Meaningful conversations with inspiring ecotourism professionals, green practitioners, academics and activists!
NB. Most recent interviews appear first. Would you like to be interviewed or to nominate someone you know well? Contact us!
Allen Schnaak, VP of Business Development, BioNova Natural Pools
|Nigel Thornton, Proprietor, Mas del Bot Hotel, Aragon, Spain |
“We wanted something different from a run-of-the-mill or traditional building...we wanted to make a minimum impact on the environment and to create a more sustainable lifestyle, a business that would be small enough to be run entirely by two people but big enough to be able to live a simple life but a good life”
|Arif Qureshi, Proprietor, L'Orri de Planès Trailside Ecolodge, France |
“A true Ecolodge is a business that puts environmental values into practice on various levels and at the same time allows its owners to make a reasonable living.”
|Jeremy Sampson, CEO, The Travel Foundation, United Kingdom |
"Tourism can either be something that is "done" to a destination by outside forces – a colonial and extractive industry. Or it can be something driven by the destination: stimulating investment, entrepreneurship and small business development"
|Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner, ITB Berlin, Germany |
"Tourism can be a door opener and can help to break down prejudices. The boycotting of certain destinations will harm the affected people living in the destinations. We believe in dialogue instead."
|Jeppe Klockareson, Owner & Founder, Fair Travel, Sweden |
"...there is so much focus at the moment on the environmental aspects of sustainability, whereby the rest seems to be forgotten"
|Marcello Gandolfi, Community Based Tourism Expert |
"Tourism industry, in every community, will always gather promoters and opponents. It is very important to understand the reasons that move some people to refuse tourism, clarify misunderstandings and plan how to include them into the destination."
|Ivan Martin, Project Manager, Swiss Cetacean Society |
"Guidelines need to be specific and adapted not only to cetaceans but also to specific species and/or areas. A fin whale will not react the same way to a boat as a group of pilot whales or a Ganges river dolphin...The more precise a guideline is, the better."
|Bradley Weiss, Sustainable Tourism Development Consultant, United States |
"When we initially talk to small accommodation owners about incorporating environmental and also universal access standards, they usually agree conceptually but also tend to get nervous...So we explain that most of the measures can actually help them save money and that we’ll support them....the vast majority of small accommodations end up embracing the sustainability standards."
|Ronald Sanabria, Consultant & Advisor, Sustainable Tourism, Costa Rica |
"The number one step to work with small and micro-entrepreneurs is demystifying what sustainability is all about, try to avoid complicated lexicon and words that only technical people can understand, and boil down best practices to common sense"
|Emad Hassan, Energy Advisor to the Minister of Tourism, Egypt |
"The average Egyptian measures the health of the tourism sector by the numbers announced about tourists’ arrivals. While the link between these numbers and the well-being of the sector is there, this indicator needs to be further developed to include the economic, environmental and social impacts in order for it to properly address the true impact on the country"
|Palitha Gurusinghe, President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF), Sri Lanka |
"At present, Sri Lanka Tourism is going after ‘Volume’ rather than ‘Value’; they are only interested in the ‘Headcount’. In the process, the Authorities have entirely forgotten projects and programmes on sustainable tourism and ecotourism"
|Jeremy Smith, Editor, Travindy, United Kingdom |
"Most travel writing is really just PR... If a tourism board flies a newspaper journalist out to a destination, puts them up in a couple of hotels, shows them the sights, they expect a favourable piece in return."
|Campo Elias Bernal, Founder & Director, FEDEC, Colombia |
"I believe social innovation is the most promising element in ecotourism and sustainable tourism management"
|Jorge Moller, Director, REGENERA, Chile |
"We need public involvement to sustain a destination forever. If it is only an agreement between private sides it will not succeed."
|Natalia Naranjo, Tourism & Development Expert, Colombia |
"What communities need is a good quality of life and usually, this involves small projects"
|Brad Nahill, Director & Co-founder, SEE Turtles |
"We have seen places where enforcement seems to be working fairly well, such as in Belize and parts of Costa Rica, and other places where there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement like in Nicaragua especially"
|Florian Kaefer, Founder & Editor, Sustainability Leader Project & The Place Observer |
"The real change in the next years regarding tourism sustainability is going to happen at the destination level."
|Rob Rankin, Managing Director, Vagabond, Small Tours of Ireland |
"Certification is required to ensure that greenwashing does not occur and Tour Operators like ourselves are held accountable to processes and procedures"
|Jovan Popesku, Tourism Professor, Singidunum University, Serbia |
"...Tourist flows lead to the successful renewal of ties among countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia..."
