ISSN 1108-8931


Year 5-Issue 58, Mar. 2004


Ben Box, Editor, Footprint South American Handbook

Members News
Laos & Canadian Members in the News.

Eco Focus
Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Ecotourism Planning

Eco Crossword

Plus for our Members:
Jobs, Ecotourism Projects, World News

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Join for access to the Members Edition containing all material and for many more benefits

Next Monthly Live Chat:
Thursday 22 April, 15:00 UTC
Details at

with a pinch of salt)

The future of Costa Rican canopy-tours may now be in the balance because of a patent. In 1998 a Canadian entrepreneur, received a 20-year patent from Costa Rica's Industrial Property Registry for "an elevated forest transport system using harnesses and pulleys on a single horizontal line, using gravity for propulsion." Last spring Hreniuk began to "enforce" his rights. With police and a cease-and-desist order he went to 14 canopy tour operators and tried to close them down unless each agreed to pay at least $75,000 for a franchise.



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ECOCLUB S.A. Although we try to check all facts, we accept no liability for
inaccuracies - which means you should not take any travel or other decisions
based only on what you read here... Use of this newspaper is covered by the Terms & Conditions of the Website and by your uncommon sense and good humour.
Copyright © 1999-2004 ECOCLUB
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The 8th of March issue of the influential New Scientist magazine carried an unusual article that for no apparent reason or event made an unscientific attack of Ecotourism. The attack was also featured on the cover of the magazine. The article's crux was that "Ecotourism adversely impacts wildlife as ecotourism programs are not monitored". The article was reproduced and is still being reproduced by news repeaters all over the world. It seems Ecotourism is such a hot concept, that some believe they can enhance sales by attacking it. We immediately sent this protest to the magazine:

"We wish to complain about New Scientist's not so scientific attack on Ecotourism in your 8th of March issue. The author apparently & totally confused Ecotourism with Nature Tourism. Ecotourism, officially recognised and celebrated by the United Nations in 2002, is a worldwide movement to steer tourism towards a more ecological and equitable direction, and such nihilistic attacks are counter-productive for the cause of conservation. It is like blaming Vegetarians for genetically-modified beef."

I had almost forgotten about this unfortunate article and thought I should not be reproducing its contents in any way, when it was pointed out to me that one of our local mass circulation papers in Athens, had reprinted this story after copying it from a German magazine that had reproduced the original attack! To make matters worse, then came a public attack in a Conference by a Canadian "Ethics" Professor who more or less, accused Ecotourism of "spreading the virus of western capitalism, values and lifestyle". Had I been at that conference, I would have said:

Dear Professor of "Ethics" (Ethics = the philosophical study of moral values - rather than the study of tourism), rest assured that we are not a virus or a trojan, and we do not wish to spread "Western Capitalism" and "lifestyle" as you put it. Rather, we wish to spread change towards a more ecological and equitable society, irrespective of political and cosmological beliefs, because human happiness is more complex than any one-size-fits-all system. Ecotourism advocates, of all people, are well aware and first to talk about the problems and dilemmas of tourism. But a "dilemma" always calls for an "apofasis" (decision), and choosing the lesser of two evils. Because if they don't choose, others will choose for them, as tourism is never the main or the first threat for these communities. The main threat invariably comes from extracting industries - and would they ever be financing ethical Universities?. Genuine, community-owned Ecotourism is the best defense for indigenous communities, except perhaps from hiding with the hope that no one will find them.

No publicity is bad publicity, attacks are most welcome. But, those who try to discredit this broad movement for change in tourism, should really look elsewhere for punchbags, or they will discover Ecotourism is thorny. Our friends in the Ecotourism movement should in turn, consider these attacks as wake-up calls, and should stop being introvert, endlessly arguing about semantics, divisions, funding, and certifications, and deal with the real issues and obstacles of progress.

Antonis B. Petropoulos


Members News

Laos: The Boat Landing Guesthouse co-organised the first clean up day to pick up litter after a 3-day  local festival at That Poum Pouk. The Lodge was also featured in Time, Asia Edition in an article on "Ecotourism without Tears", (Feb 16, 2004) and as an "exemplary Ecolodge" in an Associated Press story from Laos.  In the article, titled "Laos Going for Green", by Dennis D Gray,  Bill Tuffin, the Marketing Director of The Boat Landing Guesthouse (originally from Pueblo Colorado, and a longtime Laos resident), was quoted as saying: " It's all changing very quickly. Ten years ago you could see the Akha in their traditional costumes everywhere. Now, it's almost all gone except deep inside the countryside. Most tourists don't want to leave a big footprint. They want to have that meaningful kind of experience with local people. But it's an art to have tourists going into a village again and again and not have them leave a negative impact."

Canada: Bathurst Inlet Lodge was featured in the March/April 2004 issue of Canadian Geographic (pages 38 thru 56) in an article by the magazine's editor Rick Boychuk on Bathurst Inlet, the home of Bathurst Inlet Lodge and the Kingaunmeot, “People of the Nose”. The extensive article covers all the history of the Bathurst Inlet Lodge as well as the current threats from a planned port development. Characteristic Excerpt: " The year they opened, Trish, a friend and a pilot were flying supplies in
from Yellowknife when they were blown off course. They managed to land on a small lake and spent a week huddled in a tent eating with forks carved from willow sticks" until they were rescued.

New Members

We warmly welcome to two new Ecolodge Members:

Locanda della Valle Nuova in Italy and 3 Rivers in Dominica

and two new Expert Members:

Mr. Louis Korb in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa and
Mr. John Henderson Todd in Scotland, UK.

An Award for! was chosen as one of 4 Winners worldwide, in the "Best Practice Awards in Tourism & Destination Management - Sustainable Tourism Category", by Georgia Tech's Economic Development Institute (USA). Nominations were submitted by tourism and destination management organizations worldwide. The awards aim to help the local, state, national and international tourism and destination management industry adopt successful approaches in the areas of research, funding, professional development, Web marketing and sustainable tourism.
Details Events

Our February Live Chat (26/2) featured Ron Mader of Planeta as a Special Guest, who presented his experiences from organising an innovative rural tourism fair in Oaxaca, Mexico in late January. Ron got the idea for the fair following roundtables with the local tourism industry representatives, artisans, communities and the local authorities, where it was realised that the countryside of Oaxaca was ignored by foreign tourists, mainly due to bad marketing, lack of awareness and information. The fair, not least due to the delicious tamales, was a success and managed to produce some travel bookings and crafts sales, despite a limited presence of foreign tourists in the City at the time. It is hoped that the exercise can be repeated, and also linked to a more permanent on-line expo.

Our March Live Chat (25/3) featured Ben Box, renown Travel writer and Editor of Footprint's South American Travel Guide, who also graces this issue with an Interview.  Please find the complete transcripts of the chat at
and feel free to add your own comments. 
And then as Ben says, "Just go, experience South America, and share with South America what you know, just as South America will share itself with you."



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