Small Farms – Big Impact

The California Small Farm Conference (CSFC) began March 6th with field courses taking attendees out to local farms, markets and businesses to discover Sacramento County’s best agricultural opportunities and practices. Despite the rain, the bright spots of the 2016 field courses included tours of: Natomas Unified School District’s food service program, Yisrael Family Urban Farm, and Sacramento Farmers’ Market at 8th and W. Sacramento is widely acknowledged as America’s Farm-To-Fork Capital.

This conference is the state’s premier gathering for small-scale farmers, ranchers, and farmers’ market managers. The goal is to promote the success and viability of small farming operations and certified farmers’ markets through short courses, tours and workshops, and this year’s conference gave a lot of focus to Farmers Markets, Farm-to-Fork initiatives, Farmer Veteran Coalition and Homegrown by Heroes programs, and developing technologies to assist farms.

As of August 2015, 8,476 farmers markets were listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a 2.5 percent increase from 2014. This growth has been sustained for years now, as more and more people choose to purchase their produce directly from the farms growing them.

Manage My Market, an online tool for farmers markets, helps by eliminating paperwork, streamlining management tasks, and includes unique features for helping to grow the sales aspect.

With the release of a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance which states that children’s vegetable consumption is at a measly 4%, this conference provided a way forward to help young Americans get in the know about nutrition, where their food comes from, and hopefully introduce some to a very rewarding future alongside agriculture.

Farmers, ranchers, and students congregate for a demonstration

EcoFarm 36 “Regenerating our Lands and Water”

Farmers, ranchers, and students congregate for a demonstration

The 36th annual EcoFarm conference wrapped up this weekend after four days of panels, workshops and plenary sessions and was attended by over 2,000 farmers, ranchers, other professionals and 180 scholars on scholarships.

The need for an ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable food and farming system has never been more urgent. The work of EcoFarmers has never been more needed or more relevant to the major issues —from reversing climate change to improving human health. Many answers to the problems inherent in the extractive, chemically intensive, conventional agricultural model can be found within the ecological and organic approaches that EcoFarm works to champion.

This year’s conference theme was all about regenerating our lands, water, communities, and planet.

Workshops and individual consulting covered a diverse group of topics:
Farm Marketing Clinic
Soil carbon sequestration workshop
USDA programs
B corporations
Food safety and
an annual Seed and Scion Swap

One of the primary sponsors, Blue Apron, a company that delivers meal kits, hosted a talk and reception regarding the opportunities for organize farmers to become suppliers to their meals. Blue Apron stands out for their efforts to sustainably source as much as possible of their meal ingredients and to buy organic whenever they can.

The conference attendees were themselves nourished by delicious organic meals crafted with ingredients from over 90 farmers and producers, and prepared by Asilomar’s prize winning chefs. For many farmers and ranchers, EcoFarm Conference is the one time of year when they leave their farms for a few days to connect with their peers and regenerate.

Amongst the books and films debuting at the conference was “The Good Company: Sustainability in Hospitality, Tourism and Wine” the author presented on a panel discussion about Agritourism – a timely topic today as the sharing economy reaches the farm.

Ultra-rocking bluegrass band “Hot Buttered Rum” played dancing music till the wee small hours but folks still found energy to join Save our Shores for a cleanup at iconic Asilomar Beach.

The 2015 Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference

First Nation canoe from Takaya Tours

The 2015 Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference

The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance are the custodians of the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference (PAITC), hosted this year and beginning September 12 in the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and in partnership with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC).

PAITC will focus on the international opportunity for engagement and sharing by all peoples who have an interest in promoting, implementing and celebrating achievements in fostering Indigenous self-determination through participation in tourism. This focus is consistent with the principles of the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism, which was adopted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012. It represents the most important statement of commitment from the tourism sector that it intends to take on an active role in giving practical effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Acclaimed speakers at this year’s conference include Dr. Wade Davis of the National Geographic Society, Chris Bottrill on the PATA Human Capital Development Committee, and Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures. “Indigenous tourism is very important to indigenous peoples,” said Johnny Edmonds, secretariat coordinator for World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, an indigenous-led advocacy nonprofit. “It provides them with the opportunity for self-determination and is typically associated with activity in which indigenous people are directly involved through control and/or by enabling their culture to serve as the essence of the attraction.”

