ECOCLUB

ISSN 1108-8931

INTERNATIONAL ECOTOURISM MONTHLY

Year 6 - Issue 67

Sponsored by: Zante Feast Discovery Holidays, Purple Valley Yoga Centre, Hana Maui Botanical Gardens, Jorth Consult Limited, Pacuare Lodge

Golden Buddha Beach Reconstruction under way, North Andaman Tsunami Relief Launched

During January, ECOCLUB Ecolodge Golden Buddha Beach, beyond their own reconstruction efforts that are already under way so that the Lodge reopens in December 2005, have also found the strength to also launch and organise a broader initiative called the North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR). The tireless Bodhi Garrett has been the main force behind all activity, and has become a great information source for people wanting to conduct work in the area. This is the latest report from Bodhi: 

"New opportunities for NATR assistance arise daily and increasing numbers of aid groups arrive and wish to be briefed on the situation in the local area. In some cases this is having a debilitating effect on villages; people are asked about their needs, the organisation departs to prepare a plan of action and the villagers are left unserved. This is where NATR has been able to fill a very necessary gap and the community-driven approach of empowerment is enabling people to make their own choices to improve their lives."  

A second major concern are the rumors of a second tsunami that have been a problem in many villages, where unfounded reports often cause the whole community to flee the village for hours at a time. Tapa Yoi, one of the villages on Koh Phratong was not affected by the tsunami, but the fear of subsequent natural disasters has brought the entire village onto the mainland, where they are living in a tented camp at the temple. NATR is planning to develop a warning system for the island communities, to monitor earthquake activity and we will be looking for major funding for this. The Tsunami Information Center (with dedicated links to seismology centers, a call center, and regular radio reports) will help to alleviate the state of continual fear that many villagers are living in.

Our office in Kuraburi has become a hub of activity, with aid agencies, volunteers and private funders visiting for updates, meetings and funding ideas. We can now be contacted directly by email.

Programmes and Projects: Short-term projects are focusing on food delivery, labour projects, provision of raw materials for handicraft production and livestock replacement. We are now developing longer-term proposals to assist with education and livelihood needs.

Koh Surin: We received a 'wish list' from the Moken (sea gypsy) community on the Surin Islands, and were able to finance this with the help of Island Pools in Phuket. Lucy delivered tools, fresh food and other equipment to the islands.

Laem Naew: This village was left in tact by the tsunami, but many of the boats and traps were damaged, which means that villagers cannot fish and therefore access cash for their daily needs. NATR delivered fresh food, chickens and wood to construct chicken coops and to carry out repairs. We also conducted focus group discussions with the villagers to find out their longer-term needs, and met with the school teacher, who currently teaches a class of 28 students comprising 6 different grades. With his input, NATR is developing some educational projects, both for immediate repair of the facilities and longer-term scholarship opportunities for the children. For donors wishing to target children and education, please get in touch with us about this funding opportunity.

Volunteers: We have received incredible expertise this week, through the contribution of volunteers. We have translators, focus group facilitators, a database expert, IT communications and a project coordinator as well as people prepared to do manual labour. The contribution of volunteers has enabled NATR to operate a professional operation, at minimum administration costs. "

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ECOCLUB Ecolodge Award winning project completed

The 2004 ECOCLUB Ecolodge Award-winning project was completed on time the 10th of December 2004, with the harvesting and selling of produce. The ensuing Tsunami disaster fortunately did not do any damage. Project Manager Vijitha Nugegoda reports: "Everybody involved had a great feeling of fulfillment. However there are two beds which we had to replant that needs to be tended further. This will done by school children. As an extension of this project we have encouraged children who were directly involved with the project to have Bio Vegetables Plots in their own home gardens. We have already provided them with Vegetable Seeds. The teachers at DBV have taken responsibility of following it up. We will of course keep in constant touch with them and provide all the necessary support."

