ECOCLUB

ISSN 1108-8931

INTERNATIONAL ECOTOURISM MONTHLY

Year 6 - Issue 63

Sponsored by: Zante Feast Holidays, Purple Valley Yoga, Hana Botanical Gardens

Issue Highlights:

Interview
Kreg Lindberg

Eco Focus
Avian tourism in Fiji
Community-based tourism in Ecuador
South Padre Island, Texas
Solar Cells

Member News
from Jamaica, USA, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Belize, India, Australia, France

Eco Crossword
The Solar one

Plus for our Members
Jobs, Eco Projects & Finance, World News

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EDITORIAL:  Definitions, Urban beauty & the eye of the beholder.

This September, ECOCLUB co-sponsored the first Urban Ecotourism Conference, as we feel that Urban Ecotourism, in more ways than one, can be more ecological than what often passes as Ecotourism.

It is annoying to read the 'official' long-winded definitions of Ecotourism starting with 'Ecotourism is travel to natural areas'. This could not be more irrelevant. Ecotourism, is ecological tourism, period. And thus, it covers urban areas just as well. Urban areas after all are not unnatural, they already go back 10,000 years. Urban areas are usually more efficient, and can become even more so, in terms of consumption of raw materials and production of raw ideas. Urban areas are where all new ideas are born and where most revolutions begin. Not to mention that most Ecotourists live in urban areas. They say charity begins at home, and so does Ecotourism.

So can urban be eco? Of course: Isn't it far more ecological to take a 6 km walk in the urban jungle of your city on a Sunday morning and meet friends rather than to drive alone your suv through a national park some 200 km away to be isolated in the 'wilderness'? But if many would believe so, what would happen to all those glossy tourism mags, their adventure gear, cars and other so useful accessories that make 'beautiful life' for 'beautiful' people, the very people you are not likely to meet in your down town stroll?

'Urban' may not only define ecotourism in terms of geography, but in terms of philosophy as well, as "urban" stands for fusing cultures, for constant change. Most urban centres are nowadays poles of globalisation where tradition and natural areas are harder to define.

There is obviously a conceptual line between green living and green tourism. Home is Living, Tourism is Leaving. We could thus say that Urban Ecotourism is Ecological Tourism that takes place within a city (as opposed to in nearby natural areas). As a phenomenon, it includes those visiting, (as opposed to living in), a city for tourism, and those people, organisations, processes and facilities that serve them, as long as the same basic ecotourism criteria that apply for rural areas are met.

In practice and beyond definitions, you can never and nowhere be far from nature and its anarchic manifestations: A pigeon freed during the Athens Olympics opening ceremony was found a few days later by a farmer in the village of Racoasa in central Romania, over 1000 km north. Most would admire the beauty of nature and human kindness right? Wrong, what the farmer then did was to create a beautiful cage for the athletic pigeon.

Whereas at the Olympics closing ceremony something else was freed: thousands of colourful balloons. Most admired, some worried about the cost, but few thought like the wildlife rehabilitator who asked one of our Experts: "How can the Olympics be o.k. with releasing over 1/4 million balloons at it's closing ceremonies. The marine life will suffer from this careless act. I am shocked that this was overlooked."

Indeed, but the sad(?) truth is that it is so difficult for anyone to be shocked by anything these days.

Antonis B. Petropoulos
ECOCLUB Editor

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