Title of the fifth challenge
In Search of Ecotourism

Related topic(s)
Sustainability, Sustainable Tourism, Ecotourism, Sustainability Tourism

IMG_20140331_165708After a week on a sailboat from Portobelo, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia, trying our best to enjoy the trip despite varying degrees of seasickness, we’ve finally officially arrived in South America! Now that we’re here, what to do, what to do?

IMG_20140331_171638Since we had such a great time ‘touring sustainably’ in Costa Rica, we wanted to see what Colombia has to offer. But whereas Costa Rica has been developing its ‘sustainable tourism’ for decades and you can’t help but stumble across great eco-tours and sustainable adventures, Colombia’s sustainable tourism is a little less explored.

So now we need your help!

IMG_20140331_173557Based on the definition of sustainable tourism from the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) by the Costa Rican Board of Tourism that you have discussed in your classroom, and looking at some of the initiatives and organizations we’ve visited along the way, you should by now have a good idea what ‘sustainable tourism’ is!

IMG_20140326_155829This time you don’t have three options, but rather it’s YOU who will find the ecotourism adventure that you want us to experience! This will be the most challenging challenge yet! Why is that, you ask? Because this time you’re going to have to think about multiple factors relating to different subject areas. To name a few:

  • Geography: Where’s Colombia and what is the environment like there? Is it mountainous, tropical, cold, rainy, etc.?
  • Culture/history: What is it like in Colombia? What are the people like? Are there indigenous or native groups/communities? Is it dangerous or safe?
  • Sustainability: We don’t want a ‘greenwashed’ experience! The tour you want us to take or the place you want us to visit, does it try to minimize its environmental impact? How? Does it work with or otherwise support local communities? Is it affordable? We have a very limited budget, yet many eco-tours are often quite expensive. Think about the three pillars/dimensions of sustainability and how they are reflected in your suggestion!
  • Creativity: While you’re free to find a tour agency, hotel, etc. that explicitly offers sustainable tourism, feel free to find something off the beaten path that fits within the concept and matches the values of sustainable tourism (for example, an organic coffee farm that takes volunteers or a group that offers bicycle tours).

Colombia_mapTo narrow it down a little and help you with your search – and also because we only have a limited time in Colombia and it’s a big country – focus your search on the following two ‘regions’:

  1. The triangle formed by the cities Bogotá (the capital), Cali and Medellín (in the central part of the country)
  2. The area around Santa Marta (on the northern coast)

Who will succeed in persuading us to choose their sustainable tour?

It all depends on what you suggest! With your teachers, alone, in groups or together with the other partner schools, find an existing ecotourism project, an eco-tour offered by a private company, or – based on your previous discussions, the definition of sustainable tourism and the points mentioned above – create your own sustainable tour that you would like us to go on! Your teachers will tell you in what form your argument should be made, for instance as an essay, a video, or a poster.

When you try to persuade us, remember to cover the three core dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and economic sustainability.

And remember: The more you work together, the more likely that your choice will be selected!

Useful information and links

If you have any questions for us, post them here (see below) or send us an email!

We look forward to hearing from you and reporting back from Colombia!


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