TIES Founder Megan Epler Wood
On the Evolution & Future of Ecotourism
I was influenced by Megan Epler Wood long before I even knew who she was.
After getting her Masters degree in Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University, Epler Wood went on to create The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, with a mission to make responsible tourism a tool for conservation and sustainable development worldwide. Serving as President of that organization for 12 years, Epler Wood helped define what ecotourism is, oversaw ecotourism projects in 25 countries, and developed an infrastructure for responsible, sustainable tourism that continues to grow around the globe today.
In the years since she stepped down, Epler Wood has written numerous books about using sustainable tourism as an economic development tool, served as core lecturer at Harvard on Environmental Management of International Tourism Development, served as Executive Director of the Planeterra Foundation, and recently became Senior Professional Fellow at Cornell University’s Center for Global Sustainable Enterprise. With her own company, EplerWood International, she’s consulted with countries such as Honduras, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Brazil, helping to create their respective sustainable tourism development strategies. In short, she’s the closest thing the ecotourism industry has to an international celebrity.
So you can imagine the honor when Epler Wood recently extended a personal invitation to us to travel with her to visit a new Maasai ecotourism initiative during the recent Ecotourism & Sustainable Tourism Conference in Kenya. Unfortunately, we were unable to get funding for that trip, but were delighted when she agreed to speak with us about the past, present and future of ecotourism.