Press Releases

India: Kerala Tourism launches project to make destinations accessible to people with disabilities

Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala - 9 April 2019: Kerala Tourism has launched the first phase of its most awaited project "Barrier-free Kerala". The first phase has made around 70 tourist destinations in Kerala accessible to elderly people and people with disabilities. With this initiative, Kerala Tourism aspires to make all tourism destinations in Kerala "differently abled-friendly" by 2020. Specialised tour packages are also on the anvil. A milestone in Kerala’s Tourism development is that Kerala is the first state in India to implement UN World Tourism Organisation’s call for 'Tourism for All Promoting Universal Accessibility’ in 2016.

Around 70 tourist centres have been equipped for the differently abled with accessible ramps, special toilets, wheelchairs, walking sticks, folding walkers, crutches, special signages, tactile walkways, touch screen kiosks, Braille brochures, audio guides and so forth. In harmony with 'The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016', 261 ramps, 116 toilets, 163 wheelchairs, 170 walking sticks, 958 signages and 159 crutches have already been provided in various centres so far.

United States: Port of Seattle Awards $10,000 Ecotourism and Astronomy Contract to Goldendale Chamber of Commerce

Goldendale ObservatoryGoldendale, WA, United States - 4 April 2019: The Port of Seattle's innovative tourism marketing support program is providing direct benefits to the City of Goldendale and Goldendale Observatory State Park.

A recently awarded $10,000 contract to the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce by the Port will be used to support astronomy and science tourism awareness of the area's unique facilities.

"Dark sky awareness is something the City of Goldendale strongly supports, as demonstrated by our recently updated lighting ordinance," stated Goldendale Mayor Mike Canon. "Dark skies, the Goldendale Observatory, and the Port of Seattle's eco-tourism interests come together very well."

Belize Triples the Size of its Marine Protected Areas

Laughing Bird Caye, BelizeBelize City, Belize - April 5, 2019: In a bold step for the sustainability of its fisheries and the world’s second largest barrier reef, the government of Belize has approved a plan to set aside 10% of its territorial waters as no-take marine protected areas (MPAs), tripling the size of its existing zones.

This major expansion of the MPAs is coupled with the Caribbean nation’s move to adopt a national secure fishing rights program in 2016. It represents the culmination of more than six years of work led by The National Conservation Zone Expansion Steering Committee, which includes the Belize Fisheries Department, Environmental Defense Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, Belize Federation of Fishers, Belize Fishermen Cooperatives, Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, Belize Forest Department, National Protected Areas Secretariat, Belize Coast Guard, Healthy Reefs Initiative, Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations and Toledo Institute for Development.

“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment that is setting an example for the rest of the world to follow,” said Katie McGinty, Senior Vice President for Oceans at Environmental Defense Fund. “The combination of significant marine protected areas and managed access for fishers will help protect some of the most important ecosystems in the world while ensuring sustainable fishing can continue to provide food, nutrition and livelihoods to the thousands of Belizeans who rely on these valuable natural resources.”

Over more than six years, an international collaboration of scientists led by Belizeans worked to identify zones that can protect marine habitat and allow for recovery of degraded ecosystems, while at the same time helping to replenish fish stocks. A lengthy process of consultations with stakeholders, facilitated by Government of Belize, Belizean community NGOs, EDF and other international NGO partners, resulted in widespread support for these new marine protected areas, and a commitment to stewardship from coastal communities.

The expansion of marine protected areas will have an impact well beyond fisheries. It is a crucial step for Belize to meet the aspirations of its national development plans and its international commitments under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“A healthy reef and vibrant fisheries sector is necessary for Belize to achieve its goals for reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition and increasing investment for development in Belize,” according to Belize Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade.

This new expansion comes as Belize was recently recognized for the impact of its sustainable fisheries. According to the most recent ‘Mesoamerican Reef Report Card’ by Healthy Reef for Healthy People, Belize’s no-take zones show growing fish populations and biodiversity. That biodiversity is magnificent and unique—mangroves, corals, seagrass and cayes support populations of conch, lobster and a variety of reef fish.

In 2016, in response to growing threats to the health of their fisheries, Belize established a nationwide secure fishing rights program, the first of its kind in the world. Belize’s approach creates incentives for fishing communities to become stewards of their fisheries. At the center of the solution being adopted by Belize is a combination of secure fishing rights and empowerment of fishermen called “Managed Access.” Under this approach, fishers and fishing communities control their own future through licenses, giving them access to fish in specific geographic areas of the fishery, and responsibilities to help manage the areas and observe regulations.

“Together, managed access and no-take zones are designed to help rebuild fish populations while protecting critical habitat,” said Nicanor Requena, Belize Project Manager at Environmental Defense Fund, “The people of Belize deserve tremendous credit for their vision and perseverance to protect their natural heritage while encouraging sustainable fishing practices so that people and nature can prosper together.”

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships.

