‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

May 8, 2019 by  
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The tourism industry is booming throughout the world but nowhere more noticeably than on the small tropical islands of Southeast Asia. Millions of tourists flock to these remote islands every day to enjoy the beaches and snorkel among the coral reef, but the traffic and waste they produce has forced some ecosystems to reach their breaking point. “Overtourism” is the new term for the overpopulation of tourists who wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems. Many Asian governments have had to close entire islands in order to allow habitats and species (like sharks and sea turtles) to rehabilitate. The environmental impact of overtourism The primary reasons that mass tourism negatively impacts the environment include: Discharge of human waste directly into the ocean by boats, cruise ships and hotels A government survey in the Philippines revealed that 716 out of 834 businesses on the famous Boracay Island did not have wastewater permits and were indiscriminately dumping sewage and waste into the water. Cruise ships, private yachts and many hotels along the coasts also dump waste directly into the ocean . Toxic chemicals from sunscreens pollute young coral species Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to alter the DNA of young corals , prohibiting normal and healthy growth. Related: Hawaii bans reef-killing chemical sunscreens Massive amounts of garbage and plastic pollution According to the Ocean Conservancy, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are responsible for up to 60 percent of all plastic pollution in the ocean. Globally, eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Related: New study reveals microplastics are in the air Unsustainable development and the destruction of key habitats, like mangroves Almost 50 percent of all mangrove forests have been destroyed in countries including India, the Philippines and Vietnam. Mangroves are systematically cleared to make way for hotels, resorts and white sand beaches, but healthy mangroves are an essential part of healthy coastal ecosystems. Mangroves protect beaches from erosion and provide critical nursery and breeding grounds for young fish and other species. Why are there so many tourists? The rapid rise in tourism is mostly because of expanding middle classes in many countries. More people are able to afford vacations and travel, particularly in China. In 2018, Chinese citizens made a total of 150 million trips abroad, compared to just 10 million in 2000. Regardless of the origin of the tourists, Pacific islands’ infrastructure and ecosystems are unable to handle the surge and are in desperate need of regulation and management. “I would argue that tourism has not only been badly managed in general, it’s not been managed at all,” said Randy Durband, chief executive officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Islands close their borders to tourists When tourism began to rise, most island residents were happy to have the jobs and foreign investment, and their governments did not take the time nor resources to develop a management strategy or implement limitations. Now, many governments are scrambling to preserve the very ecosystems that bring tourists to their shores before they are destroyed beyond repair. After calling the waters around Borocay Island a “cesspool,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duerte closed the entire island and launched a large clean-up effort. A new management plan will reduce the daily visitors from 20,000 to approximately 6,000, ban single-use plastics , impose littering fines and ban jet skis from driving within 100 meters of the shore. With these steps, an acceptable rehabilitation of the island is expected to take at least two years. In Thailand, the government closed the famous Maya Bay indefinitely after conservationists reported that over 50 percent of corals had been destroyed. In addition to sunscreen toxins, boat anchors and physical impact from tourists walking on coral and taking pieces as souvenirs cause major damage. Current coral restoration efforts are underway to replant native corals, and species like black tipped reef sharks have reportedly returned. SEE: Can the Cayman Islands save to Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs? Closing islands is an extreme solution, but it demonstrates that many governments are realizing the importance of ecosystems even at the expense of tourism revenue. Sustainable tourism expert Epler Wood said, “We don’t advocate a closing unless it’s an emergency. We recommend balanced management that looks at supply and demand and measured responses based on planning and science that involves regular benchmarking, like water testing .” Tips for sustainable tourism Tips for governments: The nation of Bali has imposed a $10 tax on international passengers that goes directly toward cultural and environmental preservation initiatives, such as waste management. Many tourism-dependent islands in the Pacific and Caribbean have imposed similar tourist fees. In Palau, visitors are required to sign an environmental pledge that is stamped right onto their passports, promising to act respectfully and without damaging ecosystems. Bans on straws and single-use plastics can also be particularly effective on small islands without proper waste management systems. Finally, governments can invest in marine spatial planning and zoning initiatives that identify key vulnerable areas. Such spatial data allows governments to declare zones and enforce allowable activities within the zones, such as protected conservation areas versus recreation areas. Tips for tourists: According to the South China Morning Post, here are five tips to be a more sustainable tourist : Book hotels that employ sustainable initiatives to reduce waste, energy and water consumption. Choose tour operators who give back to the community — and keep tourism benefits within the local economy — by employing locals, supporting local growers and other initiatives. Be a plastic-free traveler and dispose of your garbage correctly. Research sustainable tourism initiatives you might want to support ahead of your trip. Engage in community-based tourism. “The basic model is: educate yourself, do the right thing and try to be of positive benefit,” said Marta Mills, a sustainable tourism specialist. “Act like you are a guest in someone’s home, because you are.” Via Yale360 Images via Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi , Laznes Binch ,  Stefan Munder , Juanjook Torres González and Jose Nicdao

