You know the lazy little seaside cabana tucked away in a Costa Rican national park that you've been dreaming about all winter? Well, you'd better book it pronto because Sunday's New York Times travel section announced that eco-tourism is the "buzzword of the year." Fortunately for you chances are good you'll get the cabana, as tropical wonderlands like Costa Rica and Belize are up against less obvious eco-resort destinations hosting environmentally conscientious recreation and accommodations. From Gabon to Bosnia-Herzegovina, tour operators are linking travel with sustainability and social justice. But the move toward ecologically based tourism isn't only gaining momentum in exotic destinations; even the state of Wisconsin, known more for its charming lack of exoticism, is getting in on the act. This spring, Cheeseheads will be experimenting with their own green certification program called Travel Green Wisconsin.
In fact, certification programs will also likely be experiencing a boom as less scrupulous tour operators attempt to take advantage of the "buzz." According to the NY Times this September "the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas - a partnership of certification programs, environmental groups, government organizations and others, led by the Rainforest Alliance and the International Ecotourism Society… designed a series of baseline criteria for certification to help generate credibility among members and promote local conservation."
It is a good thing that most TreeHuggers approve of eco-tourism, because the industry is about to explode.