Has Carnival Cruises Become The Mother Ship Of Responsible Travel?

16 06 2015

Conserve Tourism

I think it’s fair to say that large ship cruises are currently one of the undisputed champions of irresponsible tourism. This made it even more surprising when Carnival Corporation announced last week that they are stepping down from the podiums top spot and entering the world of responsible tourism. I had to double check it wasn’t April 1st before I believed it. At first I was pleased, perhaps they have finally given in to the long list of campaigns and criticisms to become more responsible! However, when a company that was voted 3rd in the top ten corporate criminals list just last year suddenly decides to become the next power house for ‘sustained and long lasting positive impact’, alarm bells started ringing and concerns start to bubble up.

However, I have previously suggested that perhaps it’s time to work with the irresponsible companies to improve their approaches to tourism rather than fighting them. Nobody can deny that if cruises were responsible…

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How To Make Holiday Companies Desperate for Responsible Tourism

27 05 2015

Selling responsible travel is like selling vitamins to improve your life. This article approaches the question as to why so few companies have yet to adopt the practice.

Conserve Tourism

I am still unsure whether holiday companies have grasped the idea that responsible tourism is essential if they are going to keep their heads above the water. Profitability is always the best way to convince holiday companies that responsible tourism is a sensible addition to their products. For example, it provides a competitive advantage and is making its way into holiday itineraries. However, responsible tourism isn’t essential for business but rather an additional cost or a bit of a pain (so much so that many pay other companies to increase their responsible tourism credentials through tokenistic schemes like carbon offsetting) and it is also a lot of extra work for little return. So how do we make responsible travel indispensable?

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Community Tourism Project in Panama

16 07 2014

My friend Annie Young from Ecocircuitos in Panama recently published a story on her log about a new community development project in Panama city. You can read about it here.

Nicaragua Solar Project

20 04 2010

We are very happy to be working on a program with the Solar Women of Totogalpa in Nicaragua where we bring a small group of people from North America to a remote village in the Central American highlands.

We have partnered with a local NGO and a Nicaraguan tour company to create a unique tour that will take participants to the village of Sabana Grande to spend a week in what is termed a Sustainable Communities in Renewable Energy project. After the week here we take a few more days to see some of the rest of country and end up with a couple of nights in a small beach town near the Costa Rican border.

The idea of the project came several years ago and has really been advanced by the local women. This has proven to be very successful  as opposed to so many well-meaning, but poorly supported, aid programs that have failed in the past.

This is a very real experience and participants will stay with families in their homes. Conditions are very rudimentary, not that much different from camping – however, you will have incredible experiences that will probably change your view of the world.

Participants will:

* Build a solar oven with the local women’s group, the Solar Women of Totogalpa
* Tour an organic coffee farm and make your own solar roasted coffee in the community
* Listen to talks on Solar Dryers, Medicinal Plants, the Green Store project, and our micro-loan program
* Take a solar cooking class and learn about the importance of soy as you make delicious soy empanadas or chorizo
* Visit local families that have photovoltaic systems installed in their homes and learn how the sun’s light generates clean energy. Plus there will be some visits to other areas around Sabana Grande to see local sites.


The Solar Women of Totogalpa is a group of women with a vision for the future which they are making a reality every day.  They have been constructing, with adobe bricks made with their own hands, the first buildings on their newly acquired solar center grounds.  But along with the physical construction, the women are building strong bonds between former Sandinistas and Contras, and new economic and social models to further their development in a sustainable way.
Totogalpa lies three hours north of the capital city Managua, Nicaragua.  Nested among rolling hills and fertile plains, it is primarily an agricultural community tied together by strong family values.  By modern standards, life here is simple and lacking in amenities, yet it is a place where hard work is valued as highly as friends and family.  Through their own efforts and with the help of national and international organizations and volunteers, the Solar Women have been making progress toward a brighter future.
It has been eighteen years since the war officially ended in Nicaragua, but remnants of the conflict, such as landmines, continue to affect the community.  Many soldiers’ and civilians’ lives were taken by landmines, and those who survived have struggled for years to regain their mental and physical health.  It is that much more difficult being physically handicapped in a society which suffers from extreme poverty, natural disasters, and severe unemployment.  The immediate and most devastating effects are born by the land mine victims, of course, but the community as a whole also suffers from the impact that landmine injuries have on family and community relationships.

Recently, the Solar Women took a huge step to make their dreams reality by completing the construction of their adobe Solar Center building on three acres of donated land situated on the main through highway to Honduras, right off the Pan American highway.  The women have created a plan for a Solar Center that would house an office, research center, production shops, market, restaurant, and hotel.  This solar “campus” would provide the infrastructure they envision to promote and sell solar products and house and feed visitors coming to their model solar community for courses in solar technology.  They have planted many fruits and medicinal and culinary herbs on this site, all grown organically and with an eye toward not only feeding their community, but also marketing them regionally.  They enjoy experimenting with new foods and plants and how best to cook and dry them in the solar cookers and dryers they have designed and built. They also are in the process of exploring partnerships with coffee growers to solar roast and market their beans.

Dreams of a Solar Campus

In one year alone, the Solar Women contributed over 8,000 hours in volunteer work just on the their first building, making every one of the almost 6,000 adobe bricks with their own hands.  The first Solar Center building is now open and houses a small office, a shop for building photovoltaic panels and solar cookers, and a small warehouse.  It also functions as a center for the community for special occasions, such as the arrival or departure of Solar Culture Course participants and international volunteers.  The women, together with a local NGO , offer solar culture courses several times a year that not only teach the skills and technology of building solar panels and cookers, but the realities of life as a campesino in Nicaragua.
The Solar Women have also built a Clivus composting toilet and installed a solar water pump on the center grounds, and in partnership with ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), replanted more than 14,000 native trees in the community.  The women also maintain a Green Store (Tienda Verde), a Nanoloan Revolving Fund, and a Scholarship Fund/Committee.
The Solar Women have received national and international recognition for their dedication to sustainable development and for serving as a model to other communities in Nicaragua and beyond.  The most recent came from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in partnership with the UN Commissions on the Environment and on Development.

If this sounds interesting to you, please contact us. We are only taking 8 people on this program. Call 888-778-2378  or email us at gduffy@worldwideecolodges.com and we will put your name on the list to receive the detailed write-up of the program.

Rainforest Spa, La Quinta de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

16 03 2010
Spa in the Rainforest of Costa Rica

La Quinta de Sarapiqui Outdoor Massages

I had the pleasure of visiting this ecolodge on a couple of occasions. The owners are long time local tourism supporters and have been adding new services all the time, like this outdoor spa. What could be more relaxing than a gentle massage listening to the sounds of the forest and the river? I should also say that the food at their upgraded dining room was also very tasty and healthy. If you are looking for someplace simple, nice and well run, you would not be far wrong in this one. Friendly and funky.

Hello world!

22 02 2010

Welcome to our first blog site. I hope you all like it.