My hotel – the Inn at Laurel Point – had dead people helping manage it. I’d heard Victoria was a great place for the newly wed and nearly dead. But I hadn’t heard read more
2017 is the International year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Yeah, me! After all I wrote the book on sustainable tourism development (Sustainable Tourism: Development, Operations, and Management released by Human Kinetics 2015) so I should be clicking my heels over the United Nations declaration.
But not so fast. Air travel is a large source of carbon emissions and travel by plane is growing faster than improvements in emission reductions. So the more we travel, the more greenhouse gases are created.
So what to do? Stay home as some conservationists have suggested? I think many people love to travel or need to travel to see family and friends so this option isn’t likely to work.
I think as travellers we need to harness our spending on travel for the greater good. After all, more than a billion people are now travelling. The money they spend generates jobs and development done properly can lift people out of poverty.
When I plan trip activities I look for small, well-run businesses often through personal recommendations or through an association (two of my favorites are Adventure Travel Trade Association http://www.adventuretravel.biz/about/atta-members/ and The International Ecotourism Society http://www.ecotourism.org ).
Where possible I pick destinations closer to home so I’m not flying as far or at all. Some of my best trips in recent years were ones where I drove or took a bus. The sharing economy doesn’t just reduce costs it reduces emissions!
And it may be boring, but I read the rules for the parks I visit. If a billion of us are roaming around, it behooves us to act appropriately and if you’re new in town, you don’t always realize what is appropriate. I have a birdfeeder at home but when I visit a national park, it’s not okay to feed the birds.
So will the year of sustainable tourism for development cause you to travel differently?
Save money, uplift your spirits by adding a retreat to your travel plans
Have you ever thought of adding a retreat to a trip to save money while upping your emotional return?
Religious retreat centers may not be in the hospitality business but they know about service and many welcome visitors looking for a different kind of getaway.
I recently made a day trip to the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta for an artists’ retreat and discovered that a retreat can stretch your vacation dollars while offering renewal. Read more.
Happy Valentines Day!
Sending love and light your way.
Is the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development reason to celebrate? Click to Tweet.
2017 – The International year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. How it impacts you: Click to Tweet.
(story by Carol Patterson originally printed in Red Deer Advocate Saturday February 7, 2015)
Costa Rica’s 111-kilometer long Tarcoles River is one of the most polluted water bodies in Latin America. Plastic and paper litters the brown water’s edge and is embedded in the muddy banks.
When seasonal floodwaters recede, ribbons of trash demarcate high water points. Sewage from interior cities and towns drains into the river. It is a horrible place to swim.
But if you are a crocodile the warm, nutrient-rich water are a feeding bonanza. Dozens of American crocodiles line the riverbanks sunbathing in statue-like stillness. Others ply the water for a meal, their nostrils and unblinking eyes the only hint of the killing machine below. With an estimated 25 crocodiles per square kilometer, the river has one of the highest croc populations in the world.
Most people would not see Tarcoles River as a potential tourism attraction, but where others saw lemons, one man saw an opportunity for lemonade.
Dr. Mario F. Orjuela, a veterinarian from Columbia who specialized in crocodiles, iguanas, snakes and toads, was struck by the area’s richness on his first visit in 1993.
“While undertaking survey expeditions and night excursions, I began thinking of a way to show this hidden treasure to visitors, to let them know in an educative way about the fascinating creatures and the ecosystem of this tropical paradise. And so the ‘Jungle Crocodile Safari’ was born,” he once said.
Orjuela died several years ago – a victim of crime, not crocodiles- but his company lives on.
Over 6,000 people come from around the world each year to see these muscular river juggernauts. Two-hour tours on covered boats with open sides allow unobstructed views of 100- plus bird species and the main event, crocodile feeding.
Staff member, Willie, greeted our group and explained the challenges of co-existing with reptiles that bite is fifty times stronger than a humans, “There are two words to describe crocodiles – prehistoric and unpredictable.”
So it was with some anxiety that I watched our guide, Andrey sidle our boat up next to a very big croc and cut the engine. “This is Tyson,” Andrey said, pulling the croc’s tail into the boat and pointing out where National Geographic researchers had made a notch, “he’s the biggest crocodile on the river and named after Mike Tyson, the fighter.”
Tyson didn’t seem to mind the tail handling and lay with an unblinking stare that could mean either ‘I’m full’ or “you look like my next meal”. Andrey left the safety of the boat and stepped into the chocolate-colored mud a meter from Tyson’s head with a kilogram of raw chicken in his hand.
Realizing a bad day on my job was never as grim as a good day for a crocodile guide, Andrey proceeded to swat 300 kilograms of wild crocodile on the nose with raw meat.
Crocodiles are capable of great speed bursts and I wondered how Andrey knew if the croc would be satisfied with the chicken or go for the whole enchilada.
Tyson didn’t appear interested in the free meal so Andrey readjusted his position, moving slowly to avoid losing his footing on the slippery bank, before hitting the croc harder. Tyson’s jaws opened, shutters clicked in rapid staccato, and the chicken disappeared.
Andrey jumped back in the boat.
“Is this a well-paying job?” I asked, thinking the risk of losing a limb would be well compensated, but apparently not.
“If I want to support a family, I will need to get another job,’ he replied.
However Andrey’s efforts have their own rewards. Since the tours started, crocodiles kill fewer fishermen. Willie said, “We try to feed the crocodiles up river and away from the mouth of the river where the fishermen are. And we have removed 10,000 tires from the river. It is the cleanest it has ever been.”
While Tarcoles River still looked polluted to me, the signs advertising crocodile tours scattered through Tarcoles town indicated Dr. Orjuela’s vision had been realized. Visitors are seeing the biotic richness of the Tarcoles River and locals are seeing richness from crocodiles and the tourism dollars they bring.
If you decide to go:
Jungle Crocodile Safaris offers tours four times a day in nine boats. http://www.junglecrocodilesafari.com/index.php
Accommodations in Tarcoles town are limited. Consider staying in the resort town of Jaco 17 kilometers away. http://www.visitjacocostarica.com
To see my video on crocodile tourism go to http://bit.ly/1DoiI6A
Most people have heard of Charles Darwin but few know about Charles Waterton who played an important role in Darwin’s life. Waterton seems to have been forgotten by history but he created the first nature preserve, invented the artificial bird nest box and wrote a book that contributed to Charles Darwin’s decision to switch from medicine to natural history. I wanted to know whether Waterton’s conservation philosophies were still valid 150 years after his death; the answers are in this BBC story (spoiler alert: they are!).
After three long years and countless hours behind the computer, my new book Sustainable Tourism has been released! With a gestation period longer than an elephant’s, there were days I didn’t think it would happen but thanks to my publisher Human Kinetics, twenty years of my tourism knowledge (or much of it) has been captured in this book, videos and images. I hope you like it! You can order a copy at
Discover how the new book, Sustainable Tourism, can help you launch the business of your dreams: Click to Tweet.