Washington, DC – Building ecotourism capacity within destinations around the world is the main theme for the 2014 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC 14) being held in Bonito, Brazil April 27-30, 2014, says The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)`s chair, Kelly Bricker, and representatives for destinations and tourism operations looking to build their reputation for ecotourism experiences are encouraged to register.
“Providing travelers with tourism options that are sustainable and follow the principles of ecotourism is no longer an option, it is an expectation,” says Bricker . “For over 24 years TIES has been then driving force behind providing the skills, training and academic resources for creating policies and establishing authentic ecotourism practices in global destinations.”
The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC 14), now in its eighth year, is TIES’ annual conference. A leading platform for industry stakeholders engaged in ecotourism and sustainable tourism, the ESTC 14 aims to strengthen commitment to the recent UN resolution, “Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection”, which recognizes tourism’s role in sustainable community development efforts, and features ideas, opportunities and solutions for the tourism industry to assist in conserving natural areas, alleviating poverty, empowering women, enhancing education, and improving the health and well-being of local communities.”
Workshops, plenary sessions, and seminars will cover such topics as:
Creating a Sense of Place – through interpretation, design, experiences, marketing and communications
Conserving & Protecting Place – understanding conservation, communities and governance, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Managing Destination Places – incorporating sustainable practices into supply chains, financing, economics and tools i.e. certification
Sustaining Places – through planning, crisis management, monitoring and life-cycle planning.
Also presenting are the owners and operators from renowned pioneering ecolodges like Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge and Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Resort (Costa Rica), Feynan Ecolodge ( Jordan) , along with thought leaders and experts like Hitesh Mehta, one of the world’s leading authorities, practitioners and researchers on holistic eco-planning and eco-design, and both the landscape architectural and architectural aspects of ecolodges. National Geographic Adventure magazine identified Mehta as one of five Sustainable Tourism Pioneers in the world.
“As well as attracting ecotourism leaders from around the world, we are anticipating a significant contingent of ecotourism pioneers from Brazil and its South American neighbors who will join us to share best practices and build even stronger partnerships,” says Bricker.
In addition to networking with and learning from these leaders, delegates will benefit from the unique opportunity that the ESTC14 offers to enhance all aspects of sustainability practices:
Build a solid understanding of the fundamentals of ecolodges, through a special training seminar led by Mehta.
Gain an insight into the latest in design methods, green technologies, and business approaches for accommodations through technical sessions featuring case studies from around the world.
Find inspiration and practical lessons to help improve tourism business operations – from successful partnership strategies for destinations to key consumer trends in emerging destinations and best practices for media relations strategies.
Learn about the destination partnership programs by The Global Sustainable Tourism Council
Registration for ESTC 14 is US$495.00 for members and US$595.00 for non members. To learn more about ESTC14 and to register, people may visit: http://www.ecotourismconference.org.
The full conference program takes place in Bonito (or ‘beautiful’ in Portuguese) also known as the capital of ecotourism in Brazil. Located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Bonito is part of the Serra da Bodoquena, a carbonate plateau on the southeastern border of the Pantanal. The wildlife is abundant and diverse due to the location of Bonito on a tri-junction of three major biomes of Brazil : the Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna),Pantanal (wetlands wilderness) and the Atlantic Rainforest. In 2013 Bonito was honoured with a World Responsible Tourism Award at the World Travel Mart in London.
A key tool to the sustainable management of Bonito is the voucher system. Access to all natural attractions is controlled by a voucher, which are emitted by travel agencies. Natural attractions have a carrying capacity established and this dictates the maximum number of vouchers that can be sold per day. All attractions need to have an environmental license and the municipality employs biologists and geologists to evaluate environmental impacts. All tours must have an accredited guide specialized in nature tours. The voucher also ensures economic cooperation in the tourism supply chain. The precise statistics are used for remunerating guides, collecting taxes and destination planning. The voucher system was created in 1995, well before tourism took off. This foresight of the tourism pioneers now reaps Bonito huge rewards : optimizing visitor enjoyment, economic benefits and minimizing environmental impacts. And Bonito still has a stock of attractions not open to the public yet.