Design and ecotourism
When I think of ecotourism, I think of jungles and rain forests. Get in, get out, leave as little trace as possible.
For her new effort leading travelers overseas to investigate, and work on, sustainability projects, Andrea Atkinson has a different take: “We’re going beyond not leaving a footprint to leaving a positive footprint, having an impact on the place you’re visiting, and leaving that place with knowledge and wisdom useful in your business.”This is a great attitude to have toward visiting new places, whether they're Blackpool Hotels or villages out in the wilderness. To be able to travel the world and leave it in just as good a condition as before you arrived is extremely important, as it then retains its natural wonder for future visitors.
Atkinson, formerly of Boston’s Green Roundtable, said she’s working with Elevate Destinations of Cambridge, which calls itself a philanthropic travel company; it donates 5 percent of its profits from each trip to a nonprofit in the locale visited. Her specific spin is a series of trips for architects, designers, engineers, and others interested in blending tourism with professional interests.
The first trip is planned for Panama in March, with registration due the month before. In addition to Panama City, one excursion will be to the Kuna Yala Islands, where Atkinson said residents are working to design green dwellings in an area considered vulnerable to climate change. Another will be to Earth Train’s Upland Rain Forest Campus in the Mamoni Valley, where research in a number of sustainability disciplines is being conducted. The cost will be $5,500.
A trip to South Africa is planned for next fall, and other trips are contemplated into 2011.
Atkinson, who’s also a founder of the Boston Green Drinks networking group, isn’t unaware of the carbon implications of taking more than a dozen people overseas. “But the value of travel and interacting way outweighs the carbon issues related to travel,” she suggested. "I think it’s that important.”