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I was equally surprised, delighted and impressed that Mr. Ehlers introduced the term “Turismo Consciente” as the theme of our deliberations today because, quite independently of Mr. Ehlers, I put together the words “conscious” and “travel” in my own thoughts and writings just about two years ago. I had been developing a community – based program called Places That Care. Frustrated at the slow speed with which the tourism industry was adopting sustainable practices, I was looking for evidence that a market might exist for providers who took responsibility for protecting the natural and cultural environment on which they depended. I came across a significant body of international research – not in tourism, I might add – that showed how many consumers were responding to the fateful events of 2007 – 2008 when the global economy fell on its knees. The recession accelerated a shift that had begin in the late 70s in which a growing segment of the population had decided that “mindless consumption” wasn’t for them. A snippet from a report by Ogilvy and Mather jumped out at me:

 

It is an undeniable fact: The recession has created not only a universal sense of anxiety and fear, but a greater level of consciousness across all ages and genders. We can’t go back. We have heightened our perception; we are awake, aware and alert – whether we like it or not.

 

As I associate the state of being awake, aware and alert with being conscious, you can imagine my curiosity peaked upon discovering another research study, conducted quite independently, that described a new, post –recessionary consumer as being a Conscious Consumer. Not long after that, I was introduced to the groundbreaking work of some very successful business men and women (owners and senior executives of companies such as Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, Amazon, Google, Patagonia etc) who were calling themselves “Conscious Capitalists” and I began to imagine what a “conscious traveler” might look like. I created the blog Conscious Travel to share these observations; to sense what reaction they evoked and to create a space where the concept could incubate and develop.

In my mind, the concept of Conscious Travel has three forms: by Anna Pollock. Read More.

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Vultures are often derided for being ugly and smelly, but these incredibly efficient scavengers help humanity by eating dead animals. And India has recently found just how crucial this role is to our well-being. By BBC. Read more.

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I still remember him vividly. He was a little boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, who navigated the streets of New Delhi by lying, stomach-down, on an old skateboard, and pulling his body along with his arms. He didn’t have any legs. He rolled over to me, looked up into my eyes, and asked for money. Struggling not to cry, I reached into my pocket and handed over the equivalent of $10, less than what I spend on coffee each week. Giving him those $10 might be among the most destructive things I’ve ever done. By Jillian Keenan. Read more.

Photo: Eric Johnson

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By the end of our time in Southern Africa, we thought we were African safari gurus. I mean, what first-time Africa travelers go on over 40 safari drives in one visit? From Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, to Kruger Park proper and the surrounding wildlife reserves, we thought we knew the drill. Then we went to Tanzania, and our whole concept of how a safari works went straight out the window. There are some big differences, and advantages and disadvantages to both. By Emily Deemer. Read more.

Photo: Eric Rock

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Britain should turn swathes of its upland pastures into woodland to help prevent flooding, according to a former environment minister, Lord Rooker. He said new forests would slow flooding by trapping water with their roots. The idea of “rewilding” the uplands is catching on fast as parts of Britain face repeated flooding, with more rainfall on the way. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said he would seriously consider innovative solutions like rewilding. The government has been criticised for being slow to capitalise on the benefits of capturing rain where it falls. By Roger Harrabin. Read more.

Work has begun in the hills above Pickering, North Yorkshire, to slow the flow of the river. Source: BBC UK

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Let’s stipulate up front that there is no great sport in hunting a black rhinoceros, especially not in Namibia’s open countryside. The first morning we went out tracking in the northern desert there, we nosed around in vehicles for several hours until our guides spotted a rhino a half mile off. Then we hiked quietly up into a high valley. There, a rhino mom with two huge horns stood calmly in front of us next to her calf, as if triceratops had come back to life, at a distance of 200 yards. We shot them, relentlessly, with our cameras. By Richard Conniff. Read more.

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As I read through the extensive messaging from the travel press at this time of year, one thing stands out in my mind: that responsible travel, ecotourism, and agritourism are increasing in popularity every day. There is a convergence of ecotravel and luxe in places which were once solely back-packers’ havens. Years ago, who would have expected a luxury eco-inn in Newfoundland? But that is precisely what the Fogo Island Inn, designed by Ilse Crawford, has accomplished with flair with its artistic collaborations and a pervading sense of natural drama. Other good examples are the Pikaia Lodge, which is located on a large tortoise reserve in the Galapagos Islands, and Bale Mountain lodge in Central Ethiopia, which has an in-house naturalist to help guests understand the five distinct habitats which make up the park, home to rare animals like the black-maned lions. By Pamela Lanier. Read more

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland. Source: ‘E Turbo News’
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Every year thousands of volunteers and tourists are lured to giving love to children in need around the developing word. In the past decade the number of orphan children has declined worldwide, however the increasing number of orphanages in many developing countries matches the rising numbers of tourists. In many parts of the world orphanages have become a tourist attraction and a ‘bucket list’ volunteering opportunity. The orphan child has become a pseudo commodity for volunteers who are lured into giving love to children in need. The orphanage business has seen a “gap” in the market and is objectifying children all around the developing world as a product and principal element of a packaged holiday “orphanage voluntourism” and this needs to stop. By ‘Tourism Concern’. Read more.

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The government and all stakeholders in the tourism industry should pay more attention to the happiness of tourists after visiting Indonesia instead of only focusing on increasing the number of visitors. “So far, the visitors are still regarded as a commodity, or a source of money, but we have not asked whether they are happy after visiting Indonesia,” said World Committee on Tourism Ethics member I Gede Ardika in the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Hub City Forum themed “Indonesia’s Tourism Role in the Complete Visitor Economy” in Yogyakarta on Friday. By Bambang Muryanto. Read more.

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TripAdvisor, one of the largest online travel sites, launched a “GreenLeaders” program that ranks 2,100 U.S. hotels based on their eco-friendliness, focusing on operations more than construction. Those 2100 hotels now have something that their competitors do not. No…not a heart, but a ranking. I don’t know about you, but when I managed hotels I never wanted my competition to have an advantage that I did not and this program is free. By Ray Burger. Read more.

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