New travel guide highlights eco-friendly options in Ecuador

02/11/04

Welcome Ecuador targets the 600,000 tourists that visit the Andean nation per year

In an effort to help protect Ecuador's unique biodiversity and cultural heritage, GlobalPlateau has teamed up with local and international environmental organizations to produce a traveler-friendly arrival guide that will steer tourists toward culturally and environmentally responsible choices.

The free guide, called Welcome Ecuador, is published in Spanish and English and is being distributed on inbound flights from Miami, Lima, and Bogotá. The guide details dozens of lodges, excursions and field-trip choices that operate in an environmentally sound manner and support local communities and economies.

"Tourism is really a double-edged sword," said GlobalPlateau's Marc Roudebush. "It can either fuel an economy in a low-impact way that supports culture and traditions, or – when done poorly – it can destroy the fragile ecosystems and cultures that draw tourists to these countries in the first place. The intention of Welcome Ecuador is to give travelers the information they need to make responsible choices."

"Welcome is a private sector-led development initiative designed to reward responsible operators with commercial success. It's exciting to be cooperating with the public sector to achieve a win-win outcome," adds Roudebush. Welcome Ecuador is published with the cooperation and in-kind support of Conservation International (CI), the Rainforest Alliance, the Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association (ASEC), as well as the Ecuadorian Ministries of Tourism and the Interior. Several airlines are distributing the publication, which will be issued three times per year and directed at the some 600,000 tourists who visit Ecuador annually.

"Ecuador is one of the 17 most biologically diverse countries in the world, but it's also one of the poorest in the region," said Conservation International's Andean Tourism Specialist, Stephen Edwards. "Responsible tourism is one of the few ways the global community can truly help protect Ecuador's natural and cultural treasures. Conservation International is supporting this initiative because we believe that sustainable tourism can bring benefits for conservation of biodiversity and cultural resources as well as provide important income."

One of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador is also one of the most geographically varied. It is home to the world's highest active volcano, Cotopaxi (19,388 ft), some of the Amazon basin's most pristine rain forests, and the internationally renowned Galapagos Islands. Ecuador's natural beauty is rivaled only by its cultural heritage. It is one of the few countries in the world that is home to two cities considered world heritage sites by the United Nations: the capital of Quito and the southern city of Cuenca – both renowned for their colonial architecture.

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