Initially I was going to write about Tegu the block company, but while scrolling through the Global Issues in Context page another theme caught my eye: ecotourism. I’m passionate about travel especially backpacking (I spent 3 weeks in the wilderness of the High Sierra’s this past summer). Also, two summers ago a friend and I traveled around Costa Rica which is renowned for its wildlife and ecotourism offerings. We visited a couple famous cloud rain forests and national parks. The trip was fun but all I saw was a dolphin, a couple hummingbirds, handful of red frogs and a sloth. This made me wonder if ecotourism actually does a good job at preserving the nature or indigenous cultures that travelers flock to see? There have been news stories of tourist companies hurting the environment and exploiting indigenous groups for profit.
Also, I wonder if there is any oversight or standards boards for labeling a tour provider as environmentally friendly. There are a number of companies that conduct these types of tours, but for now I’m going to research National Geographic Expeditions. I picked them because of the name recognition and it was listed as a Top 10 Environmentally Friendly Travel Company. If another company later presents itself as a better fit than switching won’t require much work. I know this is a little backward of a method since this week we’re supposed to pick the company. However, there are a lot of similar players in the industry so I want to first understand the dynamics at play in ecotourism.
Links (Primarily for my own reference):
Top 10 Environmentally Friendly Travel Companies: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/926704/top_10environmentally_friendly_travel_companies.html
National Geographic Expeditions site: http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/
Article about conflict between ecotourist groups and the Maasai in Kenya: http://find.galegroup.com/gic/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=DateDescend&docType=GREF&tabID=T006&prodId=GIC&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchId=R2&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=2&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2CUS%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28PI%2CNone%2C5%29G1454%24&inPS=true&userGroupName=bucknell_it&docId=CP3208511098&contentSet=GREF&docId=A171584450&docType=IAC&c=FT