ISSN 1108-8931


Year 5-Issue 53, Oct 2003

Download this issue in PDF Form (400 KB)


Real Ecolodges: What makes one, what it takes to be one

Five Elements ! 
They are clearly stated at and have been our guiding lights. Element 1: Try to minimise your own environmental impact. Science tells us that whatever we do, has an environmental impact. Trying to minimise that impact, to the best of our abilities, is important. The abilities of an affluent lodge in the first world are higher than those of a struggling one in the developing world, so the bar is higher for the affluent one. Element 2. Support environmental conservation and local projects. Supporting can mean active participation, or at least financial support. It certainly can not be just paying lip service. Local, social projects are at least as important as conservation, as without them, conservation ultimately fails. Element 3. Increase environmental & cultural knowledge. Knowledge, and informed, rational choice, rather than blind faith, is the basis of progress. Element 4. Involve the local people as equal partners: How many times, have we rejected an expat application because it just read "we give work to locals", as if this was a favour by the benevolent new arrival. You don't give "them" work, they give their work to you, and you have to show them your respect, starting with a fair pay, fair working hours, then with involving them in decision-making, management and profit-sharing, and why not, with ultimately handing over the Lodge to them. Element 5: Include the less affluent: how? By lower prices for local people, students, elderly, researchers, people with special needs, the poor. It is not only unethical to create a golden prison, it is also idiotic, when it comes to ecolodges, as ecotourists do not need or seek luxury. Lux is the antithesis of eco. Ecotourism should be affordable for all, it should become the mainstream, and not be perceived as a niche for the affluent few. And as with the three musketeers, who were four, there is an implied sixth element: PASSION for people & the environment, in that order, I may add. The picture on our cover, was sent to us by Mr. Peter Pichler, the owner of our Ecolodge Member Pensão Gurué, in Mozambique. Peter has left the Lodge to his mother in law and went to Zimbabwe to help as a Water and Sanitation Engineer, you can read his report on this page. It is just one of the many examples of Ecolodge owners who really care.

So, are we confident that all our Ecolodge Members, fully and always meet all five Elements? It would be a lie to state so. It would be impossible to prove so. In some cases it would be even impossible to do so. Ecotourism, like all things human, is the art of the feasible. People are not robots, mistakes are made, and processes occasionally fail. In the end, what matters is the will to improve, to progress and to act. This is again the meaning of the word "Try".

We at ECOCLUB also want to try to do our small bit, albeit from the comfortable surroundings of cyberspace. The Ecolodge Fund (EEF) is now active, and seeking the best new Ecolodges. After some thought, we have decided to focus the EEF on new, up to 1 Year old, genuine Ecolodges, that are already in operation. The reason is that it is those Ecolodges that need the most support, as they have proven to be serious efforts (and not paper projects). They need moral, financial, and promotional backing so that they can survive and become known. Many international organisations give some funds before hand (sometimes exorbitant), and never follow up. We now wish to close this attention gap. We pledge at least 10% of Supporter Membership revenue, and 10% of Shop profits to this new annual fund. We welcome applications directly from new Ecolodges at The winner (or winners if the funds allow it) will be chosen democratically by our Supporters in June 2004, and announced on July 1, 2004, the fifth anniversary of the founding of ECOCLUB S.A. As always we welcome your input and comments, at the Café ( )

Antonis B. Petropoulos, ECOCLUB Editor

Club News

News from our Ecolodge Members

LAOS: Mr. Bill Tuffin, of The Boat Landing Guesthouse [ ] informs us that the guesthouse was showcased as a best case in a 2-page article in the Pacific Asia Travel Association's (PATA) Compass Publication. Excerpt "The Boat Landing Guesthouse's business model focuses on small-scale local operations and attempts to spread as much economic benefit to the local economy as possible…The Boat Landing has reduced its waste consumption by reusing plastic bags, which are washed and sold at the local market. Scrap paper is reused for taking restaurant orders, and management is looking at ways to produce paper logs for firewood using paper that would otherwise be thrown away. Water bottles and cans are sold to local scrap collectors. Containers are also reused where possible for market purchases, and the storage of food and drinking water. All organic waste is composted and engine oil is reused as a wood preservative and termite deterrent." In addition, The Boat Landing has become the first operation in the world to be "benchmarked" for the second time by Green Globe, a tourism certification body, congratulations !

