Conservation International Partners with responsibletravel.com to Promote Small Scale Sustainable Tourism Venues

6/29/2006

Washington, DC � Conservation International (CI) has entered into a partnership with responsibletravel.com to provide small ecotourism operators a mechanism to market and promote their destinations to consumers and tour operators in order to improve market access for ecotourism enterprises globally.

responsibletravel.com (RT), an on-line travel agent based in Brighton, England, was launched in 2001 for travelers who want vacations that benefit the environment and local people. The site allows both consumers and tour operators to search an extensive database of ecotourism locations around the world. CI has been working with many local communities creating ecotourism sites in order to help them conserve their environments, however, these smaller locations have lacked a mechanism to market their destinations to the eco-traveler.

"Working with CI, we intend to bridge the gap between the rapidly increasing number of tourists interested in authentic ecotourism and small scale ecotourism ventures that are failing because tourists and the industry are unaware that they exist," said Justin Francis, RT co-founder and managing director.

The principal area of weakness for small scale and remote sustainable tourism ventures lies in marketing and access to travelers and travel agents. Many smaller ecotourism sites have very low booking levels due to this and are either supported by donors or go out of business.

"By partnering with RT, we will be able to provide smaller ecotourism sites with the opportunity to use a branded and well-known mechanism so that they can connect and market their sites directly with eco-tourists and tour operators all over the world," said Neel Inamdar, CI ecotourism business advisor. "CI and RT will be the catalysts to help market conservation and community-based sustainable tourism."

In order for small ecotourism sites to succeed, they need to attract tourists, Inamdar added. Thus, this partnership is important not only for the small operators, but also for ecotourism in general. More interest from consumers and tour operators means additional creation of ecotourism sites, which in turn translates into better conservation of the world�s biodiversity hotspots.

The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet�s most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth�s surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth�s surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.

In addition, the CI and RT partnership will collaborate on the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards 2006 to be presented at the World Travel Market (WTM) on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006. WTM is an annual trade and consumer show held each year in London, England and is one of the largest tourism trade events in the world. It is also the only major show with a day dedicated to responsible tourism. For further information on WTM, please visit the WTM website.

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Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth�s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, please visit conservation.org.

responsibletravel.com is an on-line travel agent �based in Brighton, England�launched in 2001 for travelers who want more real and authentic holidays that also benefit the environment and local people. For additional information on RT, please visit responsibletravel.com.

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