A visit to British Columbia is not complete without at least one Aboriginal tourism experience. BC’s Aboriginal tourism industry has some of the most diverse and best developed operators in the world, especially when it comes to indigenous cultural tourism. The range of First Nation experiences available to visitors, which can last a week, a day or a few hours, is thanks to the passion and dedication of so many First Nations tourism operators and communities.
Vancouver itself is home to the recently opened Skwachays Lodge an excellent example of indigenous tourism that’s accessible but also authentic. Filled with art as social enterprise, some by artists in residence, and topped by a 40′ totem pole the boutiques hotel has a big wow factor. The Bill Reid Gallery and several world class museums (MOA,MCC,MOV) also feature culturally highly significant works And artifacts regarded by the First Nations here as belongings of their heritage.

The farm and sea to table First nation Cuisine of Salmon’n’ Bannock restaurant is another delicious facet of the experience. Examples of some groups that ensure genuine experiences include Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC), Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council, Indigenous New Zealand and American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. All have websites that provide itinerary planning and booking tools for various indigenous tourism experiences.

“When people say they want an authentic travel experience, there’s nothing truer than those of indigenous origin. They are the original guides; they know the land better than anyone else,” says Kate Rogers who works with ATBC on media.

Ecotourism succeeds through hot springs

EcoGo - Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs and Resort - Ecuador

Pamela Lanier heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and She authored an article about sustainable tourism development in a protected cloud forest. Recently the IUCN-WCPA Mountain Biome network published this success story, and EcoGo is pleased to share it with a wider audience here. 

Mountain Protected Area Update (September, 2015)

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional and Hot Springs Ecotourism, Poised at 3,300 meters

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands as a doorway to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Acting as a wildlife corridor for animals such as the spectacled bear, white-tailed deer, culpeo, tapir, and the Andean condor, Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve is composed of almost a million acres (400,000 hectares) of protected land. Located in the high mountain cloud forest, temperatures tend toward cold and wet, especially in winter. Annual rainfall is from 500 to 3,000 meters.

Visitor activities include trekking, mountaineering, sport fishing, camping, mountain biking, guided nature hikes or self-guided along footpaths, and ecological observation and education of the unique flora and fauna of the area. For those wanting comfort, an eco-resort is located on the upper and outer edge of the park. Termas de Papallacta Hot Springs Spa & Resort includes a hotel with 32 rooms, 13 cabins which can be either one- or two-storied, and a convention center. Each hotel room is heated and has a private bathroom, while the cabins are ideal for families, offering a warm and welcoming environment with a fireplace in each living room. The Spa features thermal waters, pools, and an assortment of private treatments.

Due to its proximity to Quito, this is one of Ecuador’s most utilized National Parks. There is a community spa and swimming pool that is priced for and extensively used by the locals. The conference center also doubles as a learning space for school and other civic groups. A marvelous exhibition garden with carefully labeled fruits, veggies and herbs and a small dairy operation are located nearby, and both are frequently toured by Quito children on school outings.

Termas de Papallacta carries historical achievements as well, such as being the first Health Spa ever approved by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health for the study, use, and therapeutic applications of its thermal waters, and the first Spa & Resort in mainland Ecuador to receive the Smart Voyager sustainable tourism certification. The country of Ecuador is the first in South America to adopt and be accepted into the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s “Country Certification Program.”

Cayambe-Coca Parque Nacional stands out as a very well integrated and utilized national park, both for mountain aficionados, local residents, and adventurous travelers alike. After all, where else can one luxuriate in natural hot springs in the morning, and have dinner that evening at a cloud forest ecolodge?

PATA contest: market your travel destination

EcoGo - Asian Travel Contest - PATA CEO Challenge

Are you involved in Asian tourism? Do you help manage and promote a region, city or destination anywhere in Asia? Do you support sustainable tourism practices? Then reach for the the stars and submit your application by October 1st to the Pacific Asian Travel Association’s CEO Challenge 2015. With the chance of winning $500,000 in marketing support, here’s more about the contest entry.

