Category Archives: tourism product

Can Ecotourism be Mainstream?

By Stacey Hunter, BC Hughes Tourism Consulting

When searching for vacation ideas, type in the word ‘Eco’ and see what Google yields. I, like most travellers had never really looked deep into what exactly “ecotourism” meant and always had my own perceptions. When staying at hotels I always reuse my towels and “recycle” the shampoo and soap containers by bringing them home with me. I had always just assumed that this is what ecotourism was and that I could call myself an eco-tourist.  When I read about resorts being eco-resorts, I always just assumed it meant you slept in the mud, used candlelight and ate organic. Little did I know mainstream ecotourism meant something much more.

After doing some research I found out that ecotourism is a type of travel that:

  • takes place in natural areas where people don’t usually visit,
  • has minimal impact to the area, and
  • builds awareness of the species and locals to that area.

In return your travel to an eco-destination financially assists in the protection of that destination.  By being an eco-tourist you must be ecologically and environmentally aware of the places you visit.

It all sounds prudish, and likely has you thinking “but I’d much rather my 4 star accommodation in Vegas”. Travelling ecotourism style doesn’t mean giving up luxury and pina colada’s by the pool.  There is a relatively new ecotourism philosophy taking hold in the mainstream tourism industry.  Take Misool Eco Resort in Indonesia for example.  Missool is a luxury dive resort that offers enriching experiences that benefit and sustain the landscape and community surrounding them.  Some examples of what Miscol Eco Resort does in order to be an Eco Resort:

  •  Hiring locals as staff
  • Assisting the community with sponsorships or donations
  • Using recycled material to construct the building(s)
  • Educating visitors about the land and species around the destination
  • Minimizing the consumption of fossil fuels the destination uses (for example using wind turbines and solar power)
  • Minimizing waste by composting, recycling, avoiding pesticides and asking guests to pack environmentally responsibly (for example avoiding packing plastic bags, bottles etc.)

Researching eco-tourism made me wonder why we still travel any other way?

Why not take an exciting vacation all while becoming enlightened about your destination and positively impacting the area you are visiting. If I can go on a trip that is not only enjoyable but is socially and environmentally responsible then why wouldn’t I?

You don’t have to take an eco-safari in Africa to become an eco-tourist. Many would be surprised to know even here in Ontario we have eco-resort opportunities.  Elk Lake Eco centre in Elk Lake enlightens guests within the magnificent Boreal Forest, while placing tremendous effort on serving local foods. Cedar Meadow Resort & Spa in Timmins offers a luxurious experience and wildlife tours right from the doorstep of their resort.   Northern Edge Algonquin offers retreats and adventures at their “oasis from this hyperconnected world”, a sustainable and environmentally sound resort.

If resort owners make the effort to make a difference, we at least owe it to them to given them the consideration when planning our next vacation.

Stacey Hunter is a tourism researcher with BC Hughes Tourism Consulting and has traveled to 16 countries around the world, with the goal to become enriched through experiencing local cultures.

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Filed under ontario tourism, tourism, tourism product, Travel

Why is Mexico so fun? (by our junior blogger age 7)

Once we flew to Mexico, then we drove to our hotel in Cozumel. The water park was awesome there! I liked when the people who cleaned made animals out of towels. Sometimes they used our stuffed animals too! I also liked when we went on a snorkeling trip.  The boat went up and down. (PS I felt sea-sick.) I liked that when you ate if you wanted to you could sit on swings while you ate. There were pesos instead of dollars. Every day there was a kid’s activity. The kid’s activities were fun. For example there was a kid’s activity called bowling.  That’s why Mexico is so much fun!

Written by: Our Junior Blogger age 7

Tourism Interpretation by our Senior Blogger:

  • “The water park was awesome…” – Capital investing in activities for families pay off the long run.
  • “I liked when the people who cleaned made animals out of towels.” – exceed you guests customer service expectations and you will be rewarded.
  • “The kid’s activities were fun.” – Giving guests lots to do enhances and often extends their stay.
  • “I also liked when we went on a snorkeling trip…” – Off resort activities entertain guests when they’ve exhausted all there is to do on-site, and ultimately extend stays.
  • “I liked that while you ate you could sit on swings…” – Think outside the box!
  • “That is why Mexico is so much fun!” – Fun for the whole family!

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Filed under Best Practices, destination development, tourism, Tourism Development, tourism product, Uncategorized