Making sense of Sustainable Tourism & Ecotourism [1]

Logo_Sustainable-Tourism_2 As I continue to blog and share my own thoughts and compelling findings of others that I find relevant, it’s always a pleasant surprise to stubmle upon new ideas and new perspectives of looking at the same challenges in a different light. Like this piece on Sustainable Tourism and how it relates to Luxury Tourism I found in Eco Chic Hotels.

As more regions and countries develop their tourism industries, to reflect the growing rate of tourism, major changes are being made to natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The changes to the environment and social inequities can be reduced through Sustainable Tourism, which describes the planning and management process of tourism development within the world’s delicate ecology. It involves strategic long-term thinking and planning, and includes the interests of all stakeholders including indigenous people and local communities.

In the early days of ‘greening’, many major hotel groups developed environmental policies which attracted good publicity and established sound practices. However many individual hotels, and to some degree entire countries, do not have structured sustainable development policies and run the risk of doing permanent damage to the environment and socio-cultural elements.

Rachel Dodds of Sustainable Tourism agrees. “Whilst tourism can help develop natural and cultural heritage through restoration and preservation of destinations, it can also result in damage to vulnerable ecological and cultural features – including overuse and deterioration of resources, overdevelopment of facilities, visitor congestion, and reduced quality of life for locals.”

“Countries new to tourism are particularly vulnerable to poor planning, and can often destroy the very aspects that attract tourists. Examples include building too close to the beach, destroying the old quarters of a city to erect modern buildings, or not paying heed to the local community. This can permanently destroy aspects which not only preserve the environment and heritage but also provide visitor appeal,” she continued.

On a positive note, the industry is moving towards regulation. According to Paul White, Vice-President Operations for luxury hotel group Orient-Express Hotels, hotels in South America are now required to confirm to established industry standards. “We have seen this growing trend for the past two years, and predict that it will grow into an international reference of quality management and environmental management,” said Paul White.

“I also strongly believe that ensuring that countries maximise income (in hard currency) and then address its distribution is the key to long term sustainable tourism. We call it the ‘trickle down’ effect,” he continued.

In addition, programmes undertaken by the International Hotels Environment Initiative (IHEI), which encourages the continuous improvement of environmental performance by the hotel industry worldwide, have done much to advance the industry’s awareness of sound sustainable tourism principles. They have developed a number of manuals and a quarterly magazine ‘Green Hotelier’ that highlights environmental tips and best practices.

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Quotes + Thoughts | Technology vs. Ecology


“Modern technology owes ecology an apology.”

~ Alan M. Eddison

Inspiration: Zazzle

Posted in Earth Matters, Eco Matters, Global Warming, Quotes & Thoughts, Sustainability, Sustainable Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Making sense of Sustainable Tourism & Ecotourism [2]

Logo_Sustainable-Tourism_5 As I continue to blog and share my own thoughts and compelling findings of others that I find relevant, it’s always a pleasant surprise to stubmle upon new ideas and new perspectives of looking at the same challenges in a different light. Like this piece on Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism that appeared in Mozaik Branding Blog of Athens, Greece.

Ecotourism is an alternative form of tourism whose sole purpose is holiday activities and the core element of this type of tourism is natural-based.

The basic intention of this type of tourism is to raise awareness amongst travellers about the natural setting or place that they visit for and at the same time minimize any corrosive (in terms of negative impact on environment) impact of the human activity.

The idea of Ecotourism was raised and evolved during the 80s where the necessity for environmental care became more imperative, in order to protect the natural habitat from human intervention for the future generations.

The main characteristics of Ecotourism, concern mainly destinations where the cultural and environmental heritage are in abundance, in certain parts of our planet. The increasing demand for alternative types of tourism, such as Ecotourism, make countries (like Greece) more popular as destinations.

According to Responsible Travel, there’s a constantly rising need from consumers for Ecotourism.

  • 96% of Condé Nast Traveler readers think hotels and resorts should be responsible for protecting the environment they operate in.
  • 74.5% says that a hotel’s environmental policies can influence their decision to stay there.
  • In 2005, an analysis found that more than 2/3 of US and Australian travelers and 90% of UK tourists believe that within the hotel’s responsibility should be considered the active protection of the environment and the support of local communities.
  • 46 % of the German’s think ‘it is an added value to stay in an environmentally friendly accommodation
  • 80 % of the Dutch want information on ethical issues in their travel information.