PATA and TripAdvisor

PATA and TripAdvisor are motivated to promote Asia-Pacific travel, and make a strong team to encourage responsible, sustainable tourism growth. We would like to introduce these organizations:

Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organisations, and has 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. It is currently headquartered in Bangkok.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy decided to launch this contest for members and non-member travel destinations. Representatives from these places must show how marketing campaigns contribute to sustainable growth of tourism to their destinations and economic empowerment to their communities. PATA will award two new and emerging destinations, by shining a bright marketing light on them.

TripAdvisor will deliver digital marketing advice and promotion to the award winners. As the world’s largest travel site, their aim is to support emerging destinations across the globe to showcase their destination’s story and myriad of tourism products.

TripAdvisor experts will work with the destinations by: (1) guiding winners in how travelers across the globe are now inspired, research, plan and ultimately book online; (2) helping destinations to ensure they are utilizing the digital environment to encourage travelers to visit; and (3) getting small and local businesses listed on TripAdvisor.

Contest Rewards and Benefits

The PATA CEO challenge offers contests leading to two winners. Each submission requires entry fees as well as a completed application by October 1, 2015. Here are the rewards and marketing benefits:

  • Digital marketing campaign worth $500,000, presented to the winning entry in TWO categories:  (1) State, region and provine (i.e. Shandgon in China PRC, Western Australia, Albay in the Philippines and (2) Second tier and third tier towns/cities (i.e. Chiang Rai in Thailand, Guilin in China PRC, Legazpi in the Philippines
  • TripAdvisor will work with winners to develop a digital campaign with the assets provided by the winning entrants. Each entrant will have the support of a dedicated team at TripAdvisor who will work with them in the planning and structuring of a digital marketing campaign. Each entrant will need to prepare a set of items and present their destination’s tourism assets. Each destination will need to showcase what products within their destination have a special story for the global traveler.
  • Winners (one representative from each category) will be presented the PATA CEO Challenge Top Destination Award during the award ceremony at the PATA Aligned Advocacy Dinner on November 2, 2015 in London, United Kingdom, prior to World Travel Market 2015. The dinner will be attended by hundreds of industry professionals and guests.
  • Winners of all categories will receive exposure in the following PATA Communications channels:  PATA Conversations (PATA monthly e-magazines; PATA Voice (PATA weekly e-newsletters); PATA press releases distributed to worldwide media; PATA website; and PATA Social Media Channels.
  • Winners (one representative from each category) receives a complimentary pass to the PATA Annual Summit 2016 in Guam on May 18 – 21. Winners are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.
  • The winning entries receive free stand space (standard shell scheme booth) at the PATA Travel Mart 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 7 – 9, with a complimentary PTM pass for one seller. Winners are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.
  • The PATA CEO Challenge Top destination logo is provided to the winners in both categories for use in collateral and promotional materials, websites and other communications channels.

Good luck to all who apply!


Sustainable enterprise conference works!

EcoGo - Sustainable Enterprise Conference - Sustainable North Bay - by Christine Walker supports sustainability education taking place globally, including our San Francisco Bay home base. Pamela Lanier, who heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and, reports on the successful Sustainable Enterprise Conference in Sonoma County, CA.

Sustainable North Bay leads 10th annual event

The annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference, presented by Sustainable North Bay, took place on April 30th, 2015. It was a daylong collaborative effort focused on how sustainable and eco-minded businesses promote success. Besides the long and short term financial benefits of green business practices, there was an emphasis on developing social prosperity and environmental awareness.

This enthusiastically attended event served as a platform to showcase creative business ideas that are relevant in Sonoma County, a place where communities are committed to sustainability. Over 50 exhibitors and 48 speakers provided valuable information and insight to more than three hundred fifty attendees. Speaking topics included ideas about efficiency, developing local programs, and thinking innovatively.