Herman Erdtsieck & Marion Neid, Founders & Owners, MamboViewPoint Ecolodge, Tanzania
Cyril Dion, Writer, Film Director & Eco-activist
Veronika Mikos, Project Coordinator, Healthy Seas
|Robert Travers, International Tourism Expert |
"Development agencies do tend to be quite defensive in terms of post project evaluations at present in my experience, and few agencies widely publish or publicise evaluations. This means that negative evaluations are rare, although intervention failures can be many"
|Fivos Tsaravopoulos, Founder & Manager, Paths of Greece |
"To go fast we walk alone, but to go far, we walk together!"
|Ayako Ezaki, Co-founder, TrainingAid |
"What matters most in learning are people"
|Dan Quilter, Founder, Ecoteer |
"Voluntourism, if managed correctly, can be a very good way to fund genuine projects."
|Roi Ariel, Sustainable Tourism Advisor |
"Little steps can be made to lead us together into a happier and more sustainable world"
|Natali Dologlou, Researcher, MIRC, Greece |
"Ecotourism can open the door to a genuine contact with locals and their culture, which is practically impossible in a more conventional touristic package"
|Agata Zborowska Manager, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, WTTC |
"I personally do not think that you can have sustainability without equality"
|Nuria Chacon, STIPA Estudios Ambientales, Spain |
"The economic crisis has been the perfect time to improve the economic results of big businesses on the backs of salaries and working conditions of workers. This cannot be sustainable tourism"
|Sarah Sitts, NGO Manager, Cambodia |
"My key message to those developing community-based sustainable tourism enterprises anywhere is to maintain strong focus on tourist demand"
|Rob Hirons, Ecolodge Owner, Belize |
"I often think of Belize as, as much of a rainbow nation as one is likely to find!"
|Joe Staiano, Ecotour Operator |
"Vet, vet and vet again. Tour companies need to vet any and all organisations they work with or support with tourist dollars. Tourists need to vet tour companies they use. Ask tough questions. Ask for references!"
|Laura Ell, Ecotourism Consultant |
"Each community requires a customised approach if is to be successful ....a cookie-cutter approach just won't do!"
|Miles Davis, Ecotourism Consultant |
"....international development is increasingly being used as an investment tool by donor countries' governments and is implemented in exchange for favourable deals"
|Vasilis Tsipidis, Administrative Officer, TRAFFIC International |
"Tourism planning cannot be left to the industry to decide, it is sad even to consider such a move. "
|Jim Duff Founder, International Porter Protection Group |
"Walking separately and often kept apart, trekkers would have no idea of.... just how ill they might be when paid off if unable to carry further."
|Sudipta Kiran Sarkar, PhD research candidate, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University |
"I think there needs to be a paradigm shift ...to a view of tourism as a social force that can bring radical transformation of things"
|Julian Ross, Chairman, The Old Crown Co-operative, United Kingdom |
"In my view, the ‘emotional’, ‘romantic’, ‘idealistic’ aspects are crucial. However, if they are not combined with pragmatic economic/commercial viability, they remain just that."
|JoLoyce Hunter-Kaia, B&B Owner-Manager, Hawaii |
"...people today seem to want instant answers, I find that when I get in the car to go call them, they have already booked elsewhere..."
|Ben Box, Editor, South American Handbook |
"It is fair to say that travel book publishers are having a tough time at the moment and in some quarters people are raising the spectre of 'the death of the guidebook'. I think it is far too soon to predict that..."
