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American Society of Travel Agents
The World's Best Ecotourism Destinations
As ecotourism garners interest among a growing number of travelers, eco resorts have popped up everywhere, from Florida to Fiji. In fact, the ecotourism industry is growing so quickly that it would be nearly impossible to map which countries have become the greatest eco-destinations, especially when the terms "eco" and "green" are thrown around so readily that it can be hard to tell what is genuine and what is simply a marketing ploy. Ecotourism at its heart not only preserves natural habitats and indigenous cultures and species, but actually works in favor of conservation by bringing additional resources that the local economy would otherwise not have, so the applications of the term can be quite different, which makes ranking such locations even more difficult—if not impossible.
Instead of ranking these destinations, NuWire decided to recognize five countries whose efforts in particular realms of ecotourism have gone above and beyond the norm.
Costa Rica: Preserving biodiversity
Perhaps no other country has embraced ecotourism the way that Costa Rica has. While many nearby countries are hoping that industrialization will spur their economies, Costa Rica is managing responsible growth by protecting its environment and its remarkable biodiversity.
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. "Costa Rica is the most biodiverse country on Earth," said Glenn Jampol, who owns two hotels in Costa Rica and serves as president of the Costa Rican chapter of the National Association of Ecotourism (CANAECO) and on the board of "directors for the International Ecotourism Society (TIES). “[It has] more than 6 percent of all species known to exist within its borders."
The country has 527 endangered plant species and 57 animal species that are critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to becoming endangered, including turtles, manatees, toucans, jaguars, primates and sea otters. Fortunately, Costa Rica has established 24 national parks, which span over 21 percent of the country’s land, to protect these species from possible extinction. Visitors can get up close and personal with many of these species while exploring the country’s national parks, rain forests, beaches and volcanoes.
Costa Rica’s reputation as one of the most biologically diverse countries has not only spurred ecotourism, but has also united the country’s government, native communities and private sectors. The popularity of Costa Rica’s natural habitats led to the expansion of protected areas, where logging, poaching and some agricultural activities are now prohibited.
Kenya: Creating alternative fuels
Kenya’s efforts to promote clean energy and sustainability have surpassed those of much larger, wealthier countries. Its ecotourism industry is composed mostly of smaller camps and lodges, many of which have turned to wind and so...
Top 5 Up-and-Coming Ecotourism Destinations
More and more countries are choosing ecotourism as part of their overall economic strategy to tap into the expanding market of a new breed of travelers. These tourists look to eschew the ethical issues related to mainstream travel. They want the environment preserved and local communities to benefit.
While countries such as Costa Rica have successfully marketed themselves as eco-friendly destinations, others are barely noticed. To make it onto our list of the top five up-and-coming ecotourism locations, not only did a destination have to have the natural goods, but it also needed to be relatively unknown. The list is geographically diverse, with topographies ranging from some of the highest untouched mountains in the world to unspoiled desert wonderlands.
The West African country of Gabon, the 2008 set of the CBS TV show Survivor, gained its independence from France almost 50 years ago, and has since then only been ruled by two presidents. Bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, the country enjoys a pristine 550-mile Atlantic coastline. The country, roughly the size of Colorado, has only about 1.5 million inhabitants.
Gabon is home to big game, including elephants and gorillas, as well as 680 bird species With an average population density of four people per square kilometer, the African country of Gabon has 80 percent tree cover and an unspoiled environment that is hard to come by on the continent, according to Ecotourism Gabon. Those looking for big game will not be disappointed. Elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and humpback whales abound. Bird watchers can spend their time trying to spot some of the 680 types of birds that call the country their home. Orchid lovers can revel in discovering the estimated 320 kinds that grow in the nation.
Worried about the depletion of its oil wealth, President Omar Bongo decided in 2002 to convert roughly 11,000 square miles of the country--around 10 percent of the country--into a dozen national parks in an effort to diversify the nation's economy. With the current season of Survivor well underway, the nation's tourism officials hope it will bring much deserved attention to the relatively unknown Gabon, according to MSNBC.
The landlocked country of Laos is squeezed between Burma, Cambodia , China , Thailand and Vietnam. It has officially adopted ecotourism as one of its economic strategies and is eager to grow and become recognized as a destination. The national tourism administration aims to make Laos "a world renowned destination specializing in forms of sustainable tourism," according to the Ecotourism Laos website. However, overshadowed by regional travel blockbusters such as Thailand and Vietnam, Laos is often dubbed the "forgotten" Asia and remains untouched by mass-tourism.
That said, it has a lot to offer to hardy travelers ...
Tulum Offers Jungle Ecotourism And Top Rated Beaches
Jungle home lots in Tulum, Mexico are available at competitive prices, and can come with acres of space minutes from the beach. The rich ecotourism and top rated beaches are part of the appeal of this emerging hot spot. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
Tulum is famous for its beaches. With good cause. They are the finest in Mexico and among the best in the world.
However, Tulum isn’t only about the beach. A couple of clicks inland you find enchanting untouched jungle. Home to thousands of species of birds, butterflies, monkeys and colorful flowers. The jungle floor is dotted with natural wells, large limestone boulders, and jagged outcrops.
Very different to the beach…but like her powder-white sands, you find yourself under this jungle’s spell.
On a recent trip I visited the jungle home of a friend close to Tulum. His house is within a small private subdivision of 20 homes. Large lots with thick vegetation ensure privacy. At night clever lighting of rock formations turns the gardens into a wonderland. Each room in the single story house opens onto a private jungle garden. Flowing water is a feature everywhere. You would know the owner spent time in Asia!
There’s nothing “Tarzan” abut these jungle homes. These are stylish and modern. This home would look in place as a feature in a glossy magazine. The concept is proving popular with wealthy Mexicans in the area. Now North Americans are catching on.
Close by I visited the jungle home under construction owned by an American. Again, this home is in a private subdivision. At 5 acres the lots here are big. Also, completely untouched—giving you a blank canvas. This community is different to my Mexican friend’s.
Off grid, the concept and delivery of the project is about as “eco” as it gets. With more lots, this project will include social focal points like a clubhouse, outdoor theater, and entertainment area.
The center piece of this home is the open plan living, cooking, and dining area upstairs. The functional stuff is all downstairs. Upstairs is for gathering the family and enjoying the views. Perched right at the top of the tree line, fresh breezes keep temperatures comfortable in both indoor and outdoor areas. The views across the canopy are awesome. Bright colored birds call out and come to visit. The build quality is top class. The price for this type of finish is about $80 per square foot.
In the “back yard,” he has taken advantage of a little cave to create a natural amphitheater. This is where he will gather with friends, family and a couple of guitars. A small swimming pool is surrounded by rocky outcrops. Lighting will create a dramatic effect at night. The rock formations and the vegetation do the design work for you. Nature has been working on this design for a lot longer than we have been around.
This jungle home with its own natur...