Industry speakers share expertise

Two keynote speakers addressed “Capital for a Sustainable Future,” this year’s theme. In addition, wide-ranging sustainable resource topics were discussed by experts:

  • Keynoter Kat Taylor, CEO of Beneficial State Bank — socially responsible banking
  • Keynoter Marco Vangelisti, Founder of Essential Knowledge for Transition — slow money investments with communities and large foundations
  • Somo Event Center Welcome Speaker — Professor Robert Girling, Ph.D., Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, Sonoma State University, Co-organizer of the Sustainable Enterprise Conference and the Future Makers Sustainable North Bay Youth Summit
  • Water and the Future — Cordel Stillman, Deputy Chief Engineer of Sonoma County Water Agency, and Eppa Rixley, Strategic Planning Manager of Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Clean Energy for a Sustainable Future — Bill Stewart, President of Solarcraft, and Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power
  • Traditional Medicinals — Blair Kellison, CEO of Traditional Medicinals
Sustainable businesses host and participate

The Conference was held, appropriately, at Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park, a One Planet Community which is constructed sustainably and maintained and powered with clean energy. This tangible place, with realized eco-building and community, complemented the like-minded conference.

Sonoma Mountain Village is just one of many innovative North Bay businesses. The Barlow offers a unique shopping experience, where resident artisans, farm-to-table restaurants, and local wine, coffee and beer makers have come together under the banner of green business. Others, such as All Truss in Sonoma, an FSC-certified business, are leading the way in the resurgence of the building industry in the North Bay. It takes many industry sectors working together to create a truly sustainable environment.

Other Sonoma County businesses shared their success stories:

  • Bioregional One Planet Living — Pooran Desai, Co-founder
  • The Sonoma Green Business Program — Kevin Kumataka, Coordinator
  • The Food Business School — William Rosenzweig, Dean and Executive Director
Event supports future best practices

Several ancillary events encouraged momentum and a circulation of information that encouraged and promoted networking, shared insight, and support. The iHub Enterprise Accelerator held a three-hour workshop for executives and active entrepreneurs, offering information such as how to attract finances and develop stakeholder commitments.

In addition, student leaders were given an opportunity to share their visions at the Future Makers Sustainable North Bay Youth Summit. This first-ever summit was led by Kellen Watson, from Daily Acts, and Jenise Granvold, of Solar Sonoma County. As a conduit for positive change, it was a spearhead for future events of this kind.

The Conference has proven to be a place where information can blossom and reach the noses of innovative businesses, entrepreneurs, and interested consumers. Creating sustainable business enterprises is a reasonable and admirable way to address issues like greenhouse gases and carbon pricing and create solutions that work for the North Bay business community — and our stunning, precious natural environment.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Felicia McFall, summer intern with Santa Rosa JC, and EcoGo editor Jessica Hughes.

Spotlight on Pacific Asia Indigenous tourism

EcoGo - Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism and Trade Conference - PAITC 2015

Pamela Lanier, who heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and, will be sharing eco-travel drivers and sustainable best practices at the upcoming Pacific Asia Indigenous and Tourism Trade Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia this September. In this Pacific Asia meeting she will discuss how to attract more visitors to Indigenous-owned properties and tours, by taking full advantage of the all the local natural and cultural resources which also appeal to visitors. Here is the conference announcement.

Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism & Trade Conference 2015

International expert speakers selected

The Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC and the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) have selected a range of international expert speakers and panelists to present at the second Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism & Trade Conference – taking place Sept. 12 – 14, 2015 in Vancouver, BC.

Speakers for the second Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism & Trade Conference include:

Conference lectures, panels, and plenary sessions will examine topics such as: case studies for successful partnerships in Indigenous tourism, winning formulas in eco-cultural tourism, and best practices to work in the Pacific-Asia marketplace. Those interested in attending may register for the conference at PAITC2015. Early bird registration pricing starts at $550 for small businesses ($330 for students) and is available before Aug. 7, 2015.

Aboriginal Tourism BC welcomes participants

“We are excited to announce that representatives from Canada, the United States, Chile, Australia and New Zealand will be addressing conference attendees, providing insight into the growth of Aboriginal tourism,” says Keith Henry, CEO of Aboriginal Tourism BC, and host partner for the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism & Trade Conference. “Interest in Aboriginal tourism continues to expand on a global scale, and the tourism industry of British Columbia serves as an excellent catalyst for Aboriginal tourism products and experiences, helping to position our Aboriginal stakeholders as industry leaders.”

