Tag Archives: Ecotourism

Anaconda Walk

An Interview with… Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin (part 2)

In our second interview with the incredible Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, we talk about his thoughts about the future of ecotourism in Peru. 

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After visiting more than 80 countries, which place is closer to your views on ecotourism and sustainable development?

It is difficult to name one place, but Australia, Kenya, Costa Rica and (in some regions) Peru stand out in terms of ecotourism and sustainable development.

What is your opinion about tourism in Peru?

There is no doubt that Peru has one of the world’s greatest potentials for ecotourism, due to its astonishing biological, cultural and landscape megadiversity. One example is bird-watching. Peru is second place on Earth with the largest number of bird species (1,879 species), 139 of which are endemic. We know that bird watching represents the widest and most outreached segment of ecotourism on a global scale: in the United States in 2011, 71.8 million people observed, fed and/or photographed birds and fauna in their natural habitat. These people spent US$54.9 billion on wildlife observation trips (including birds), as well as gear and other related aspects. Bird watching is the most popular outdoor activity in the US, and it is even more popular than sport fishing, sport hunting and golf.  On the other hand, the Inca ruins in Peru are an extraordinary attraction for tourists all around the world.

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From an environmental architect’s standpoint, what are your views on Inkaterra’s design and its conservation projects?

Inkaterra’s eco-friendly architecture is at the world’s highest level. In Tambopata and Machu Picchu, architectural forms and native building materials have been successfully applied to achieve harmony with the natural environment. At Inkaterra La Casona, in Cusco, a brilliant remodeling of Spanish colonial architecture has been achieved. I am very impressed with the outstanding work on conservation that Inkaterra is developing, especially in Machu Picchu and Tambopata, which can be seen in activities such as observation of native orchids, birds and Andean bears. The work that biologist Carmen Soto does at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is truly remarkable. The World Birding Rally organised by ITA, MINCETUR and PromPerú across the country’s Nor Amazon region, was a great success and should be replicated throughout all regions of Peru. The concept of developing an ITA field station within the grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is both necessary and urgent.

During this visit to Peru, have you added a lifer to your 3793-bird life list?

In my case, that number of 3793  is already out of date! I have reached 4,366 lifers (bird species in their natural habitat, observed for the first time by a birdwatcher). In the last five years, I had the pleasure of adding five visits to Peru (I have been 10 times in this amazing country) and from my 4,366 birds, I have registered 219 of these in Peru. Actually, in early June I was able to add 4 to my list while bird watching at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, with the assistance of Braulio Puma, the skillful Inkaterra Explorer Guide.

Birding at Inkaterra

José Koechlin argues that a bird migration route should be promoted by the countries that belong to the Pacific Alliance. Do you think this proposal would be beneficial?

I think José’s proposal is excellent. As we know, the Pacific Alliance is an initiative for regional integration. Its purposes are political, commercial, economic and social, though an ecological component should be added. If natural resources from the world’s greatest ocean are not adequately conserved, it is evident that the objectives proposed by the Pacific Alliance will not be achieved. There are many  bird species that endure transoceanic migration routes, and it is urgent that we develop more specialised studies and conservation projects in this area, and that the Pacific Alliance participate in an active way. This would bring great benefits to the participating countries and their habitants.

So, right now are you working in a new publication?

Yes, I am researching and gathering material for a publication on the world’s best ecolodges, describing their aspects on environmental architecture and their standards on ecotouristic sustainability. Watch this space!

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An Interview with…Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin

Mexican architect and environmentalist Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin is renowned across the planet as the Father of Ecotourism. Winner of the Colibrí Ecotourism Lifetime Achievement Award, his work includes more than 160 books and articles, and has developed his eco-friendly designs in countries such as Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain and Egypt. In June Mr. Ceballos-Lascuráin visited Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, and we had the chance to talk with him about the challenges of ecotourism and sustainability, his view on architecture, and the latest four species he added to his 4,366-bird life list.

When did you first start to appreciate nature?

It developed in my early childhood back at Parral – Chihuahua, a small mining town in Northern Mexico. We lived in a colony where the houses of the trusted employees (my father was the company’s doctor) were located at broad collective gardens with big trees surrounding an artificial lake. Many aquatic birds migrated to the lake, among ducks, herons, kingfishers and cormorants. I started observing them with a telescope given by my uncle Juan, and from then on, I was hooked.

