Ecoclub Member Blogs

Leaving no footprints is no longer enough

In an era of climate crisis and mass migration, leaving no footprints is no longer enough - Responsible tourists should leave solidarity footprints behind, we need a positive, progressive, green impact tourism! Two inspiring examples from Greece: 1. Welcommon Hostel, Athens (Web:  https://welcommonhostel.gr ): A seven-floor building in the centre of Athens, a former public clinic, converted into a hostel and run by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis (Wind of Renewal), led by former Green MEP (Member of European Parliament) Mr Nikos Chrysogelos. Since 2018 it offers inexpensive, eco-accommodation and is also a center for social and green innovation and the arts, making bridges between locals, migrants and refugees. It is disabled-friendly and bicyle-friendly. Two floors function as an open centre for social empowerment and inclusion, creating new employment opportunities in areas such as upcycling, ethnic cuisines, culture, green / cyclic economy, energy efficiency and others. Classes are offered (languages, painting,...
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How a trip to Portland turned me into a dancing grebe stalker

190615-ca Dancing Grebes
I’d never paid much attention to grebes one of our prettiest but elusive waterfowl until I got the chance to see grebes dancing. Then I was all in. I boned up on grebe behavior and watched a David Attenborough video of two grebes – chicken-sized waterfowl - running across a lake on their toes in a perfectly synchronized dance. It looked stunning.  At the YYC airport I waited to board WestJet’s inaugural flight from Calgary to Portland April 29. With free munchies and selfies with the flight crew, the departure lounge had a party vibe. “Why are you going to Portland?” asked a fellow traveler. “I’m going to see dancing grebes,” I replied. Her brows scrunched together in confusion. “Dancing grapes?” she uttered. “No, dancing grebes. They are a type of waterfowl and one of the best places to see their courtship is in Southern Oregon. Portland’s a great place to...
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The Good News and Bad News About Our Flourishing Forests

bright-daylight-environment-240040
Over the past few decades, our efforts towards reforestation have finally started to pay off – in the United States, at least. In the US, we annually replant about 40% more trees than we harvest. However, the world at large still   loses about 10 billion trees per year.  That means, in only 300 years, we’ll be completely out of trees. Even though we’re moving in the right direction, more still needs to be done, or our children’s children won’t be able to see the Earth as we do today. So, what things do we need to do to preserve the Earth’s forests – and by extension, its ecosystems, climate, and natural beauty – for subsequent generations, if what we’re doing now just isn’t enough? Type Matters Not all forests are created equal. For example, the Bonn Challenge, a global reforestation initiative launched in 2011, has been joined by countries the world...
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Ikaria: Blue, Red and Green

The Greek island of Ikaria, (or Icaria, after Icarus) is famously one of the planet's 5 blue zones, with one of the world’s greatest life expectancy, and the lowest rates of middle-age mortality and dementia. Less known outside Greece is the fact that it combines its healthy and leisurely lifestyle with being a red fortress (or vestige) where the communists are the dominant force, although the communist candidate unexpectedly lost with "just" 42% in the May 2019 municipal elections. And it is now turning Green and able to cover 50% of its energy needs with renewable energy through an innovative Euros 50m development, inaugurated by the Greek Public Power Corporation (DEH) on World Environment Day 2019: a pumped storage clean energy plant that combines wind and hydraulic energy, named "Naeras" from "Nero-Water" and "Aeras-Wind". Essentially wind energy from a wind park, is "stored" by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an...
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Top 5 of the local Tibetan agency