The host province of British Columbia,  home to one third of Canada’s First Nations and the second largest Indigenous population, has experienced strong growth in Aboriginal tourism over the past decade. In 2010, 3.7 million visitors included Aboriginal experiences on their itineraries and spent $40 million learning about and experiencing First Nations culture. This represents nearly 100 per cent growth since 2006. Today there are more than 200 Aboriginal tourism businesses in BC, an 85 per cent increase over 2006, which together contributes $561 million in value added GDP.

Conference fosters Indigenous tourism

The second Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism & Trade Conference (PAITC2015) will focus on the international opportunity for engagement and sharing by all peoples who have an interest in promoting, implementing and celebrating achievements — by fostering Indigenous self-determination through participation in tourism.

This Indigenous focus is consistent with the principles of the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism (PDF), which was adopted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012. It represents the most important statement of commitment from the tourism sector that it intends to take on an active role in giving practical effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PDF).

About Aboriginal Tourism BC:  The Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (AtBC) is a non-profit, stakeholder-based organization that is committed to growing and promoting a sustainable, culturally rich Aboriginal tourism industry. Through training, information resources, networking opportunities and co-operative marketing programs, AtBC is a one-stop resource for Aboriginal entrepreneurs and communities in British Columbia who are operating or looking to start a tourism business. AtBC works closely with tourism, business, education and government organizations to help BC’s Aboriginal tourism businesses offer quality experiences and actively promotes these experiences to visitors and local residents.

About WINTA:  The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) is an Indigenous-led global network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous interests that seek to give practical expression to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through tourism. WINTA collaborates with Indigenous communities, tourism industry entities, states, and NGOs which have an interest in addressing the aspirations of Indigenous peoples seeking empowerment through tourism and producing mutually beneficial outcomes. WINTA undertakes tourism policy research, organizes tourism conferences and workshops, and provides strategic destination consulting services.

Countries share sustainable travel wins

EcoGo - TIES Quito - Speaker Pamela Lanier

Pamela Lanier heads the Friends of Sustainable Tourism International (FOSTI) and She presented eco-lodging best practices at a recent industry conference, hosted by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). We report her news and findings below.

Conference that educates

The 10th Annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), held in Quito, Ecuador last week, was a resounding success. Some 500 delegates attended from 30 participating countries, and shared industry practices and achievements in sustainable tourism.

Educational sessions led by noted speakers in the field focused on sustainable destinations and community empowerment; biodiversity conservation; and ecotourism and sustainable tourism guidelines, certifications and development strategies.

Ecotourism conference insights

Ecotourism is a popular consumer option. Demand is growing quickly, economic gains are real, and ecosystems get preserved. Here are several insights from the conference.

  • Top growing ecotourism sector:  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)  pointed out that ecotourism is the number one growing sector of travel and truly represents the future of tourism because “we will have to visit nature as a museum if we don’t take care of it now.”
  • Improved economic returns:  Irene Lane of Greenloons presented the results of a study which highlighted the improved ROI of Irish ecotourism participants on The Wild Atlantic Way, after all economic factors were considered including (and beyond) direct operational expenses.
  • Namibia’s impressive conservation:  Another presentation highlighted Namibia’s phenomenal economic and environmental resurgence. Driven by community conservancies, some 44 percent of the land is now under conservation management — and the populations of lions and zebra have surged.

Ecuador gets just rewards

At the conference, Ecuador was recognized for its achievements. The country has long been regarded as a green growth leader, partnering with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to create standards for sustainable travel. GSTC Chairman Luigi Cabrini conferred the mark of “Recognition” on Ecuador, which fully adheres to universal standards. He presented a plaque to Sandra Naranjo, Ecuador’s tourism minister.

Ecuador had already become the first country in the world to solidify the Rights of Nature. In 2008, its Constitution recognized the inalienable rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish — giving people the authority to petition on the behalf of ecosystems and requiring the government to remedy violations of these rights.

Extra perks for attendees

When in Ecuador, appreciate Ecuador! Conference delegates raved about the fantastic, healthy farm-to-table cuisine presented by local college and culinary academy students along with top chefs. The cocoa grower associations also provided 12 distinctly different chocolate bars for an extensive, interpretive tasting.

For the adventurous, Napo Wildlife Center led a high altitude trip to observe avian and other wildlife in the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. This park covers 1,430 square miles, including Volcán Cayambe and ten ecological zones.

