Global Connections: Eco Tourism

Submitted by The Catt-Trax2 Team on Mon, 2007/01/15 - 10:36am.

Tourism Connections By Trish Sare

Making Global Connections with Tourism By Cam Gillies


Tourism Connections

Trish Sare in Africa
Trish Sare in Africa

By Trish Sare
Director, BikeHike Adventures

BikeHike Adventures is an adventure tour operator, specializing in small group multi-sport adventures worldwide. I began BikeHike 13 years ago, after spending over a decade exploring our amazing planet, living among different cultures, and traveling by a variety of modes (bike, boat, raft, kayak, elephant, etc). Tourism is just one of the many ways that those of us living here in British Columbia and Canada are connected to the world around us. In South America we offer many different adventure trips including mountain biking in Peru, rafting and hiking in Chile or kayaking in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

My experiences abroad have educated me on the vital importance of sustainable tourism, and it is the banner under which we operate our business. We're committed to traveling in a way that both respects and benefits local people, their cultures and the environment. As part of this commitment, we give back to the communities where we operate, supporting many local conservation and welfare projects. Our commitment to environmental sustainability starts from our office in Vancouver to the destinations in which we operate. In Vancouver, our staff walk or cycle to work daily, we print our brochures on recycled paper, and recycle in our office. In the countries that we work in, we hire local suppliers and guides and work with small family-run hotels, ensuring that the profits are staying within the countries we visit. We only work with socially and environmentally responsible companies, where sustainable practices are encouraged and promoted. We actively communicate our values to our travelers and the local operators, educating them in sustainable tourism practices. BikeHike is actually fairly unique in the tourism world as we are a multi-sport tour operator. This means that as much as possible our trips are ‘self-propelled adventures', so there is minimal time spent in carbon dioxide emitting vehicles (cars, buses, planes). The ways in which our travelers explore and experience a destination is very important to us. By being self-propelled we reduce our emissions of gases that contribute to climate change and to us that is a good thing! Anything we can do to reduce our footprint on the earth is good business and makes good sense!

There are so many amazing experiences to be had by exploring our planet and meeting other cultures, and if everyone does their part in traveling in a responsible manner, future generations worldwide will benefit and the overall experiences will be far richer for everyone.


Making Global Connections with Tourism

Cam Gillies
Cam Gillies
By Cam Gillies,
Director, Eagle-Eye Tours

I am a biologist, and adventure travel operator, living in Edmonton, Alberta. I grew up in the mountains of southeastern BC and it was there that I developed my passion for nature, travel, and adventure.

I have been traveling to Central and South America to watch and study birds for many years. In 2000-2003 I carried out graduate research in the tropical forests of Costa Rica in Central America and was overwhelmed by the amazing diversity of birds in the tropics. In 2003 I had an opportunity to become involved in the eco-tourism industry by becoming co-owner of a travel company that focuses on bird-watching tours all over the world, and I jumped at it. Our company, Eagle-Eye Tours, sends clients from above the Arctic Circle to the depths of the tropical rainforest in pursuit of the unique and stunning birds and other wildlife of these areas.

Tourism is one of many ways that Canada is ‘globally connected' with the southern continents of South America and Antarctica. As a ‘bird-focused' tour operator, it is our job to put together outstanding bird-watching tours to some of the most ecologically rich and unique areas on the planet. We have offered tours to Antarctica and many of our tours visit countries and regions in Central and South America (and for a very good reason). For a ‘birder', going to South America to watch birds is a trip to the richest region of the world for bird diversity. Colombia and Peru, for example, are the two countries with the highest number of species of birds on the planet (both close to 1800 species, which is approximately three times the number of species found in all of Canada). Not only do billions of birds from a few hundred species migrate each fall to spend their winters in Central and South America, there are thousands of species that are ‘residents' in South America (which means they do not migrate out of the continent). Some of these species are widespread, being found from the grasslands of Argentina to the cloud forests of the Andes, and others are found only in a single valley or patch of forest. There are also many kinds of birds in South America that are not found further north, including birds with fascinating names such as; motmots, trogons, screamers, trumpeters, treerunners, earthcreepers, and flowerpiercers. One of the great things about traveling to South America to watch birds is that you can keep going back because new areas always hold new birds (and there are so many species!). It also gives you the opportunity to see familiar birds, such as a Yellow Warbler that breeds in your backyard, in a new environment as it moves through the canopy of a tropical forest.

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide and in order for it to be sustainable, it is important that there is benefit not only for the ‘visitor' but also the region and people being ‘visited'. The bird-watching adventures that we provide often take us far off the regular tourist route, which can have substantial economic benefits for the local communities we visit. It is important for us to give back to the communities that host us.

The large amount of global warming gases that are produced through travel (planes, trains, and ships) to and from our birding destinations is another issue that is important and of significant concern to us. This much travel produces substantial carbon dioxide emissions, which contributes to climate change. This is why we have recently purchased carbon credits from renewable energy projects to offset all of the carbon emissions from our operations so that our business is ‘carbon-neutral'. Learn more about how this works .

Operating our business without contributing to climate change is important to us because climate change not only impacts birds and natural ecosystems but human populations all around the globe. Eagle-Eye Tours is proud to make a contribution to Catt-Trax 2 - Making Global Connections: Antarctica to the Amazon by making all of the travel related to Danny's journey ‘carbon neutral'.

Tourism is just one of the many ways that Canadians are connected with the world around us. The viability of our business depends on a healthy natural environment and we hope that by following Danny's journey we will all gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the connections we have with the southern continents and the planet as a whole.