|Louis Thompson, Eco-designer, Founder & CEO, Nomadic Resorts, Sri Lanka |
"We should not be housing the increasing numbers of environmental refugees in what are essentially boy scout tents when we could make portable homes from recycled materials that could be moved from one disaster area to the next"
|Xavier Font, Director, PhD Programme, ICRETH, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom |
"For years we have talked about when ecolabelling reaches the economies of scale to make a difference, but it has not. The business models for current certification programmes do not add up because the costs of continuously being assessed outweigh the benefits of membership - therefore requiring very low prices or subsidies"
|Massimo Mera, Founder, Kingfisher Ecolodge, Laos |
"...we can clearly see the economic benefits that tourism has brought to the local community thus reducing activities like poaching and logging plus giving a prospect for some community members to create micro businesses..."
|Mark Watson, Executive Director, Tourism Concern |
"Tourism must be founded upon a respect for fundamental human rights, sustainability, equity and social justice"
|Gail Henry, Sustainable Tourism Product Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization |
"I think we are long past the days of colonialism and many tourism-related entities are owned and well-managed by locals."
|Lynn Minnaert, Lecturer, University of Surrey, United Kingdom |
"Social tourism, if it is done well, is certainly socially progressive...On the other hand, the term 'social tourism' is sometimes used too liberally, to justify initiatives that are mainly concerned with the profits and employment levels in the tourism industry"
|Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia, Australia |
"Workers cooperatives and alternative models are a part of the diverse options we need to create better and more sustainable futures."
|C. Michael Hall, Professor, University of Canterbury, New Zealand |
"Trouble is so many institutions from the World Tourism Organization down have adopted neoliberal positions and policies without even adequate considering what their implications might be at various levels, including knowledge generation and diffusion."
|Lidija Mavra, Co-founder, Sock Mob Events/Unseen Tours, United Kingdom |
...our tour model is quite radical / non-hierarchical, the [homeless] guides take most of the money, as opposed to the coordinators/directors taking a salary, and our tours reveal some fairly controversial elements of city life that could go against the grain...
|Agha Iqrar Haroon, Honorary Head, The Region Initiative (TRI), Pakistan |
"Tourism was never allowed to play its role in this region"
|Aviva Pearson, Chairwoman, The Tourism Society, UK |
"Unfortunately, for a majority of destinations, environmental, human rights and other social considerations are an afterthought. They may even have it on paper, but they do not put those policies into practice."
|Raoul Bianchi, Principal Lecturer in Tourism & Leisure, Royal Docks Business School, University of East London, UK |
"The 2008 financial crisis and ensuing sovereign debt crisis, which has engulfed leading tourism economies such as Spain, Portugal and of course Greece, demonstrates both the precariousness of an economic model built on the shifting sands of speculative real estate and tourism industries, as well as the degree to which different economies have become enmeshed within increasingly integrated circuits of capital worldwide."
|Andre Dukhia, Tourism Development Specialist Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario, Canada |
"Community ownership, control and democratic decision-making are extremely important in my view. On the other hand, the private sector is equipped with the knowledge, resources and network to market the communities".
|Tara Gujadhur, Founder, Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, Laos |
"I'd like to see a broader approach to tourism development in Laos that can involve anything from handicraft development, more sophisticated cultural interpretation, environmental initiatives in urban areas, to more creative restaurants and accommodation enterprises".
|Chris Rose, Environmental Campaigner & Consultant |
"...sometimes 'green NGOs' endorse corporate behaviour which should be opposed but generally I don't think that's the major problem. I think a bigger problem is poor campaign design and management which means most NGO campaigns are unlikely to succeed, and governments failing to regulate to protect public goods and the public interest"
|Judy Karwacki, Tourism Entrepreneur, Founder Small Planet Consulting |
"Given that aid funded projects are conceived of and implemented by western entities, the pro-market point of view generally is inherent in them. My point of view is that the projects must be market responsive"
|Kevin Carson, Research Associate, Center for a Stateless Society, Author of "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" |
"I think we'll see the emergence of many thousands of relocalized manufacturing economies that will weather the coming collapse of the old mass production economies and centralised states, much like the rural villas became the building blocks of a new society after the fall of the Western Roman Empire."