Peru: Ulcumano Ecolodge accepted as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™

Ulcumano Ecolodge accepted as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™Athens, Greece - 2 April 2019: Ulcumano Ecolodge of Peru (Web: http://www.ulcumanoecolodge.com) has just been accepted as an Ecoclub Ecolodge™ following a transparent online audit procedure. Ulcumano has thus become the first Ecoclub Ecolodge in Peru and one of just 24 worldwide. Reacting to the good news the founder and proprietor of Ulcumano Ecolodge, Mr Eduardo De la cadena commented "We are really proud and happy for this! It took us 8 years to have everything in place to be able to receive a recognition like this one from Ecoclub. The project originated in my forestry engineer degree thesis and was influenced by the international ecotourism guidelines. Our team will keep on working for cloud forest conservation through Ulcumano, a life and living project, and this recognition will be very helpful!"

Located in the Oxapampa Ashaninka Yanesha Biosphere Reserva, Ulcumano's cabins lie concealed between the mist and the dense green cover of the Andean cloud forests. They are surrounded by impressive views, water streams and a remarkable biodiversity of flora and fauna including 157 bird species of which 8 are endemic to Peru. The lodge is 10 km from the town of Oxapampa, in La Suiza, Chontabamba district. The area is well known for its unique and diverse natural and cultural landscape, crafted first by the Yanesha indigenous people, and later by German, Austrian and Andean immigrants.

Ulcumano's Ecoclub Ecolodge Audit Report can be found at https://ecoclub.com/ecolodges/audit-reports/ulcumano

More information on the Ecolodge can be found at http://www.ulcumanoecolodge.com/

The Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Ecolabel is an innovative, affordable and transparent certification offered to eligible, eco-friendly, accommodation facilities that successfully complete the Ecoclub Ecolodge™ Audit process. For more details please visit http://ecoclub.com/join/ecolodge

India: Kerala court blocks tourism activity in Wayanad Forest citing lack of carrying capacity studies

Kochi, 22 March 2019: Kerala's High Court has blocked visits to 60 tourism sites in Wayanad Forest citing lack of carrying capacity studies and state level ecotourism strategy.

Read more: "HC stays government's plan for tourism in Wayanad forests"- Times of India

Aviation: New jet fuel made from plant scraps may reduce emissions

March 21, 2019 - Cell Press/Science Daily: Scientists in China have developed a process for converting plant waste from agriculture and timber harvesting into high-density aviation fuel. Their research may help reduce CO2 emissions from airplanes and rockets.

Read more: "Plant scraps are the key ingredient in cheap, sustainable jet fuel" - Science Daily

Guyana recognised as 'Best Ecotourism' destination by Green Destinations Foundation

Berlin - 6 March 2019:  Guyana has been named the #1 “Best of Ecotourism” destination in the world. The award was presented to Guyana at the ITB global travel trade fair in Berlin, Germany. The second annual “Best of Top 100” Awards is a selection of the finest top 100 destinations selected by a panel of experts who reviewed sustainability success stories submitted by destinations worldwide. The newly created “Best of Ecotourism” category was added in 2019 and put Guyana up against very well-known and experienced ecotourism destinations like Sierra Gorda in Mexico, Tmatboey in Cambodia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. 

St Lucia tries to combine cruise tourism with community-based strategies

Castries - March 4, 2019: The Month of March is expected to be a record-breaking period in Saint Lucia’s cruise sector.

Between Friday March 1, and Sunday March 3, 2019, twelve (12) cruise vessels including the inaugural call of Crystal Esprit brought an estimated combined capacity of 19,052 travelers to the destination. Expected through March 31, is the arrival of an additional 125,434 travelers.

In an effort to maximize the benefits of tourism locally that is in direct keeping with our current plans and policy trends toward sustainable cruise tourism strategies, special focus is being placed on the development and management of the cruise sector.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure that Saint Lucians benefit more from these impressive numbers. A revenue committee has been established at the Tourism Council to yield greater economic penetration for our people.” said Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee. "Therefore, the tremendous growth we are experiencing is a great beginning and we are committed to making this count by training our vendors and other stakeholders to focus on revenue.”

India: Kerala inaugurates accessible tourism infrastructure in over 100 venues

Thiruvananthapuram, India - 3 March 2019: A video in sign language and a braille brochure on local attractive spots were unveiled on Saturday by state minister Kadakampally Surendran, who claimed Kerala was the first in the country to create basic amenities for the disabled at tourism centres.The tourism minister was speaking after unveiling the new initiatives of Thenmala Ecotourism Promotion Society (TEPS) at a function here.

Read more: Kerala role model in making tourism disabled-friendly, says minister Surendran - MyNation.com

India: Indigenous communities to be evicted from their forests in the name of "Conservation"

22 February 2019 - Bilaspur, India: On 13 February, the Supreme Court of India, hearing a decade-old petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, ordered that forest dwellers whose claims for recognition of forest rights have been rejected would have to be evicted in a summary and time-bound manner. The order contains separate instructions for each state government to ensure that such evictions are duly carried out.