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ECOCLUB Live Chat 

ECOCLUB held a live chat on 25 January 2005 with the topic, and intention, of "Supporting Indian Ocean Ecotourism in the Aftermath of the Tsunami". Unfortunately none of our members in the affected areas were able to join, for understandable reasons, and missed the opportunity to chat live to some leading experts. Still a lively conversation took place. Some of the issues raised, in a rather fleeting fashion, involved: misappropriation of funds, unsuitability of donated material, aid bottlenecks (too much aid coming in at the same time), short memory spans - disasters soon forgotten, same errors repeated, initiatives for sustainability in the rebuilding process, who should be the appropriate recipient of funds (small businesses, communities, the state, NGOs), if there is a slim chance that the disaster can be an opportunity for rebuilding tourism and livelihoods for the benefit of the many and of the environment, the relevance of microcredit and microgrants to small tourism businesses and communities and the value of communication and access to information for the appropriate dispensation of aid. There were more questions than answers, but we will be dealing with these issues in the months ahead, and future issues, so that no opportunity to assist is wasted. We hope to organise follow-up meetings when our Members in the affected areas are able to attend. ECOCLUB again wishes to thank those Members and readers who have donated funds to our Members affected by the tsunami.

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New ECOCLUB Sponsor: Pacuare Lodge (Costa Rica)  

Pacuare LodgeWe warmly welcome Pacuare Lodge as our new Sponsor from Costa Rica. Pacuare Lodge is a magical jungle hideaway located on the banks of Costa Rica's most scenic river where we have combined extraordinary guest comfort and service with exceptional practices in sustainability and ecotourism. The Pacuare Lodge has been recognized by the World Tourism Organization as an example of good practice in sustainability and ecotourism. Here guests may choose from exciting optional tours that include guided hikes through an emerald rainforest, a cultural exchange with a native shaman or our Adventure Canopy Tour. Nature and peaceful relaxation await you:
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A Sustainable & Vocational Tourism Project
by Dr Saulius Jocbalis
, ECOCLUB Expert Member (Lithuania)

European Union's INTERREG IIIC program's project of Sustainable and Vocational Tourism (SUVOT) has just been launched with a meeting in Rimini (Italy) at 30 January - 1 February, 2005. The Lead partner is the Province of Rimini, while the Birstonas Development Agency, headed by Dr Jocbalis is Partner. Duration of the SUVOT project is u till t he end of year 2007. Dr Jocbalis sends us the following report:

This projects intends to share and expand an experience gained by the Province of Rimini in the framework of the past project "Strategies and Instruments for a Sustainable Tourism in Mediterranean Coastal Area" conducted in collaboration with the ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). This project produced, among others, a specialised sectoral network of cities committed to find common solutions to fight the negative effects of mass tourism and join worldwide movements of local governments pursuing tangible improvements in global sustainability.

SUVOT project aim is to reinforce the action lines of the Network of Cities for Sustainable Tourism by refining and transferring the outputs achieved in the previous project so as to advise local governments in other tourist areas to define solid strategies for sustainable quality tourism, contribute to their capacity to address global challenges and learn from the "mistakes of the past".

Experience exchange will be organised via 1 workshop presenting a Knowledge Resources Guide (a sort of toolbox) focusing on:

(a) benefits of Ecolabel & Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14000 or EMAS II) 
(b) application of the techniques to assess the carrying capacity of tourist destinations
(c) other forms of best practice.

Furthermore, the project intends to increase awareness of local governments on the emerging topic of vocational tourism (VT), namely a tourism led by specific personal sensibilities and interests of people: heritage, nature, outdoor activities, etc. VT could break the uniformity of "generic tourism", which still has heavy effects on the tourism sustainability. The wider dissemination is assigned to ICLEI to wider diffuse the conceptual and operative model in which sustainable tourism and vocational tourism (which is the tourist demand of the future) are both integrated.

The main activities of the SUVOT project are: awareness raising, investigations on new patterns of consumption based on vocations, investigation of vocations, and environmental features of the areas involved, testing of the methodology, design and testing of new tourism concepts and dissemination activities.

Outputs will be: 1 workshop combined with 1 study visit to disseminate already existing tools and best practices combined in 1 Knowledge Resource Guide; 1 methodology to classify tourists into different "vocational communities" according to their interests and inclinations; 1 methodology to classify the "vocation of a territory" according to the social, cultural and nature resources; new tourist concept build on "vocations".

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