Editor's Notes: May 2009

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Sustainable tourism is becoming more and more popular. No doubt the Obama administration’s emphasis on “green” issues have made more people aware and certainly, the growth of sustainable or “green” tourism has been growing in the travel industry over the last five years. But what exactly is sustainable tourism? According to The Sustainable Tourism Gateway (gdrc.org/uem/eco-tour)—an Internet-based tool providing access to information on sustainable tourism—“Sustainable tourism in its purest sense, is an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism that is both ecologically and culturally sensitive. Thus, sustainable tourism activities have minimal impact on the environment and culture of the host community.” It goes on to say that, “According to the World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is tourism that leads to the management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.”

Which brings us to this month’s issue and our second—but entirely new—Costa Rica Specialist Program, with the focus on the country’s strongest selling point—sustainable or “green” tourism, an education focus that’s totally new and unique in specialist programs. The Costa Rica Specialist Program Part II, Costa Rica’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism, outlines the varied rules and regulations Costa Rica has set up for governing its “sustainability level” classifications regarding hotels, tour operators, transportation and sustainable tourism efforts relative to its indigenous populations. In addition, the course lists the resorts, hotels and transportation entities participating in the country’s “green” programs, their specific classifications or levels within that program, and the requirements they’ve met to attain that classification. Finally, the course program breaks the country down by region with a full listing of the attractions and activities available to the travel agent specialist’s clients with full details regarding what sustainable tourism opportunities clients can participate in within that region, as well as general tourism attractions and opportunities. This course runs 28 pages with both a print and online component and upon successful completion of both the first and the second programs, and in addition to the valuable CEU credits that will be awarded, the Costa Rica Tourist Board has plans to develop a deeply discounted FAM for every agent who completes both courses, with travel planned for later in the year. So if you’ve already completed the first Costa Rica Specialist Program with Recommend, sign up today for the second part and get yourself qualified for an exciting FAM. If you haven’t completed the first specialist program, not to worry. It is still available online and you can enroll at recommend.com on the “Member Education Center.”

This is a big month for destination coverage because as you’ll see, we’ve also included our annual Continental Airlines Guide to the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Bermuda, with all the information to help you sell that region. We’d also like to point out that we have published an abbreviated version of both our Egypt and Portugal blogs in this issue, with detailed versions available on recommend.com at “On the Road with Rick Shively.” Incidentally, we’ll be featuring yet another blog this month on the web from South Africa, highlighting the new Africa product that will be showcased at the country’s trade show, INDABA. So join me as I go “on the road.”

next month It’s that time again—June is busting out all over and you’ll be feeling the love as you read through our in-depth romance, destination weddings, and honeymoons issue that’s going to be chock-full of information on that always hot-selling market. Until then, have a great read.