Sustainable tourism is more than just a new way to travel in an environmentally responsible way. It is becoming clear that it is an awareness of all those involved in the tourism process. Like many vacation destinations, hotels and guests are waking up to realise that a green mentality is spreading across more and more
Sustainable tourism is more than just a new way to travel in an environmentally responsible way. It is becoming clear that it is an awareness of all those involved in the tourism process. Like many vacation destinations, hotels and guests are waking up to realise that a green mentality is spreading across more and more sectors of society.
A key part of this puzzle is the travel agency, which is often the first point of contract for a person in search of a holiday. Responsible Hotels has set out to explain just why this new focus is so important and what the most common customer requirements are.
Beginning with our Nordic neighbours, who were the first to awaken to this environmental awareness, this new practice has been spreading across Europe for years now. This progress has increased significantly over the last decade, including a growing level of involvement and demands from travellers regarding the sustainability of their destination and travel choices.
The British Travel Agents Association (ABTA) recently conducted a survey, where relevant data was available, regarding the role of this sector has to play within the context of responsible tourism.
1. Paying More For The Environment
According to data collected, 21% of consumers would pay more for their holidays in order to choose choose a company with a positive environmental and social track record. Travellers are increasingly more likely to consumer products and services that are environmentally conscious than from companies who are not.
2. A Responsible Destination Is the Agency’s Responsibility
However, one curious finding that may be of value to travel agencies is that responsible tourists - despite being aware of the environment – believe that the responsibility for sustainability lies mostly with travel companies. For them, it is the agency that must ensure that destinations offered are respectful to all principles of sustainable tourism.
3. Think Green? “Better That You Do It For Me?
Thus, 49% of respondents said that they do not want to ‘think green’ while on vacation. From the time they leave the house, they prefer to be done with that issue
and devote all of their time to fully enjoying their time off. This point makes clear that most travellers believe that it is up to the travel industry to lead on sustainability rather than it being an issue they have to pay attention to while their are on holiday.
4. Measuring The Sustainability Of An Agency
How can you tell if the travel agency you choose is consistent with responsible tourism? This is a question considered by many consumers and according to the ABTA survey, 36% of those asked supported the idea of establishing a ratings system on sustainability and social responsibilities, similar to start ratings for hotels.
5. The Younger You Are, The More Aware You Are
Another characteristic of responsible tourists is that they tend to be younger, according to the survey. Young people between the ages 16 and 24 were found to be the most sensitive to environmental projects linked to the tourism sector, suggesting that this attitude is like to grow among consumers.
6. Experiences Make For A Better Trip
One of the main reasons why customers are willing to pay more for their trips is because they are realising that sustainable vacation options tend to be better. For example, people are enjoying themselves more when they can taste typical local products or engage with the indigenous culture of their destination.
7. The Agencies Are Responsible
The message is clear for travel agencies. More and more consumers are demanding greater involvement and responsibility on their part in search of “green” tourism. Respondents to the survey made clear that they would prefer to leave their home knowing that their vacation meets all the requirements of sustainability and can enjoy their long-awaited holiday without worry.
A pleasant tropical climate and a magical rainforest environment are just two highpoints for nature lovers. If you add an ecolodge to the mix, what happens? The answer is, an incredibly interesting destination for ecotourists. This is the case with the Rio Cuasa Ecolodge in Ecuador. Responsible Hotels reached out to the hotel’s manage, Oscar
A pleasant tropical climate and a magical rainforest environment are just two highpoints for nature lovers. If you add an ecolodge to the mix, what happens? The answer is, an incredibly interesting destination for ecotourists. This is the case with the Rio Cuasa Ecolodge in Ecuador. Responsible Hotels reached out to the hotel’s manage, Oscar Ortiz, to find out more about what makes this natural destination special.
Ecolodge Rio Cuasa en Ecuador
-The Rio Cuasa Ecolodge is located in the Ecuadorian rainforest. When and how did this inn come to be? Where did the idea come from?
