism the major source of travel dollars in Borneo

November 12, 2010
A White-chested Babbler (Trichastoma rostratum...
Image via Wikipedia

ECO-tourism is the main attraction for visitors in Sarawak, says Tourism and Heritage Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

He said that, up to June this year, the national parks in the state recorded 191,824 visitors of whom 46,345 were foreigners.

“Among the popular destinations are the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which attracted 40,305 visitors, Bako National Park (16,723 visitors), Niah National Park (12,543 visitors) and Mulu National Park (10,786 visitors),” he told the State Assembly in his winding up speech yesterday.

Dr Chan said his ministry had also received 24 requests from villages and longhouses in the state to register for the homestay programme.

“To date, 2,984 homestay operators from 139 villages, including 19 villages in Sarawak, have been trained and registered throughout the country by the Tourism Ministry.”

Jogyakarta and Sabah get into eco-tourism

August 6, 2010
Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia.
Image via Wikipedia

Jogyakarta and Sabah can combine their almost similar eco-tourism products and promote them as one tourism package.

Head of Tourism Department of Yogyakarta, Tazbir Abdullah, said Jogyakarta has volcanoes and Sabah has ‘sleeping’ Mount Kinabalu.

“We can package them for tourists keen to visit mountains. Also, we can promote the beaches,” he told journalists from Sabah here Thursday.

He hoped to put forward the proposal at international tourism forums, especially between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Tazbir said although it was difficult to introduce direct flights between Jogyakarta and Kota Kinablu, there were some airliners who were interested.

“We can discuss with them, there are no problems.

“Currently, the problem is with Adisucipto international airport. It might not be able to handle the increase in flights as the runway is small,” he said.

The airport handles direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

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South Africa an eco-friendly travel destination

February 12, 2010
Fynbos
Image via Wikipedia

Thinking about a trip to South Africa? One travel expert has commented that the country is one of the best for its drive towards eco-tourism, something that could please people intending to visit the region.

Jeremy Smith, author for Rough Guides, described the way South Africa has embraced eco-tourism as “amazing”.

“When they do it well, they do amazing engagement there, you really connect with South Africa and meet the communities,” he explained.

Mr Smith pointed out that exploring off the beaten track is the best way to truly discover the spirit of a country and have memorable experiences while travelling.

He added that eco-tourism does not need to be expensive, noting that opting for a home stay rather than a hotel is just one cheap way that holidaymakers can give something back to the community.

According to a report released by the Co-Operative Bank in December, spending on eco-travel has increased nine-fold since 1999, reaching £1.7 billion in 2008.

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Australia’s Great South Coast Penguins to be conserved

January 4, 2010

A PROPOSAL to allow guided tours to the the penguin colony at London Bridge, between Peterborough and Port Campbell, has alarmed local wildlife conservationists.

They claim the beach is too dangerous and further interference with the birds could harm their sustainability.

Parks Victoria will outline the plan to invited stakeholders at a meeting in Colac on January 12.

The meeting was called to discuss environmental risks associated with the coastal area.

Peterborough wildlife carer Annie Fraser has snubbed the invitation and will boycott the meeting that she descibed as offensive and insulting.

“It is dishonest and unfair that other people of the local area are not given an opportunity to speak up,” the long-time wildlife shelter volunteer said in a letter to Parks Victoria .

“I want no part of your so-called workshop which has obviously been conjured up to appease a few locals at a venue completely unrelated and at a time completely impossible for most persons to attend.

“The fact that this is an area of ‘special protection’ points to the complete disregard of Parks Victoria for anything we may hold dear as Victorians.”

According to the meeting agenda the main aims are to identify environmental hazards, priority risks for management and incorporate the views of stakeholders.

Another local conservationist said the proposed beach tours were not necessary because the evening penguin procession could be seen adequately from a clifftop viewing platform about 50 metres from the colony of fairy penguins at London Bridge.

The idea for guided tours down the steep steps was put forward about five years ago by Bridgewater eco-tours operator Joe Austin.

Mr Austin told The Standard yesterday he had not been invited to the meeting and expected that if Parks Victoria approved the concept it would be put out to public tender.

“This has been dragging on and on,” he said.

“We had a meeting on the beach with Parks Victoria two or three years ago and we met department chiefs in Melbourne in late 2008.”

Mr Austin said his proposal was to have the steps upgraded and have a lockable trapdoor built for access to the beach.

“A qualified guide would accompany a small group of people down to the beach, who would sit quietly on the beach to watch the penguins waddle past back to their burrows at night,” he said.

“Availability would be seasonal, depending on the ocean conditions,” he told The Standard.

“Guided penguin tours would encourage more tourists to stay overnight in the area.”

Mr Austin said it used to be quite common several decades ago for local residents and tourists to climb down to the beach and watch the evening penguin procession.

“The only reason why they stopped it was because of foxes and silly idiots who used to poke sticks down the burrows,” he said.

Mr Austin holds qualifications in eco-tourism and has been running his Seals by the Sea tour business at Cape Bridgewater for 12 years.

Mrs Fraser said the London Bridge beach was dangerous and had unpredictable tides.

“Where is the public consultation,” Mrs Fraser asked yesterday.

“Why is there not a public meeting?”

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