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Posted in Ecotourism, France, Greece, Green Travel, Responsible Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Making sense of Sustainable Tourism & Ecotourism [3]

Logo_Sustainable-Tourism_4As I continue to blog and share my own thoughts and compelling findings of others that I find relevant, it’s always a pleasant surprise to stubmle upon new ideas and new perspectives of looking at the same challenges in a different light. Like this piece on Ecotourism and what exactly constitutes it, from Cool Heads for a Hot Planet blog

As you can likely imagine, several tourism related activities have a largely negative impact on the environment, and with growing interest in travel, it is crucial that they be mitigated. Tourism is one of the main sectors of the world economy bringing in 11% of gross domestic product and growing at 4% annually. Because tourism is a huge contributor to the global economy, ecotourism acts as a market-linked long-term solution. Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” (The International Ecotourism Society, 1990). In 2004 ecotourism grew globally 3 times faster than the tourism industry.


Palawan Island and environs. Photo: Catha, Let’s Visit Asia

Ecotourism is a draw because it presents people with a more stimulating experience. Nowadays, many are looking for a vacation that is not just relaxing but rewarding as well. Visitors can explore unique natural areas, allowing them to gain respect for the environment and the beauty of places threatened by climate change. Ecotourism tends to educate travellers about their surroundings, which raises awareness and funds that often contribute to the preservation or conservation of areas at risk. As you can see, ecotourism uses a variety of means to mitigate the effects of climate change. The general principles are as follows:

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.

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Quotes + Thoughts | On Sustainability [2]


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.”

~ Chinese Proverb

Inspiration: Mother Earth’s News

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Quotes + Thoughts | On Sustainability [1]


“The principles of sustainable development say that we should live within environmental limits and that we should enjoy and aspire to a healthy, just, and fair society.”

~ Willy Day, SDC (Sustainable Development Commission) Chair, UK

Inspiration: Sustainable Development in Government

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The resurrection of shipping containers


A novel concept of mini mobile pop-up hotel that doesn’t skimp on design and comfort sensitivities, and gives guests the peace of mind that they have participated in an eco-friendly leisure activity. Photo: Frederik Herregods


Dockside, Antwerp Port, Belgium. Photo: Frederik Herregods

Logo_Sleeping-Around_Pop-Up-Container-Hotel_www.sleepingaround.euindex.asp-taal=en_dian-hasan-branding_BE-1I found the Sleeping Around Pop-Up mobile hotel (please see my previous post) so fascinating and decided to dig a bit further, and found a relevant article in Design Boom on the background of its inception. I’ve seen a few similar concepts, based on using (or re-using) shipping containers as hotels, and other types of building functions, so it’s nice to see the Sleeping Around concept that marries green philosophy and low environmental impact.

A team of Belgian entrepreneurs: Geoffrey Stampaert, Didier Opdebeeck, and Ellen Wezenbeek decided to elevate the status of shipping containers from a 1950’s stock steel crate, to a viable structural framework for architectural programs. mr.stampaert, also a restaurateur in addition to an experienced hotelier, is expanding the ideas of luxury, design, adventure, and comfort with ‘sleeping around’, a pop-up hotel the travels the globe according to user-input demand. ‘pop-up’ as a concept has long been applied to a range of events, exhibits and the like and denotes the temporary presence of a relevant, usually cultural, showcase. the fleeting nature of ‘pop-up’ phenomena often calls to mind exclusive, often surprising, specialized concept structures.

Sleeping Around uses these qualities to offer a range of traveling experiences that employ an effective supply-and-demand model; the shipping containers can take refuge in the countryside or thrive in a stimulating city center. the crux of the business model is that visitors can request a site with something that static architecture may not be able to offer– namely, unique views or fantastic hidden locales. the hotel, for example, has spent some weeks on the banks of the scheldt in antwerp with a view of st anna’s beach, and is now on the move. in the five months it has been open, ‘sleeping around’ hotel has traveled to three locations and successfully accommodated over one hundred visitors. travelers can check back periodically to see if the hotel has moved to an area of interest and enter the location into a GPS device to find it. Sleeping Around hotel can be set up and fully functional within 5 hours of arriving at a location.


The raw material. Before the transformation. Photo: Frederik Herregods


The transformation takes place. From a functional shipping containers void of soul into… Photo: Frederik Herregods


It takes a good amount of work to convert the ugly box into a mobile hotel room. Photo: Frederik Herregods


Hoisting the “ready product” into place. Location: Dockside, Antwerp Port, Belgium. Photo: Frederik Herregods

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Happy Thanksgiving! Be thankful, be joyful, and remember those who are less fortunate

My dear readers,

As the year winds down, Jack O’ Lanterns are done greeting trick or treating juvenile posses, green leaves decide to join the carnival and burst into a riot of amber-hued pageantry, and Christmas shopping lists get longer… the fourth Thursday of November is before us and Thanksgiving is here.

It may be a quintessential American tradition, but for me the significance is universal. Set aside one day in a year where all people regardless of race, color, creed, or social status, gather around for a feast with their family and friends and give thanks. What are YOU thankful about?

