We are an independently funded project which seeks to explore Central America and survey the state of authentic eco-lodges, eco-resorts and associated eco-tourism activities in the region.
We will be visiting established eco-tourism locations to look at the benefits and drawbacks that eco-lodgings introduce in an area, to search out examples of excellence, and to scope out areas where the environment and community could benefit from sustainable eco-tourism activities.
When we find the right place and people, Round the Bend Project will be a world-class example of innovative approaches to community development by combining sustainability, tourism, environmental conservation and education.
What is Authentic Eco-tourism?
Authentic eco-tourism projects must have sustainability at its core. They should provide a platform for cross-cultural learning, as well as a means for local economic development driven by environmental stewardship. In short, a true eco-tourism project or lodge/resort must have strategies and actions in the following areas:
- Environmental conservation
- Education & outreach
- Community participation & development
Having travelled in many regions of the world, we have experienced first-hand the conflicting challenges existing between the aspirations for development and the importance of maintaining environmental stewardship. We have also seen the blossoming of eco-everything, and despite being thrilled to bits that being green gets an honourable mention, we are worried about the authenticity of it all. We have seen too many cases where not enough is being done to really look after the environment and the people where these “eco” activities take place.
What makes this project special?
This project combines non-profit goals with commercial principles to create a large, long-term development project that achieves both prosperity and conservation in developing countries. The entire establishment and operations process of the eco-lodge and associated eco-tourism activities will be documented to create a model case study in eco-excellence. Once the project is successful and profitable, it is our intent to duplicate the model in other areas of the world to benefit more communities.
Among other things, the project would address:
- innovative and sustainable infrastructure, architecture and technologies
- transferable skill enhancement and traineeship opportunities in hospitality and tourism activities
- education for local groups and international visitors through cultural and environmental immersion, and various volunteer opportunities
- the inspirational broadcasting of lessons in sustainable learning through marketing, research interests and media exposure
- the micro-financing of affiliated industries based on traditional knowledge and skills, with the intention of creating long-term business opportunities so that the community would not have to rely on tourism alone
Ultimately, this project will demonstrate the viability of sustainable eco-lodgings and provide a benchmark for the industry.