Tibetan Guide                                                                                                               Tibetan guide offers tailor-made tours and also one-day private tours. Tibetan guide has many long tour packages and also received many trustworthy reviews on TripAdvisor. Tibet  visa                                                                                                        Celebrated as the trailblazer of Tibet inbound tourism since 1984, Tibet Vista (or CITS Shigatse Tibet)...
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The public letter to the Minister of the Environment to support in the establishment of non-disturbance of breeding birdlife

linnud Photo: Karl Adami
  May 28, 2019   To: Minister of the Environment, Mr Rene Kokk   We support your call to private forest owners in Estonia, to follow the good example of the state (the State Forest Management organization) to follow the ban on logging in Spring and early Summer. We join the environmental organizations public letter and ask you to establish by the regulation of the Minister of the Environment the protection from logging of all Estonian forests during the bird nesting season. In addition the arguments put forward by the environmental organizations, we want to draw attention to the negative impact that logging during the nesting season has on the tourism sector. Estonia is considered to be one of Europe´s most outstanding birdwatching and wildlife tourism destinations. The high season for the birdwatching tourism lasts from March to June. Felling the trees during the most important and delicate period for the...
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Top 10 purposeful mountain expeditions of 2019

Top 10 purposeful mountain expeditions of 2019
“Great things are done when men and mountains meet!” – The quote by William Blake sums up the purposes and motivation for people to keep exploring the mountains. One might be going to mountains to find solitude and other might be going to get connected to new people and communities. There is always a purpose to it. The stronger the purpose, the more the exploration and learning one can bring back from mountains. Seeing the different lifestyles, natural wonders, and achieving new height every day are nothing less than life-changing experiences. Mountains challenge and motivate to conquer much more than one’s believes. Here are some trekking expeditions of 2019 that have a unique purpose to them. These expeditions are not just designed in the beautiful mountain ranges but they take you close to the mountain ecosystem. Seeing and experiencing the destinations with such a unique approach gives an opportunity to know...
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Making Ecolabels Affordable, User-friendly and Transparent.

190522-solar-bank-ulcumano Photo of Solar Bank provided by Ulcumano Ecolodge of Peru, during their Ecoclub Desktop Audit, March 2019
One of the main impediments for the expansion of ecolabels to small accommodations. The undeniable, rarely uttered truth, is that all the best-known, credible, labels charge far more than a small hotelier can afford or is willing/used to pay, for services that they do not consider as absolutely necessary or legally required. Worse, the process is time-consuming for small owners that have to multi-task every day. Part of the solution is making ecolabels required by law, at least for accommodations of a certain size. Quality Tour Operators may also make accommodation ecolabels necessary, if they give preference to certified accommodation. But the real solution is making ecolabels affordable and user-friendly. A quick way of doing both is to introduce remote, online, real-time audits using Skype, or similar free conferencing software. At the one end the Auditor can request the auditee (usually the owner in small properties) to show her/him in real...
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Sharing Economy Uplifts Downtown Athens

Sharing Economy Uplifts Downtown Athens
Much-maligned by a small but vocal anti(over)tourism fringe and misguided hoteliers, Airbnb (and copycat platforms, imitation being the most sincere form of flattery) have single-handedly changed Tourism for ever. They have democratised it, spreading benefits widely and deeply into local communities and neighbourhoods. This is very much so in our home city, Athens, where Airbnb and the subway have transformed formerly run-down, down-town areas and offered a lifeline to lower-middle class owners, during the protracted Greek financial crisis which saw unemployment rates soar to 25% (currently at around 18%). The beneficial effects of the tourism sharing economy in Athens, a classic city break and an ancient tourism destination, were recognised in a one-day conference focusing on the future of Tourism Rentals held yesterday, 9 May 2019, in Athens. The event, attended by mayoral and regional candidates with local elections taking place in two weeks, was co-organised by the Athens Merchants Association (ESA)...
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The era of the so-called

The era of the so-called
When we describe something as 'so-called' we do not really take a neutral position but imply that it should not be called this: note the expression "your so-called friends". Personally, I always use the words 'so-called' in front of 'Overtourism', as, although I recognise that the term is in popular use, I dispute that it is a new phenomenon, which merits the invention of fancy new tools. It is simply, a result of 'Undermanagement', a result of the lack or inappropriate use of tried and tested tools backed by tens of thousands of academic research papers and best case studies. Even in our famously disorganised (famous) city, we do not get any Overtourism in the extremely confined and slippery place that is the Acropolis despite millions visiting every year. The term 'Overtourism' also has population alarmist (cf. 'Overpopulation') and racist, xenophobic undertones and does not go well with green, pro-tourism, open...
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