For the last decade eco/sustainable tourism has topped the list for travel trends. The words ecotourism and sustainable tourism often become tangled together. Sustainable Tourism is an overarching travel concept and Ecotourism is a subcategory within travel. Sustainability applies policies that minimize the depletion of resources whether they be natural, economic, social or cultural. These policies exist across all styles of travel; adventure, wildlife, urban, remote, and yes even cruise travel. Ecotourism on the other hand usually refers specifically to nature experiences and conservation. Unfortunately, trends can attract impostors and a traveler needs to do due diligence in choosing a tour group. In December I traveled with RED Travel Mexico to explore the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. After researching the group and traveling with them I can comfortably say that RED Travel Mexico exemplifies sustainable tourism.
Let’s Go Learn why……..
RED Travel Mexico straddles two worlds
Chris Presenti the founder of RED Travel Mexico explains their very unique business model. It is rare for a non-profit conservation group and a for-profit tour agency to co-exist. The RED Travel business model does just that, with the profitable tourism arm funding the conservation focused non-profit arm. Both entities of RED Travel focus on conservation education, healthy community development, business incubation and environmental awareness for locals and visitors.
Often conservation projects break down from lack of “buy-in” by the local economy. It is the height of arrogance for an outside group to force their environmental values on a small struggling community. Obviously if the primary income source is environmentally unfriendly, it has to be replaced with an equivalent income that is more sustainable. Human habits will not change if there is no viable replacement offered. It is fairly easy to replace overfishing with tourism but much more difficult to replace it with responsible tourism. RED Travel takes on this challenge with extensive training for locals and project based tourism for travelers. Locals start to buy-in to sustainable practices and visiting tourists become conservation ambassadors, taking their stories home across the globe.
Education is at the heart of sustainable tourism
In addition to raising local and tourist awareness, job training and directly funding conservation projects, RED Travel is investing in the promise of tomorrow’s generations. Their Academic Adventures packages are an extraordinary opportunity for youth to participate in conservation projects and develop a passion for the environment. Set up in a camp model these trips are open to students from middle school through college ages.
Conservation Projects and Trips
“RED works with Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias to recruit, train and employ fisher conservationists, creating sustainable employment alternatives, funding the monitoring, and in the process generating important data about the health and movement of sea turtle populations. By putting the monitoring in the hands of local fishermen RED and funding the participation of students from surrounding communities in sea turtle monitoring, RED is helping to create local stewards of Magdalena Bay’s natural resources.”
Learn what it is like to be a whale shark researcher! A local researcher will join
your trip to take you through the ecology of these magnificent creatures,
the role they play in the ecosystem, and their feeding, mating
and migratory habits.
Magdalena Bay, on the Pacific coast is surrounded by sand dunes,
barrier islands and lush mangrove canals.
This idyllic spot is a temporary home for migrating and breeding grey whales.
For reason unknown, these majestic creatures interact playfully with
humans only during their brief interlude in this magical bay.
RED Travel Mexico showcases both land and sea treasures of the Baja Peninsula.
The Baja is home to a vast biodiversity that UNESCO has deemed a Biosphere Reserve.
The guides have extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of the
region and share it with a passion.
MANGROVES and BEACHES of BAHIA de BALANDRA
RED Travel has joined forces with other conservation groups to limit the development of this wonderland. Mexico is learning the environmental
value of it’s mangroves and beaches.
I shared in an earlier post about the significance of a Hope Spot. RED Travel Mexico has worked extensively in the transformation of this tiny fishing village. The results are beautifully displayed in the healthy underwater habitat.
What did GO LEARN THINGS learn from RED Travel Mexico?
The list is quite impressive.
- I must confess I was woefully unaware of what a UNESCO Biosphere was. I had heard of UNESCO Heritage Sites but not the environmental arm of UNESCO. See my post on the Sierra de Laguna Bisosphere.
- Even though we did not actually visit Magdalena Bay and the grey whales, I still learned about their curious behaviors in this special spot.
- I discovered countless trees, plants, marine wildlife and geologic phenomenon unique to the Baja Peninsula.
- RED Travel introduced me to a realistic and workable conservation program. One that respects the real life challenges of subsistence vs conservation and avoids a judgmental attitude.
- I met wonderful people working diligently to study and protect their corner of the planet.
Other posts on this RED Travel Mexico trip:
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