ZIMBABWE: Mr. Peter Pichler, an Engineer, and Proprietor of Pensão Gurué (Mozambique) [ ] is currently in Zimbabwe working as a Program Manager - Water & Sanitation, for World Vision International's Zimbabwe Relief Operations [ ] He sends us this report from Harare:

Zimbabwe is currently facing a complex emergency as a result of recurrent areas of drought in past seasons and several other contributing factors. Overall macroeconomic decline accelerated dramatically over the past year, indicated by a cumulative decline in GDP of over 24% over the last 3 years, plunging the level of human development in country back to mid-1970s levels. This economic environment has extensively impacted all sectors, including water and sanitation. The macroeconomic decline has impacted the availability and quality of public service provision, especially in primary healthcare, education and water. Hyperinflation, combined with shortages of fuel and foreign currency has eroded the capacity of rural communities and service providers to maintain existing water infrastructure. This, coupled with a low rate of replenishment (limited new boreholes being drilled over the past 3 years), poor maintenance systems, lack of spare parts, erosion of community coping capacity and purchasing power for simple spares, and the effects of low rainfall upon the water table and overuse of aged boreholes, has resulted in an increasing rate of breakdown of existing water points.

According to recent information provided by the District Water Supply and Sanitation Sub-committee and the District Development Fund for the 4 proposed districts, the average rate of breakdown has been accelerating cumulatively at a rate of at least 5% each month. Because of the long distances to water sources, people recycle water and consequently often suffer from skin and other sanitation related diseases. With the current drought, access to safe water is further compromised. Rainfall predicted for the coming season, according to meteorological reports, is expected to be below normal again. This will worsen the current plight of the people. Long distances to water sources, high population to borehole ratios and the prevalence of water-borne diseases are the principal characteristic of these conditions. Due to recurrent drought and input shortages in the area, agricultural production has been limited and food shortages experienced. Apart from being vulnerable to drought, the area's inhabitants are also vulnerable to waterborne diseases due to lack of adequate safe water sources. Common water-borne diseases are diarrhoea, scabies and bilharzia.

Clean water on its own without sanitation and hygiene cannot result in good health through the reduction of diarrhoea diseases. This being the case, there is a need to complement water development with sanitation and hygiene initiatives. Hygiene education greatly improves the impact of water and sanitation interventions, whereas providing toilets alone has been shown to have little or no impact. Participatory methods of hygiene and sanitation promotion are also an effective way of helping communities and households mobilise, plan and carry out their own improvement. It is against this background that World Vision and its partners intend to assist the community to address the water and sanitation problem in various projects. World Vision is currently leading implementing agency with the World Food Program, and the lead agent of the Consortium for Southern Africa Food Emergency (C-SAFE) in partnership with Catholic Relief Services and Care international. World Vision is also currently implementing numerous programmes with funding from the European Commission, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Canadian International Development Agency, United States Agency for International Development, UNICEF among others.

COSTA RICA: Mr. Steve Friedman, Proprietor of Genesis II Ecolodge [ ], is pleased to announce the following two recognitions of its status and programs. On Sunday July 6th, the Miami (Florida) Herald selected Genesis II as one of the two best lodges in Costa Rica - and one of the ten best in the entire Americas!. The September issue of Geographical Magazine (The Royal Geographical Society, U.K.) listed their volunteer programme as one of the ten best in the world. Well deserved !

ECUADOR: Black Sheep Inn [ ] have completed 9 years of successful operation (and almost 3 years as Ecolodge Members). Happy Birthday Andres & Michelle !

New Expert Member

We warmly welcome, Ms Hilary Kuhn, Principal at Lakuna Liaison Ecotourism Consultancy, in Julatten, Queensland, Australia. as a new Expert Member. Ms Kuhn specialises in design and planning for Ecotourism attractions using tools such as natural and cultural resource inventories, Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) to the environment, carrying capacity measures, renewable energy and environmental technologies. She has experience with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander communities in tropical Australia and Papua New Guinea. Ms Kuhn has a Background in marketing of retail and wholesale Ecotours and Ecolodges in tropical Australia. She is also a Sessional Lecturer in Tourism Program at James Cook University, Cairns Campus. Contact Ms Kuhn at

ECOCLUB Team Strengthens

Ms Stella Bell has just joined our team at our Athens office, increasing our expertise in both practical and theoretical aspects of sustainable tourism. Stella holds a BA in Communication Arts & Theatre Studies, and is currently completing an MA in Tourism & Sustainability. She has many years of experience working in the Tourism Industry as an overseas representative for a UK tour operator and has travelled extensively in Africa. You can read Stella's article on seasonality in this issue.



Copyright © 1999-2003 ECOCLUB S.A. All Rights Reserved.