Celebrating aboriginal tourism in Quebec

EcoGo - Swimming Caribou - Indigenous site Mushuau-nipi

Among eco-travelers, one pinnacle experience is visiting aboriginals in an authentic fashion. There’s a desire to connect with locals, traditions, wildlife and the environment while having some creature comforts at hand. In response, locals are often interested in sharing their traditions and creating economic upsides. EcoGo applauds opportunities for aboriginals and their travel partners to develop eco-travel business.

Annual International Aboriginal Tourism Conference (IATC)

Nearly 350 aboriginal tourism industry players, including half from abroad, gathered in Quebec City, Canada on March 24-25th to discuss their unique efforts and challenges. Hosted by the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), the attendees and WINTA leaders declared this meeting a great success.

Quebec leaders kicked off the show

Chief Ghislain Picard, of The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), served as honorary host and focused on themes such as authenticity, marketing and preferred destinations. Quebec’s minister of tourism, Dominique Vien, also welcomed over 40 top speakers and global leaders and congratulated Quebec Aboriginal Tourism (QAT) for the terrific job they did in organizing and leading this landmark conference.

Traditions night honored locals

One of the most inspiring events showcased the dynamic, local, aboriginal tourism and history in Quebec, while a gala for entrepreneurship recognition closed the conference on a very exciting note. Among the full list of winners, here are selected awardees:

Next aboriginal conference:  The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) and the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (Aboriginal Tourism BC) will present the 2nd Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference (PAITC 2015) in Vancouver, from September 12-14th, 2015. FOSTI director Pamela Lanier will be participating in this conference.

Ecotourism pros to talk shop in Ecuador

EcoGo - Ecuador Travel - Galapagos - 3-25-15
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) provides global knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation and sustainable travel. Professional and organizational members hail from 135 countries, and individual travelers may join free. Next month, ecotourism pros will talk shop while visiting Ecuador.

The Society holds its international conference, the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), in Quito, Ecuador from April 27th to 30th 2015 with a record turnout of members and registered participants. ESTC conferences have always been held in outstanding ecodestinations around the world, including Oslo, Bar Harbour, Vancouver, Nairobi, Monterey, and Bonito and this year Ecuador is no exception.

TIES Chair, Dr. Kelly Bricker says Ecuador was chosen because [it] “epitomizes ecotourism and sustainable tourism — every destination in the country has a terrific story to tell…from the work within national parks, to the engagement of local communities, there are numerous champions of sustainability at its best.”

Of special note, this year’s ESTC will also feature Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Sandra Naranjo. ESTC is very excited to feature Ms. Naranjo, the first sitting Minister of Tourism to deliver a keynote address at a TIES conference. Her vision is to utilize tourism as an economic instrument to achieve sustainable development, something ESTC delegates will hear more about during the conference.

Founded in 1990, TIES is the largest and oldest ecotourism society in the world, with over 14,000 members. Since 2005, TIES has hosted the ESTC, offering international tourism professionals, conservation groups, academicians, and government the opportunity to network and share best practices in a supportive setting, while experiencing the ecotourism and sustainable tourism initiatives of the host destination.

Building on previous conferences, ESTC15 in Quito is expected to expand up to 500 attendees, having grown significantly every year since 2011. The benefits have increased as well, as this year there will be numerous low-cost field sessions, sponsored tours, and workshops.

Oliver Hillel, Program Officer at Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity, commented, “The ESTC provides global players with the best venue to discuss joint proposals and projects, and network with the best practitioners all over the world. The width of the issues discussed, the diversity of skills and experiences of participants, and the innovative solutions shared make it a reference and a watering hole for professionals trying to make a difference in the competitive and growing fields of ecotourism and sustainable tourism.”

Focusing on ecotourism’s role in sustainable development, the ESTC aims to strengthen the tourism industry’s commitment on global positive impact. The conference program will highlight ideas for conserving natural areas, alleviating poverty, empowering women, enhancing education, and improving the well-being of local communities.

TIES is committed to promoting responsible tourism practices that benefit conservation and communities. Our global network spans over 135 countries, with members who are leading the vital efforts to make travel and tourism more sustainable.