|Brian Bender, Author, "Farming Around the Country: An Organic Odyssey" |
"I've never been interested in politics. The whole government looks like a Dr Seuss invention to me: way more parts than necessary to achieve such a lacklustre product. "
|Miriam Ross, Press Officer, Survival International |
"Survival is calling for tourists to boycott Botswana due to the Botswana government's persistent failure to respect the rights of the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve."
|Richard Greeman, Academic, writer and political activist. Author of "Beware of Vegetarian Sharks". |
"Those of us who are privileged to travel in the world should use these opportunities to make and maintain person to person connections with people and organisations in host countries in order to spread information and create links of solidarity."
|Steve Noakes, Executive Director, Pacific Asia Tourism- Adjunct Professor in Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, Australia |
"I would suggest that we have as many national governments as possible fully realise the power (and do something about it) of sustainable tourism to contribute to peace, harmony, respect and tolerance between people and for their own national economic, environmental and social/cultural objectives."
|Victor Ananias, Secretary-General, ECEAT & Chairman Bugday Association, Turkey |
"All strong - successful social movements have been developed from civil, strongly motivated, visionary people's intentions, activities and devotion. When money and funding start to be the dominating-motivating prior tool - there starts the problem."
|Manolis Psarros, Head, Sustainable Tourism Development Department, Greek Sustainable Tourism Organization, ELAGRO, Greece |
"Greek tourism should move from central administration models to
local or regional decentralised administration systems & policies"
|Pascal Languillon, Director, French Ecotourism Association |
"The French government has been very disappointing ...
To put it simply, there are very few specific government policies on tourism and the environment "
|Michael Cramer, MEP, European Green Party, Germany |
"Ecotourism would be ideal for job generation under a Green New Deal."
|Mary Mulvey, CEO, Greenbox, Ireland |
"The region, which was once overshadowed by conflict, is now one of the most peaceful places in Ireland and eleven years on from the Belfast Agreement the destination is in an ideal position to welcome tourists to visit "
|Brian Tokar, Director, Institute for Social Ecology |
"The fundamental problem with tourism today is that it transforms communities and important natural areas toward serving the desires and perceived needs of more affluent people who come to visit from other parts of the world "
Older Ecoclub Interviews
01/2009: Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis, Proprietor, Ionian Eco Villagers & Earth, Sea & Sky, Greece
11/2008: Mr. Brian Mullis, Co-founder & President, Sustainable Travel International, United States
09/2008: Dr. Graham Miller, Senior Lecturer, Surrey University, United Kingdom
09/2008: Dr. Martha Honey, Co-Director, Center on Ecotourism & Sustainable Development, United States
07/2008: Mr. Angus Begg, Photojournalist & Broadcaster, South Africa
07/2008: Dr. Vic Nair, President, APacCHRIE, Malaysia
05/2008: Prof. Kelly Bricker, Director, The International Ecotourism Society, United States
05/2008: Mr. Babu Varghese, Director, Tourindia, Kerala, India
03/2008: Mr. Shams Uddin, Manager, Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism, Pakistan
03/2008: Prof. Habis Samawi, Jordan University, Jordan
01/2008: Mr Aivar Ruukel, Chairman, Estonian Ecotourism Society, Estonia
01/2008: Mr. Mart Reimann, Proprietor, Reimann Retked, Estonia