The project was founded in 2006 during a family meeting to figure out how best to use and honour the natural setting of our farm in a tourist-friendly way, which gave way to the construction of hosting spaces and a restaurant for visitors. Thus began our project, starting with the first two cabins and a dining area and after adjustments were made, we erected a camping area and greenery along the river. Since then, it has continued to grow year after year and now we have 7 quadrangle cottages, nature trails, a camping area, birding towers, a wildflower garden, mini-sports courts, canoes and buoys in the river and a restaurant.
- Can you describe the natural environment?
It is surrounded by a tropical rain forest on the coast of Ecuador, located just inside the entrance to the Mache Chindul nature reserve, just 10 metres from the Cuasa Riverside, where natural and crystal clear water flows from the heart of the reserve.
-What are the main characteristics of the natural environment?
We live in an environment with a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging between 16° and 26°. Here you can find up to 360 different bird species.
- What is the best way to enjoy this nature?
Relaxing on the deck in the company of a good book, walking the self-guided trails, bird watching with ease throughout the ecolodge, relaxing in the refreshing waters of the river and placing mud on your body for a natural exfoliation – these are just some of the options available to visitors to enjoy nature, as well as guided tours.
Ecolodge Rio Cuasa en Ecuador
- What kind of trips and activities can you schedule from there?
The main journey is a walk to the Mache Chindul ecological reserve. The route begins in our ecolodge, crossing by the gazebo and by undefined streams. The hike includes a look at an array of flora and fauna throughout the rainforest, led by a local naturalist guide. If you find yourself there during the rainy season, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the waterfalls, pick some local fruit, take some photos and maybe even learn some local secrets and survival techniques. The itinerary of this tour can be modified depending on weather and the conditions of the travellers, with available duration between 2 and 5 hours.
Other excursions and activities include a guided trek through the forest, a river canoe trip, picking fruit in the garden, milking a cow, a flower arranging workshop, cheese making, an artisanal chocolate workshop – “From the Bush to the Table”, horseback riding, and even a walk to see monkeys in the wild.
-Speaking of which, what kind of contact is possible with animals?
Tourists can appreciate animals in their natural state by photographing them in a prudent manner, allowing them to get a closer look at how they live. Among the different species, we have the howler monkey, the sloth bear, birds, toucans and armadillos.
- What are the main attractions?
The entirety of the Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve includes lush flora and fauna, exotic landscapes with waterfalls, natural pools – all in protected lands along the Ecuadorian coast because of its 360 species of birds and waterways that feed into the river systems and estuaries in the area. This all combines to make it a truly unique attraction to visit.
Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve
-How does the ecolodge help contribute to the care of the environment?
We promote the care and respect for nature, revealing the value and importance of the ecosystem that surrounds us. When tourists visit the ecolodge and participate in tours, they will be subject to a certain level of education about the important role played by each and every living being on the planet, encouraging them to respect and care for it. We organise environmental awareness events and campaigns, providing an example of our sustainable tourism practices. We also participate in forest conservation and reforestation.
- What kind of green projects do you have going?
We are working on producing organic fertiliser from kitchen waste. We also hope to create a workshop to teach and promote this system to nearby communities. Then there is the planting of organic fruit. With the campaign “Use your thermos”, we aim to help minimize the use of plastic bottles. As a part of this effort, each visitor carrying a thermos receives a free juice and water during their stay.
Another initiative is “Recognition Animal Protector” where we promote wildlife protection awareness to local communities. With this, we are encouraging citizens to care for different local species, allowing the release and reintroduction of several animals, including turtles, toucans, sloths and monkeys that were in danger due to hunting and trafficking wildlife.
For now, we are also working on the “Ecological Path of Glory”, which is a guided tour running about 1400 metres, where tourists can enjoy nature walking with views, waterfalls and rivers.
Mache Chindul Ecological Reserve
Pure nature and contact with animals – the Rio Cuasa Ecolodge preserves the essence of the rainforest while respecting the surrounding environment. It is an original way to spend the holidays responsibly in the privileged environment that Ecuador offers. It is an opportunity to unwind and spend a few days of real rest.