E3 Travel and Tourism -
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Moving Beyond "Ecotourism" and "Responsible Tourism" to E3 Travel Programs
IBF has long been uncomfortable with the terms eco-tour and ecotourism because there is no accountability and they have been used to embrace ANY travel that includes "nature" -- getting out of a city -- even when getting there is by a gas guzzling SUV (sport-utility vehicle or four-wheel drive); ripping up the savannah in the process, and regardless of its impact -- that is not us. Other not uncommon characteristics of "eco-tourism" can be; energy-intensive accommodations, encouraging gluttonous amounts of eating (with no reference to dining room waste, how food was produced, or where -- a reliance of imported foodstuff and drinks,) prodigious amounts of promotional materials that are paper intensive, and other wasteful and/or energy intensive practices, and little client education on impact of cultural behavior on the environment. Consequentially we rarely use the term ecotourism in any of our publicity.
"Responsible travel" is facing the same deterioration. It should be "(original) eco-tourism plus" . Too often it is defined and practiced with a diluted focuses on cultural responsibility and economic benefit, and a general disregard for energy intensiveness (i.e. motorization) and other sustainability issues.
As an alternative we measure programs by a "E3 Travel" standard (environment, economics and education). This is very similar to the triple bottom line concept of sustainable business (environment, social justice and fiscal), but we like to think of it as the top line for travel programs.
If you draw these as a triangle, each element reinforces the others:
Incidentally, in tourism E3 product doesn't seem to be a gender thing: We have seen both male and female own travel specialist who were both relatively better and worse. We have seen foreign owned, male and female, boutique hotel operators who were relatively better and worse. And, we have seen locally owned, male and female service providers who were relatively better and worse on a E3 audit.
Within the E3 structure, an urban bike ride with a lecture on a historic district, a work project in a village and a forest walk learning about ethno-botany and looking for primates all can come out on top, as we think they should. Traditional "S"-tourism" (sun, sand, sea, skiing, sailing, sitting, swimming, scuba, snorkel, safari, sitting, sleeping, sight-seeing) can be done in a E3 way. It is not necessarily the location, the activity or the personnel, but it is how it fits together, the benefits and the costs. Help heal the world when you travel.
Do the E3 of a defined activity guarantee sustainability? No, not if integral to getting to the activity is airplane travel by the participants. Given current technology, even with carbon offsets, you are at best at a "second-best solution". The theory is that second-best solutions are never as good first-best, which in this case would forgoing the flying. A reasonable expectation of how people are going to get to the E3 activity must be incorporated into the equation.
The triple bottom line of responsible tourism is 3 E’s: environmental sustainability, engaging in the local economic, and enriching your life from the culture. Actually, it is about the same for all life.
Eco-bird-tourism: Unlike so much of the bird and wildlife “eco-tourism” which relies on land rovers and vans, Keolandea Ghana Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur, India (home to around 360 species of birds) allows no motorized transport inside. It is eco-tourism in means and ends. If you are not up to cycling you can walk, but the more customary way of viewing the sanctuary is to hire a cycle rickshaw. There are special Keoladeo National Park Authorized Sight Seeing Rickshaws. Most of the rickshaw wallahs are also quite knowledgeable about the birds.
The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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