First Ever Conference on Ecotourism in the U.S. Seeks to Transform Tourism Industry

First Ever Conference on Ecotourism in the U.S. Seeks to Transform Tourism Industry

The First National Conference in Ecotourism To Be Held in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA


TIES Press ReleaseWASHINGTON, DC, August 29, 2005 - With nature and adventure travel today representing two of the fastest growing sectors of the US tourism industry, top ecotourism leaders from across the United States will gather in Bar Harbor, Maine, on September 14-16, to discuss how to make tourism a positive force for protecting our nation’s cultural and natural heritage.


The first-ever National Conference on Ecotourism in the US will feature more than 85 speakers, including a keynote presentation by Dr. Sylvia Earle, the world famous marine biologist who Time Magazine called a "Hero of the Planet."

"This historic conference is about managing tourism carefully – for the earth and for local communities - in such a way that it maximizes the economic benefits and minimizes the negative impacts that tourism can sometimes have" says Costas Christ, Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and an international recognized ecotourism expert. The Chamber and The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) are the co-hosts of the conference.


The three day conference will feature dozens of workshops and seminars covering relevant and timely topics such as gateway communities, eco-labels and certification, eco-lodges and "green" accommodations, marketing ecotourism, agritourism, native communities and indigenous rights, marine ecotourism, destination stewardship, and "slow" and organic foods.


In addition, two town hall sessions will discuss the role of government policy towards ecotourism and the future of the Maine north woods. This area is the largest remaining wilderness area east of the rocky mountains and currently the subject of intense debate between environmental groups, timber companies and tourism operators.

Conference organizers have also taken a number of steps to "green" the conference. These include: organic Green Mountain coffee and tea, FSC certified paper and printers, and souvenir tote bags and T-shirts made from 100% organic cotton and printed with eco-friendly inks. Through an arrangement with NativeEnergy, a renewable energy company that specializes in providing carbon credits to help offset pollution related to global warming, the conference will be "climate neutral."

"One of the biggest challenges for ecotourism is that air and road travel to beautiful and often remote destinations contributes to global warming. However, to demonstrate that there are alternative solutions, we are calculating the environmental footprint of travel to the conference and the venue itself, and contributing the dollar equivalent to a wind farm owned by Native Americans," says TIES Executive Director Martha Honey.


The conference has attracted a wide range of support from other organizations and businesses. Conference sponsors include: L.L. Bean, Ford Foundation, United Nations Foundation, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, United Nations Environment Programme, Rainforest Alliance, Environmental Defense, Adventures in Travel Expo, Adventure Council, and three award-winning ecotourism companies: Lindblad Expeditions, Papoose Creek Lodge, and Alaska Wildland Adventures. In addition, an array of Maine-based institutions, including the Maine Coastal Program, Gulf of Maine Council, State Tourism Office, and Friends of Acadia National Park, are providing financial and in-kind support.


About TIES

As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..




> The International Ecotourism Society 



The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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