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‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences

April 30, 2019 by  
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Conscientious travelers often worry about the impact of their dollars and whether or not tourism improves lives in the local communities they visit. Now Bee + Hive, a not-for-profit association made up of hotels and other travel industry partners, is launching a booking engine to help travelers choose sustainable tourism experiences. Starting in June, Bee + Hive plans to take the guesswork out of global sustainable travel . “People are interested in traveling responsibly, but the process of identifying and selecting genuine sustainable options is complicated,” explained Bruno Correa, Bee + Hive founder. “In addition, there is growing interest in making travel choices based on experiences that are unique and transformative. Our booking engine will help do both.” Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability So, what qualifies as sustainable? Canada-based Bee + Hive has worked with Conservation International to identify a group of indicators by which it evaluates prospective members’ impact on the local community  and the experiential impact they provide to guests. Areas of examination include sustainable management, cultural connections, nature, experiences offered and social-economic impact. Bee + Hive helps members develop an action plan to up their sustainability quotient. A much-cited 2013 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that in most all-inclusive package tours, 80 percent of travelers’ money benefited airlines, hotels and other companies with headquarters outside the country the person is visiting. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), when a traveler from a developed country visits a developing country, only about 5 out of every 100 dollars spent stays in the local economy. Correa wants to improve upon this figure. “A responsible hotel cares about developing the local ecosystem and its community,” Correa said. “The best way to do this is by offering authentic activities that reflect the destination. As a not-for-profit, all of Bee + Hive’s revenues will be reinvested on promotional efforts for legitimate and inspiring sustainable hotels and experiences, in a virtuous circle where more hotels join our movement.” + Bee + Hive Images via Bee + Hive

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Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences

Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

February 12, 2019 by  
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Elevated on angled steel legs and clad in sleek black metal, the PAN Treetop Cabins tucked away in a forest two hours from Oslo are unlike your typical forest retreat. Located in the woods of Finnskogen (the Finnish Forest) in east Norway, the two cabins were designed by Oslo-based architect Espen Surnevik for Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, a couple who wanted to create an eco-friendly and sustainable tourism destination. Opened for bookings in late 2018, the pair of cabins offers all the comforts of home in a remote and wild landscape. Founders Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel started the tourism project in hopes of connecting foreign tourists with “the real Norwegian wilderness.” The couple, who live on a farm in Finnskogen near the Swedish border, wants to raise awareness of the region, from its location at the beginning of Taiga — the earth’s largest land biome — to the area’s rich biodiversity and ties to mysticism. According to the project’s press release, “PAN Treetop Cabins is a visionary project that combines spectacular architecture with the stunning nature one finds in this little known part of Norway.” The pair of cabins has been carefully placed for optimal access to natural light and views. Each cabin is elevated on steel poles to minimize site impact and is designed with energy efficiency in mind. Inside, there are 40 square meters of living space outfitted with electricity, radiant floor heating, a rain shower, a fully equipped kitchen and a fireplace. The tent-shaped profiles were inspired by North American A-frame lodges and are punctuated on both ends with large windows. Related: This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape “PAN is a unique possibility for tourists who want to experience the quiet of the forest, exciting activities, the mysterious culture of Finnskogen and the extraordinary animal life you have in this part of Norway,” the designers said, noting that all the materials were carefully selected to adhere to sustainable principles. The cabins are clad in black metal rather than timber to call attention to their man-made origins. + Espen Surnevik Images via Rasmus Norlander

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Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

Solar-powered floating hotel room is designed to pop up anywhere on water

January 17, 2019 by  
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Valencia-based architecture firm Mano De Santo has proposed a plug-and-play hotel room that could be easily transported and installed thanks to its modular, off-grid design. Dubbed the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge, the conceptual floating pavilion is a sustainable tourism initiative that targets low environmental impact. Powered with solar energy , the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge would offer a private and luxurious experience on the water for two. Unveiled last year, the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge is envisioned to house two levels spanning a total of 74 square meters in size. The ground floor — approximately 40 square meters — includes a small front terrace that opens to the bedroom, which overlooks views of the water through full-height glazing. The bathroom, technical equipment and storage are tucked in a unit behind the bed, while a small outdoor terrace is located in the rear. Guests can also enjoy access to the roof, where an open-air lounge with seating is located. “Punta de Mar is a sustainable tourism initiative, since it does not generate waste because it is an installation of modules whose system is the ‘Plug & Go,’” the architects said in a project statement. The team also explained that the unit is integrated into its environment with low impact. The hotel can be easily relocated — it can be transported by land or sea — and can be enjoyed in an array of different settings for “unique and exclusive experiences.” Related: This modular outdoor swimming pool from Finland could make a splash near you In addition to the off-site prefabrication of the unit that minimizes waste, the Punta de Mar Marine Lodge was designed to follow passive solar principles to reduce energy usage. Moreover, the indoor temperature, lighting, alarm system and entertainment system can all be controlled remotely via the guests’ smartphones. + Mano De Santo Via ArchDaily Photography by Sergio Belinchon via Mano De Santo

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Solar-powered floating hotel room is designed to pop up anywhere on water

Royal Caribbean’s creative workaround for onshore renewable energy procurement

November 14, 2018 by  
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It is pioneering a unique approach to marrying power purchase agreements and verified carbon offsets.

