In recent years popular thinking has shifted and Green is cool. This huge trend can be seen all over from using reusable bags at the grocery store to traveling responsibly. Green sells and because of this many companies are advertising themselves as green or eco-friendly when in reality they are not. Here are two companies, one is actually green and the other is making empty claims in order to increase revenue. Can you tell the difference in an eco-friendly tourism company and one that is an eco-sell tourism company? I hope that this illustration will help you determine the difference.
Amerika Venture Ecotours is located in San Jose, Costa Rica. This company was founded in 1996 and has been a member of TIES since 2000. Amerika Venture Ecotours’ main objective is the “promotion and the development of a more ethical and truly "eco" type of tourism focused on the understanding and recognition of the environment and cultures of the continent: a true encounter with the Americas and its people, wildlife and fauna.” Amerika Venture enforces a "leave no trace" policy on all its trips. Most of their trips focus on wildlife watching and fauna studying. They offer trips centered on bird watching, diving, rafting, National Parks and volcanoes. These attractions provide a first-hand, participatory, and enlightening experience. Because this company highly value education many of their tours are tailored to students and scientists. Amerika Venture Ecotours employs local guides who are passionate and knowledgeable about the environment, local cultures, and local history. This provides for an enjoyable experience that will bring visitors closer to local communities. It also allows the visitors to truly learn about local cultures and the environment. This company uses local service providers including lodging, restaurants, and transportation. By using local companies and employing local guides this wonderful company is providing long term benefits to the resource, the community, and to industry. Nearly all of the proceeds go toward conserving the land they already own and purchasing even more land for conservation. This impressive company also finances local development projects. It should come as no surprise that Amerika Venture Ecotours meets all of the fundamentals as outlined in the reading by Pamela Wight.
Yarok Green Tours is located in Heredia, Costa Rica. I found this company through Ecotour, a website whose main objective is to help travelers plan an eco friendly holiday. As an Ecotour operator, Yarok Green Tours is dedicated to benefiting the locals and to protecting the areas visited while impacting the region as little as possible. The Ecotours website says that they strive to develop sustainable and responsible tours. This website relays Yarok Green Tours’ main purpose which is, “To offer to nature lovers a total immersion ecological experience”. This site goes on to say that Yarok Green Tours strongly believes in responsible tourism, but upon visiting their official website I am very skeptical of these claims. Yarok Green Tours official web site does not contain any information on how they are “green”. The only information within the website involves lodging, adventure activities, and nature observation. Based on the photographs the lodging and the activities don’t appear to be eco friendly. The hotel appears to be no different than a typical hotel. The activities aren’t education or nature centered. Sadly this company does not seem to recognize the intrinsic value of the resource. I was unable to find if this company is a member of TIES but I highly doubt they are. I believe that this is an example of EcoSell and that the company is not following the fundamentals as outlined in the reading by Pamela Wight.