Do you recall the precise moment when the term ‘ecotourism’ emerged?

I coined the term ‘ecotourism’ in July 1983, when I worked both as Director General of Standards and Technology at SEDUE (Secretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Ecología de México) and as Founding President of PRONATURA, an influential conservationist NGO in Mexico. During those days PRONATURA was encouraging the conservation of  coastal inlets of the Yucatán peninsula, which were then key breeding and feeding areas for the American Flamingo. One of the key reasons I used to help dissuade the building works being planned for the area was that there was an increasing number of tourists – especially from the United States – that visited the area for bird watching. I was  convinced that these people could play a key role in the economic growth of rural communities, creating new job opportunities and helping preserve the ecology of the area: ecotourism!

After three decades since the term’s appearance and having been interpreted according to different contexts, do you think its definition has changed?

I think that my definition, as it has been adopted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is still valid: “Ecotourism is a modality of tourism that is environmentally responsible, which consists in travelling to or visiting natural areas without disturbance, and with the purpose of enjoying, appreciating and studying the natural values (landscape, flora and fauna) of these areas, as well as any (past or current) cultural manifestation that may be found there, through a process that promotes conservation, has a low negative impact on culture and environment, a promotes an active and socioeconomically beneficial involvement of local communities.”

The COP 20 will be held in Lima on December 2014. The overarching goal at this event is reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in order to avoid global temperature increasing 2°. In what ways ecotourism can be a choice to achieve this mission?

As it values natural vegetation and fauna, it is evident that ecotourism contributes to minimize deforestation (which is known to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) and other drastic changes produced by man in our natural environment.

In many cases, a country’s economic growth is not aligned with the conservancy of its natural and historic heritage. According to your experience, what are the main consequences of this form of development?

Regretfully, since the mid-19th century and during all the 20th century, we have experienced the worst destruction of our planet’s natural resources, due to man’s unscrupulous lucrative eagerness and the irrational exploit of these resources. This industrial, commercial and economic development has obviously occurred in a more noticeable way in richer countries. This is how a great proportion of natural and cultural values have been irreversibly lost in these countries. Extreme consumerism has been disastrous for the environment.

Stay tuned for the second part of this interview, where we talk about Héctor’s views on ecotourism in Peru and his opinions on the work of Inkaterra.

LNHD

Inkaterra: A Harvard Business Review Case Study

Mr. Diego Comín, Professor at Harvard Business School (HBS) has presented Inkaterra in its very own unique case study for Harvard Business School. The case discusses Inkaterra as a leading Peruvian ecotourism organization and the unique business model that is currently in place. The case also emphasizes the potential barriers which exist in the development of the tourism industry; and also opens the debate on whether governments will be ready to use tourism as a generator of growth, and if so, what would be the best strategy to keep the environment safe.

“The educational goal for this case is to understand the base of Inkaterra´ s business model: evaluate its optimum evolution & the extensions of Inkaterra´s strategy to the development of ecotourism in Peru; explore current restrictions for its growth; evaluate possible tensions between its expansion and the environment” says Diego.

Inkaterra foments scientific research in order to develop business activities based on conservation carried out by local communities, in order to improve their quality of life,  with sustainable tourism. Chairman and CEO of Inkaterra José Koechlin was invited to participate in the presentation of the case in the Harvard Business School classrooms this November. Professor Diego Comín studied Inkaterra for four years together with Mr. Rohan Gopaldas (HSB) & Diego Rehder (Universidad del Pacífico-Peru).

This is a great merit for Peru and Inkaterra. Seemingly, the case has now been considered as a “Business & Government Relations: Economic Development Case” and not only a business case. It has been stipulated that ecotourism may be used by governments as a “motor of growth and of environment conservation”. “This is something very innovative”, says Mr. Luis Suarez-Clausen, ex-president of Pepsico International. Since November 28th- December 6th, Inkaterra, with the support of Promperu, has put into practice another pragmatic example with the organisation of the first World Bird Watching Championship.

This is another great accolade for Inkaterra and a fitting end to what has been a bright and successful year for Inkaterra.