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Royal Caribbean’s creative workaround for onshore renewable energy procurement

These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining

July 9, 2018 by  
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In an effort to encourage ecotourism for the millions that visit the United Arab Emirates each year, the country has officially launched the Biodomes project, which will feature beautiful biodomes designed by Baharash Architecture . Located in the mountainous eastern region of the UAE, the biodomes will be self-sustaining, use 100 percent renewable energy and have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment. Ultimately, the UAE hopes that the biodomes will promote awareness of and interest in the variety of wildlife in the mountain region. Baharash Architecture’s biodomes will provide a controlled environment, similar to that of a greenhouse, that closely mimics the surrounding natural area. In this case, the biodomes will be located in the Al Hajar Mountains, a stunning region that is home to rare species of Arabian wildlife . The project seeks to raise awareness of mountain biodiversity, and its facilities will include a wildlife conservation center and an adventure-based wilderness retreat. Related: Solar-powered biodome sustains all four seasons at the same time, under one roof The self-sustaining structures are crafted from prefabricated components, which will help to reduce site disruption and allow for the biodomes’ quick assembly. Semi-subterranean typology will provide passive cooling benefits, and the biodomes will rely on 100 percent  renewable energy and use recycled wastewater for irrigation and waste management on site. Visitors to the biodomes can experience a restaurant that offers both organic local cuisine and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Additionally, according to Baharash Bagherian, the Director and Founder of Baharash Architecture, the biodomes’ “bioclimatic indoor environments will provide visitors with thermal comfort, restorative and therapeutic benefits.” Visitors can also participate in several nature-based ecotourism activities, including ziplining, horse riding, hiking, camel excursions, mountain biking, paragliding and much more. + Baharash Architecture Images courtesy of Baharash Architecture

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These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining

Mode:lina upcycles construction materials into an industrial-chic eatery

July 9, 2018 by  
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This new eatery in Pozna? , Poland sports an unconventional interior that’s all about imaginative upcycling. Polish architectural interior design studio mode:lina outfitted the restaurant — called The Rusztowanie Grill and Bistro — with a suite of construction materials repurposed into decor, serving plates, lighting fixtures and more. Serving up comfort food like massive burgers and hearty soups, the eatery’s contemporary and industrial-chic design matches its Instagrammable food offerings. Located in ?azarz (St. Lazarus District), one of the oldest districts in Pozna?, Rusztowanie Grill and Bistro can be found in the basement of a historic townhouse that dates back more than 100 years. The space spans 538 square feet and was designed with products sourced from a building warehouse. The existing exposed brick walls were retained and, matched with the Edison bulbs, track lighting and exposed concrete ceiling, they give the space an industrial feel that’s emphasized in the decor. Timber sourced from the warehouse forms the bar front and booth seating. The timbers were deliberately misaligned to bring attention to their raw appearance. Galvanized metal pipes were reworked into sculptural lamps, table legs and wall partitions. Concrete lattice paving blocks were stacked in front of some of the exposed brick walls that are painted black. The burgers are even served on a shovel head repurposed as a plate. Related: Spiky sweets shop makes extraordinary use of the common traffic cone “[We] ensured that the interior design of a basement in an over 100-year old townhouse is consistent with the name and communication strategy of the restaurant,” explained mode:lina in a project statement. “All is done in line with the type of food available here – simple dishes served in an unusual way.” + mode:lina Images by Patryk Lewin?ski

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Mode:lina upcycles construction materials into an industrial-chic eatery

Hawaii’s long and winding road to sustainable tourism

June 18, 2018 by  
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As Hilton, United Airlines and others are learning, educating visitors and local residents alike is critical for future progress.

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Hawaii’s long and winding road to sustainable tourism

Why resilience is resonating in grid modernization dialogues

June 18, 2018 by  
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Strategies like isolated generation, cross-sector planning and partnerships, and planning for the unplannable will apply far beyond islands like Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

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Why resilience is resonating in grid modernization dialogues

Message from Mars: How to institutionalize sustainability

June 18, 2018 by  
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Last week, Mars, Inc. generated headlines by committing $1 billion to achieve the company’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan.

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Message from Mars: How to institutionalize sustainability

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