11/2007: Mr. Gopinath Parayil, Founder, The Blue Yonder, Kerala, India
11/2007: Dr. Rachel Dodds, Assistant Professor, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
09/2007: Ms. Nikki Rose, Principal, Cooking in Crete, Greece
09/2007: Mr. Costas Christ, Judging Chairman, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, USA
08/2007: Prof. Harold Goodwin, International Centre for Responsible Tourism, Leeds, UK
08/2007: Ms. Stella Bell, Business Development Manager, Climate Care, UK
06/2007: Ms. Carol Patterson, Principal, Kalahari Management, Canada
05/2007: Mr. David Sollitt, The International Ecotourism Society, USA
04/2007: Mr. Albert Teo, Director, Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia
03/2007: Ms. Jane Crouch, Responsible Travel Manager, Intrepid Travel, AU
01/2007: Prof. Harris Coccossis, Ministry of Tourism Development, Greece
11/2006: Prof. Michael Romanos, University of Cincinatti, USA
10/2006: Arq. Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, Mexico
09/2006: Ms. Miriam Ross, Survival International, UK
08/2006: Mr. Eugenio Yunis, United Nations World Tourism Organisation
07/2006: Mr. Peter Raines MBE, Coral Cay Conservation, UK
06/2006: Mr. Douglas Hainsworth, SNV, Vietnam
05/2006: Prof. Jim Macbeth, Murdoch University, Australia
04/2006: Ariane Janér, Brazil Sustainable Tourism Program
02/2006: Prof. Trevor Sofield, University of Queensland, Australia
01/2006: Potjana Suansri & Peter Richards, REST, Thailand
12/2005: Agha Iqrar Haroon, President, Ecotourism Society Pakistan
09/2005: Mr. Elliot Helman, San Francisco Green Hotel & Hospitality Initiative
08/2005: Mr. Bodhi Garrett, North Andaman Tsunami Relief, Thailand
07/2005: Mr. Jan Telensky, Environmental Industrialist, Czech Republic
05/2005: Mr. Burkhard Herbote, WorldTourismDirectory.com, Germany
04/2005: Prof. Sarah Graham Mann, Sustainable Tourism Awards 2005, USA
03/2005: Mr. Sami Grover, Editor, Channel View Publications, UK
02/2005: Mr. Bill Tuffin, The Boat Landing Guesthouse, Laos
01/2005: Mr. Louis D'Amore, Founder & President, IIPT
12/2004: Andres Hammerman & Michelle Kirby, Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
11/2004: Mr. Vassilis Kouroutos, MEDASSET
10/2004: Prof. Ralf Buckley, Int. Cent. for Ecotourism Res, Griffith U, Australia
09/2004: Prof. Kreg Lindberg, Oregon State University, USA
08/2004: Mr. Todd Barber, Reef Ball Foundation, USA
05/2004: Mr. Sotiris Kitrilakis, Zante Feast, Greece
04/2004: Mr. Xavier Font, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
03/2004: Mr. Ben Box, Editor, Footprint South American Guide, UK
02/2004: Ms. Cathy Parsons, Green Globe 21, Australia
01/2004: Mr. Andrew Dean Nystrom, Guidebook writer, USA
12/2003: 15 Ecolodge Owners report on 2003
11/2003: Ms. Megan Epler Wood, Director, Epler Wood International, USA
10/2003: Ms. Eleni Svoronou, WWF Greece
09/2003: Sir Patrick Fairweather, Director, The Butrint Foundation, UK-Albania
08/2003: Mr. Frans Stroebel, Director, Peace Parks Foundation
07/2003: Mr. Zoltán Kun, Director, Pan Parks Foundation
05/2003: Prof. Richard Welford, Env. Mgmt Centre, University of Hong Kong
04/2003: Mr. Edward Cameron, EU Commission Env. Governance Initiative
03/2003: Glenn & Trish Warner, Proprietors, Bathurst Inlet Lodge, Canada
02/2003: Prof. Aimilia Drougas, Director, Arion & Delphis, Greece
01/2003: Mr. Jeremy Garrett, Director, NaTour Communications, USA
10/2002: Mr. Chandra De Silva, Director, Ecotourism Society of Sri Lanka
08/2002: Ms. Pam A. Wight, Principal, Pam Wight & Associates, Canada
07/2002: Mr. Vinzenz A. Schmack, Proprietor, La Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica
06/2002: Mr. Artemios Hatziathanassiou, CRES, Greece
05/2002: Dr. Stefanos Fotiou, EKBY, Greece
02/2002: Mr. Ron Mader, Editor, Planeta.com, Mexico