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

~ Melody Beattie, Author

  • I’m thankful for plenty of things. Among others, for my wife’s successful surgery; and speedy recovery; for our eldest son doing well in college and for choosing the right path in his proverbial “fork in the road of his academic life”; for our youngest son’s early acceptance at a prestigious college on the East Coast. I’m of course thankful for turning 50 with my sanity in tact; but most of all for the rare opportunity of having all my four parents (who flew in from afar), both sons (and my eldest’s  girlfriend), and believed close friends by my side… helping me celebrate my half a century walking the earth and still acting like a 12 year old!
  • I’m thankful for all my guardian angels for their incessant hard work and overtime (my brother-in-law always reminds me that mine do, and his are therefore working part time!); I’m thankful for my parter-in-crime and best friend for never ceasing to teach me the values of compassion with her random act of kindness of helping friends and often practical strangers.
  • I’m thankful for the big mouth, social skills, talents, and decent confidence I am blessed with in seeking new businesses and working with great clients who keep my solution searching and brand building skills in overdrive; I’m thankful for all the business partners, and colleagues who make all work possible. And of course I’m thankful to you, my dear readers, for welcoming me into your world, giving me the attention and the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge.
  • And finally I thank God for giving me good health, an indescribable family, a sane mind, and steady fingers to type this message and keep all my blogs alive.

PS: I searched for Thanksgiving messages that had a decidedly modern design, and found the ones you see on this page. I particularly like Google’s Thanksgiving banner this year.

Inspiration: Inspired Every Moment; Cinnamon Hollow; I am a reader, not a writer; 365 Give; Simple as That

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What is poverty, really?

This story was first published in Anthropelago Blog, where the author, Max Hasan, who was on a short stint in Jakarta, Indonesia, working with Habitat for Humanity, pondered the question of what really defines poverty?. I felt it was appropriate to share it here.

The other day, my colleague and I were arguing about the definition of poverty. He claimed that:

“poverty alleviation is an oxymoron. One cannot alleviate poverty simply due to its very nature; poverty is a relativistic concept, thus someone always exists who is going to be comparatively less well-off or impoverished due to the way our economy and society are structured. For example a millionaire could be considered wealthy today, but what about in a hundred years? Will his million dollars still hold the same worth due to factors such as inflation and changes in social values?”

A wooden shack in Mauk. Photo: Max Hasan

At first, this claim struck and resonated with me. He seemed to be correct. If we take poverty as a relative term, then sure, there will always be a group of people who are perpetually “impoverished”it all depends on context. However, after much thought and observation, I came to the conclusion that “poverty” is a static and concrete idea, rather than a relative and forever shifting definition. Yes, there can be those who are “poorer” or “less better off,” but poverty strictly describes “those who don’t have the means to attain the most basic human necessities.” Though this definition may seem vague and too far-reaching, that’s precisely what poverty itself is.

Poverty is like a virus or a plague, as it exists, multiplies, and destroys. Furthering the similarities, it is preventable and can be uprooted indefinitely; it’s not something that has to exist.

Several small boys in Cikangkung entertaining themselves with none other than… a live bat. Photo: Max Hasan

Throughout my travels in Indonesia, my conception of poverty, the poor, and who embodies these ideas has changed drastically. On Thursday, June 28, 2012, I embarked on several field surveys within Jakarta Greater Metro Area. These surveys were paramount to my changes in poverty perception. Below, are my notes and observations from the field.

My colleagues invited me on a series of field surveys today. My eyes and heart were opened to the lives of these extremely simple and impoverished people who, despite having no material or financial assets, are still rich. They are rich in life, love, happiness—and all other aspects that truly matter in composing a wholesome and fulfilled life. Though only a couple of hours away from the smog-choked metropolis of Jakarta, these villagers were worlds apart from any city rat.

9:30 AM Cikangkung – Several homes and seven public water facilities were built by Habitat. In January, the area was ravaged by a flood with waters as high as 1.5 meters (5 feet). Homes and public water facilities were built as disaster relief products and thus donated pro bono. There were about 100 families living in the village, several of which had leprosy as a result of bad sanitation and irrigation. Prior to Habitat building these water facilities, villagers had to walk an absurd distance to use a brown, garbage-filled stream for all purposes (washing clothes, bathing, toilet, washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.). Upon leaving the area we saw mostly naked village boys playing with what at first we thought was a squeaky doll, but upon closer observation, it turned out to be a live fruit bat, screeching and flailing while the village boys laughed hysterically.

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Posted in Eco Matters, Humanitarian, Indonesia, Inequality, Micro Loans & Micro Financing, Poverty Eradication & Alleviation, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ecotourism defined

Ecotourism: Responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare o local people (TIES, The International Ecotourism Society)

Inspiration: University of Michigan: Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Posted in Earth Matters, Eco Matters, Eco-Responsible, Ecotourism, Endangered Species, Energy Conservation, Ethical Tourism, Green, Green Travel, Responsible Tourism, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Tourism | Tagged , | Leave a comment