Posted tagged ‘travel’

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


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.


EcoTourism comes to Nebraska.

March 14, 2012

An estimated 70,000 bird watchers descend on central Nebraska each spring to gaze at the gathering of 500,000 sandhill cranes along the Platte in the Kearney and Grand Island areas.

The graceful birds feed in local cornfields, dance and hop in mating rituals and roost in the river as they build strength for the migration to summer breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

But almost 40 percent of visitors, according to a recent poll, say they would stay longer in Nebraska and visit other attractions. Right now, crane visitors spend an average of 1.3 days in the state and spend a total of about $8 million, which is why the Governor of Nebraska is convinced that bringing Eco-Tourism to Nebraska, of all places, could mean bigger dollars for the state.

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Bird - Duck - Mallard (Photo credit: blmiers2)


Ecotourism is Good For Sharks, it turns out

March 14, 2012

New studies investigating the impact of ecotourism activities that use food to attract wildlife for observers has discovered that the booming business does not appear to have a negative effect on those creatures.

According to a CBC News report, the researchers set out to explore the issue by tagging two groups of tiger sharks — one off the coast of Florida, where the use of chum to attract the sharks is illegal, and one in the Bahamas, where the practice is permitted.

They had hypothesized that the Bahamas group would show less shark activity around dive sites than the other group, but in actuality the opposite was true — tiger sharks there roamed over an 8,500 square kilometer area, nearly five times greater than the range of the Florida-based group, according to the CBC.

English: tiger shark bahamas

Image via Wikipedia

In fact, researchers at the University of Miami’s (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science have discovered that the opposite may very well be true — ecotourism may be good for the creatures that are becoming so highly sought after by would-be onlookers.

Their findings — which a UM press release refers to as ” the first satellite tagging study to examine the long-term and long range movement patterns of tiger sharks (the largest apex predator in tropical waters) in response to dive tourism” –  have been published in Functional Ecology, the journal of the British Ecological Society.

Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, one of five UM experts involved in the study, told OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer Andrea Mustain that the Florida tiger sharks moved a maximum of 1,000 kilometers from their tagging site, while the Bahamas based ones “moved massive distances…[the tagging area] was important, but they didn’t rely on it.”

Hammerschlag, colleagues Jerald S. Ault and Jiangang Luo, and graduate students Austin Gallagher and Julia Wester, attached satellite tags to the dorsal fins of 11 tiger sharks in Florida and 10 in the Bahamas, following each for a span of six to twelve months, Mustain said. Their work has lead Hammerschlag to conclude that ecotourism, when done properly, might not be harmful to sharks (and other creatures) after all.

“Given the economic and conservation benefits we believe managers should not prevent shark diving tourism out of hand until sufficient data were to demonstrate otherwise,” he said in a statement Friday.

Source: redOrbit (

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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.)


Vote for the Ecotourism Spotlight Award!

June 9, 2010
World Tourism Day is September 27
Image by planeta via Flickr

Government websites that engage locals and visitors about ecotourism, responsible travel and the local travel movement are eligible to win’s annual Ecotourism Spotlight Award.

The winner is announced in celebration of World Tourism Day (September 27) to spotlight best practices from government institutions. Nominations are accepted June 10-July 30, 2010. Voting takes place in August 2010.

The Ecotourism Spotlight Award creates incentives for communication, opportunities for conversation and a reward for participation among government leaders. Nominees receive international exposure and winners claim bragging rights!

“Locals and visitors are seeking ways to interact via ecotourism experiences,” said founder Ron Mader. “The Ecotourism Spotlight Award nudges government leaders toward creative and innovative ways that engage locals and visitors and inspire us all.”

Nominees include environmental, tourism and other government portals in three categories: local, national and international institutions. We will also consider private-public partnerships — websites funded by governments.

“It takes some time for awards to be recognized among likely candidates and the interested public,” Mader said. “Competition continues to grow as many government sites have spent considerable time and resources improving their online web presence.”

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