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A dikdik, one of the smallest and most graceful antelopes.

Welcome to Eco Wild!

In this issue:

1. What is ecotourism?
2. The four R's of ecotourism
3. Did you know that...?

1. What is ecotourism?

In last week's issue of Eco Wild, I defined ecotourism. I received many emails concerning this definition of ecotourism, asking where my definition came from and why it included both the environment and the communities, instead of just the environment. Before I discuss the Four R's of ecotourism, I thought I'd quickly address this question in this week's newsletter, since it was such a popular question!

My definition of ecotourism used in the June 13 Eco Wild is actually a conglomeration of many other definitions, including TIES, Martha Honey, Ecosource Network, Eco-resorts.com and the UN.

Originally, ecotourism was defined as purely nature based, forgetting the impact tourism had on the local communities. There are still many people who think ecotourism is only nature based and do not believe the local communities should have a say in determining the future of ecotourism in their areas. However, it most cases it quickly became apparent that trying to create a new type of tourism which only focused on wildlife and the environment, while excluding the local communities, simply did not work.

Those countries that involved ALL the stakeholders in the ecotourism decision making process, including the local communities, had a much higher success rate in implementing profitable ecotourism. Martha Honey gives some excellent case studies (which I mentioned in my Costa Rica issue of Eco Wild) in her book. Consequently, most recent definitions of ecotourism now include a more synergistic approach, including the tourist, local community and environment.

If you are interested in learning more about ecotourism, I suggest two free and interesting email discussion forums. Questions such as these are openly discussed in these forums, with a variety of different people.

1. Our own ecoforum, called Eco Wild, based on East African ecotourism only. Please email me if you would like to join.
2. Greentours, based on global ecotourism. To join, send a blank e-mail to: greentour-subscribe@egroups.com

2. The four R's of ecotourism

Now that we at least have a starting definition of what ecotourism is, we need to look at how to implement it. I call this the Four R's of ecotourism, a term coined by Ellen Scott, but re-defined by me. In the summary below, I am focusing on the Four R's for a tour operator, ecolodge or travel agent. I encourage you to take a few minutes this week to consider the Four R's below and ask yourself how your company measures up!

-Are you a responsible ecolodge, travel agent or eco tour operator who ensures that most of the company revenue earned stays in the country and that a part of the revenue is given to the local communities and/or conservation projects?
-Do you have an environmental plan to manage your waste to protect your local area and communities?
-Do you purchase the bulk of your supplies from local suppliers?

-Are you a responsible ecolodge, travel agent or eco tour operator who ensures that you respect the local culture and wildlife in your areas?
-Do you respect your local neighbours concerning noise pollution?
-Do you offer cultural tours to your guests, in addition to wildlife safaris?

-Are you a responsible ecolodge, travel agent or eco tour operator who ensures that your clients have accurate information concerning their destination choice? Are your clients expecting more than what can be reasonably delivered in the middle of a guided walk with the Masaii?
-Do you offer a true ecotour, offering and preserving the wildlife and culture in your area, or are you jumping on the "Eco Lite" (term coined by Martha Honey) bandwagon?

-Are you a responsible ecolodge, travel agent or eco tour operator with a business plan that fits into the ecotourism ethics?
-Does your business plan include a system that will give back to your local wildlife and community?

If you have any comments or feedback on the Four R's of ecotourism, please let me know as I always value your feedback!

3. Did you know that...?

...Green Globe ecofriendly travel tips are printed on the back of the Thomas Cook travellers cheque wallet, as part of a campaign to educate the consumers about environmental issues?

...the beautiful green Puerto Rican parrot is down to 40 members worldwide and is listed as one of the top 10 most endangered bird species in the world? Maybe we shouldn't give Polly that cracker after all!

...deforestation is considered a double whammy when contributing to global warming? Not only does the cut tree release the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere by burning or deforestation, but it also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that can be stored in the future, since a tree needs to be at least 35 years old to be an efficient carbon storer.

...each day, more solar energy bathes the Earth than it's 5.9 billion inhabitants consume in equivalent electric power in 27 years?! Wow!

I hope you enjoyed this week's issue as much as I enjoyed writing it; now I encourage you to take some action and go wild about East Africa, wildlife and ecotourism!

Thank you for your support!

Article ideas, quiz ideas, general feedback and other suggestions are always welcome! Please send them to: anne@eco-resorts.com.

If you would like to join the Eco Wild email eco forum discussion group, please send an email to: ecowild-subscribe@egroups.com. If you would prefer not to receive any more copies of the Eco Wild newsletters, please email anne@eco-resorts.com with "unsubscribe" in the subject line (sniff! !).

For permission to reprint this or any article from Eco Wild (formerly HMS corporate newsletter), please contact Anne Loehr at: anne@eco-resorts.com.

Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved Anne Loehr

Anne Loehr
P.O. Box 120
Watamu, Kenya

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