Pamela Lanier heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and Ecogo.org. She presented eco-lodging best practices at a recent industry conference, hosted by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). We report her news and findings below.
Conference that educates
The 10th Annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), held in Quito, Ecuador last week, was a resounding success. Some 500 delegates attended from 30 participating countries, and shared industry practices and achievements in sustainable tourism.
Educational sessions led by noted speakers in the field focused on sustainable destinations and community empowerment; biodiversity conservation; and ecotourism and sustainable tourism guidelines, certifications and development strategies.
Ecotourism conference insights
Ecotourism is a popular consumer option. Demand is growing quickly, economic gains are real, and ecosystems get preserved. Here are several insights from the conference.
- Top growing ecotourism sector: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) pointed out that ecotourism is the number one growing sector of travel and truly represents the future of tourism because “we will have to visit nature as a museum if we don’t take care of it now.”
- Improved economic returns: Irene Lane of Greenloons presented the results of a study which highlighted the improved ROI of Irish ecotourism participants on The Wild Atlantic Way, after all economic factors were considered including (and beyond) direct operational expenses.
- Namibia’s impressive conservation: Another presentation highlighted Namibia’s phenomenal economic and environmental resurgence. Driven by community conservancies, some 44 percent of the land is now under conservation management — and the populations of lions and zebra have surged.
Ecuador gets just rewards
At the conference, Ecuador was recognized for its achievements. The country has long been regarded as a green growth leader, partnering with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to create standards for sustainable travel. GSTC Chairman Luigi Cabrini conferred the mark of “Recognition” on Ecuador, which fully adheres to universal standards. He presented a plaque to Sandra Naranjo, Ecuador’s tourism minister.
Ecuador had already become the first country in the world to solidify the Rights of Nature. In 2008, its Constitution recognized the inalienable rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish — giving people the authority to petition on the behalf of ecosystems and requiring the government to remedy violations of these rights.
Extra perks for attendees
When in Ecuador, appreciate Ecuador! Conference delegates raved about the fantastic, healthy farm-to-table cuisine presented by local college and culinary academy students along with top chefs. The cocoa grower associations also provided 12 distinctly different chocolate bars for an extensive, interpretive tasting.
For the adventurous, Napo Wildlife Center led a high altitude trip to observe avian and other wildlife in the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. This park covers 1,430 square miles, including Volcán Cayambe and ten ecological zones.