Keeping secrets is a funny thing: I’m very good at it, but I find it excruciating when there’s exciting news to share.
You can probably imagine the pain (oh, the PAIN!!!) of sitting on this announcement for the past 6 weeks or so, waiting for all the I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed so we could finalize the details of our agreement. I didn’t want to talk about it for fear of jinxing it, because this is by far our biggest business deal since Mary and I launched GGT four years ago.
It might sound like hyperbole to say that Dr. Martha Honey wrote the book on Ecotourism, but it’s true. Ecotourism & Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? is literally the most authoritative tome on the topic, providing a comprehensive overview of the myriad complexities involved in responsible travel.
An award-winning investigative journalist with over 20 years in the field (Costa Rica and Tanzania), Dr. Honey has gone on to become one of the world’s most respected thought leaders on Ecotourism trends. She served as Executive Director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) from 2003 to 2006, and co-founded both the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and its non-profit charitable program, Travelers’ Philanthropy.
It was an honor to be involved in landing Dr. Honey as the Opening Keynote Speaker for the TBEX Travel Blogging Conference in Cancun last week, and an even greater honor to be asked to interview her onstage for the Keynote session. But perhaps the greatest honor of all was the quality time Mary and I got spend with Martha and CREST’s Washington Program Associate, Samantha Hogenson, during our four days in Cancun.
In preparation for the conference, Dr. Honey and I conducted a telephone issue to discuss topics ranging from the evolution of Ecotourism and why she feels it’s the best form of travel to the TBEX Dolphin Tour controversy and the role she sees travel bloggers playing in the future of responsible travel.
Tomorrow morning Mary & I leave for our appearance in the Opening Keynote Session at TBEX (a.k.a. Travel Bloggers Exchange), in Cancun, Mexico. It’ll be our first-ever travel blogging conference, but our third time visiting the Riviera Maya in the last five years.
I’ll admit to being both nervous and excited about it: Though I’ve attended major events such as SXSW and the Toronto Film Festival numerous times as a journalist, speaking on stage is a different story. Fortunately I’ll be getting to interview one of my personal heroes, Ecotourism pioneer Dr. Martha Honey, founder of the Center for Responsible Travel and Travelers Philanthropy, a non-profit founded to help travelers give back to community conservation and sustainable development projects.
None of this would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for the huge controversy over the Cancun CVB offering Swim With Dolphin Tours to visiting bloggers as part of the official TBEX Fam Tours. When the most popular blogger in the world, Nomadic Matt, suggested bloggers boycott TBEX unless they canceled the tour of the dolphinarium– which many of us eco-friendly folks think are cruel and inhumane- there was a standoff, with neither side seemingly willing to budge. Fortunately, having worked with the CVB Cancun before, we were able to work diplomatically to get the tours cancelled.
The irony that the all-inclusive hotel the conference is in and the location of the Opening Night Party both offer captive cetacean tours is not lost on Dr. Honey or I. But we’ve agreed that the Big Picture– getting to talk about the importance of responsible ecotourism, and of bloggers covering these types of issues in their work– allows us to educate and inform the key travel industry influence in a way that could help make a difference. I mean, just imagine if even half of the bloggers attending TBEX started writing about Sustainable Travel issues regularly?
So in that spirit of focusing on the positive and encouraging people to celebrate the beauty of nature and cultural conservation, we thought it’d be fun to share seven of our favorite Cancun ecotourism attractions. Check out the videos!
Without Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, Sanibel Island, Florida as we know and love it today might not even exist.
Born in 1876, Ding (a contraction of his last name, which he used to sign all his work) became one of the leading editorial cartoonists of the 20th century, working primarily with the New York Globe and New York Herald Tribune.
Darling used his work to criticize the role industrial commerce played in the pollution of America’s rivers, the role of hunting in the rise of endangered species, the scourge of deforestation, and the businessmen and politicians who seemed not to care about the long-term implications of their actions. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work, in 1924 and 1943.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a Blog Hop about one of my favorite subjects (Writing) by two of my favorite bloggers, Susan Portnoy and Jessie Voigts.
Susan Portnoy is a safari addict, world explorer and photographer who blogs as The Insatiable Traveler. She’s traveled to over 35 countries and looks forward to every new experience, especially those that involve authentic cultures, wild animals or remnants of ancient civilizations. She is a contributor to Yahoo Travel and her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Mashable, & more. When she’s not traveling, Susan is a veteran communications and PR consultant (most recently at Condé Nast). This fall she’ll oversee press for the return of Fashion Rocks and Movies Rock, two prime-time CBS specials that celebrate the relationship between fashion and music and movies and music respectively.
Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids. She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world, and Journey to Scotland, a resource for traveling to Scotland. She also founded the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water, anywhere in the world.
Read on for my answers to four not-so-simple questions about Writing, and to find out which 3 blogger friends I’ve invited to join the Blog Hop… Continue reading