Tourism will contribute a stunning $5.5 trillion to the global coffers in 2008, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, and that number will likely increase as developing countries open new travel destinations.
Leading the way in these new vacation opportunities is a bold, new initiative: ecotourism. The concept behind this rapidly growing industry is that profits generated by tourism can be used to sustain the local culture and environment--and the vacation should incorporate an appreciation for the local ecosystem.
In that light, the new green Hispanic Business magazine would like to serve up a few examples of these 'no footprint' vacations.
Green Adventures In Costa Rica
About the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has 24 national parks and an incredible variety of natural beauty. At $1 billion a year, tourism is Cost Rica's second-largest source of imported revenue.
The travel agency, Costa Rican Adventures, named by Conde Nast as one the world's best ecotourism operators, offers "experiences for travelers of all ages to personally connect with the natural wonders of the Earth."
In their Edible Adventures in Costa Rica, the company offers a close-up look at samples of sustainable and organic farming. In between visits to rural farmers, indigenous villages, and delectable restaurants, you can hit the numerous beaches, raft some nice Class 3 rivers that run through the rainforests, and, if you are a little daring, you can take to the air on the ziplines that stretch through the cloud forest of Monteverde along 11 lengths of cable. These are experiences to last a lifetime, and you can rest assure that your vacation is preserving and even enhancing the marvels you see.
Green Business In Panama
Ecotourism can further business practices as well. Take the twice-yearly tours offered by Boot Coffee to Panamanian coffee farms. Almost exclusively attended by industry professionals, along with a few coffee aficionados, the three- or four-day tours involve visiting shade-grown coffee farms and seeing the eco-friendly practices of the plantation owners.
Willem Boot, the tour guide and owner of two Panamanian coffee farms, describes them as "ecological farms," which "fully embrace nature without damaging it by growing coffee."
Traditional coffee farmers often raze the forests to grow their crop; Boot's farms operate in harmony with nature--on the edges, in fact, of national parkland. The bird-friendly farms produce a coffee varietal called Geisha Coffee, an Ethiopian transplant that thrives in Panama under these eco-friendly practices. Mr. Boot describes its taste as "floral, with a jasmine aroma, the zest of papaya and lemon, the freshness of tamarind, and a sweet lingering aftertaste." It's a great bonus to the networking opportunities and earth-friendly education you can receive on tours like this.
Ecotourism is in its infancy and will likely continue to gain rapid popularity in the future. Your education, nature's conservation, and maybe a sweet sip or two of Geisha Coffee await.
And, please -- if you find or experience something intriguing on your green vacation, tell us by writing to Hispanic Business' editorial staff.
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