Green and sustainable tourism is a badge that most tourism operators wear with pride, but there is a big difference between those who say they do and those who actually do.Over upcoming months, the Discovery Channel is showcasing the sustainability achievements of a number of EarthCheck members around the world to an audience of more than a quarter of a billion people.EarthCheck is the world's leading certification and benchmarking program for sustainable tourism and has 1300 members in 70 countries. The program was established in Australia by sustainable tourism experts EC3 and is heralded as one of the most transparent 'green' reporting programs in the tourism industry due to its scientific approach to data collection and its third party auditing of green initiatives.EarthCheck members including Tourism Queensland, Orion Expedition Cruises, Kaikoura District Council, Auckland Airport, Awaroa Lodge, Dart Jet Safaris, United Campervans, Oamaru Penguin Colony, The Langham Auckland, Xel-Ha, and Grupo Vidanta Mexico, are in the spotlight for the contribution they are making to protecting the environment in their parts of the globe.The coverage kicks off on Discovery World HD Asia this month. The programme, called Travel Wild, will air in 15 languages in 34 countries and will feature tourism operations in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Antarctica, and Mexico.The ten-episode series will then air in Europe and USA on the Discovery Network later in the year.The EarthCheck supported program showcases the changing face of travel, taking viewers to visually spectacular, biologically diverse destinations. More than just a travel programme, it demonstrates what tourism operators are doing to protect these global assets for travellers and the local communities who call these destinations home.Episode descriptions and supporting environmental case studies:Mexico RivieraThe Riviera Maya and Cancun are tourism meccas attracting people from all around the world. But behind the busy tourism strip is a stunning environment that hides the ancient history of when a meteor crashed to earth. From five star resorts, an ancient Mayan culture and a jungle paradise this place has it all. The episode explores fresh water senotes (underwater caves) that stretch for hundreds of kilometres, theme parks that educate guests about Mexican culture and the local environment and features at mega resorts, like Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa and Grupo Vidanta, who are their part toward sustainable tourism.Learn more about the sustainability achievements of Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa here.Learn more about the sustainability achievements of Grupo Vidanta here.New Zealand 1 - Land of the long white cloudNew Zealand has built its reputation on its clean green image and spirit of adventure so this episodes explores tourism businesses who prioritise environmental sustainability in their day to day practices. From the comfort of a camper van, the program explores the South Island and visits the fairy penguins at Oamaru and ups the ante over the Dart River with a jet boat ride to the place where parts of Lord of the Rings were filmed before heading through New Zealand's most travelled national park and the Awaroa guest lodge.Learn more about the environmental sustainability achievements of Dart River Jet Safaris here.Learn more about the green initiatives at United Campervans here.Palau - The Making of a SanctuaryPalau's healthy marine biodiversity has given the island republic a reputation as a haven for divers and adventurers. Home to the world's first shark sanctuary, this small country has become an icon in sustainability with tourism operators leading the way and demonstrating how environmental sustainability contributes to the nation's overall economic health.Papua New Guinea - The Land of CulturePapua New Guinea is one of the last places in the world where tribal culture still resinates strongly through its foundations. This episode explores how local village communities are working together with tourism operators to improve the local economy without compromising the traditional way of life. Viewers will see active volcanoes, cruise the untouched Sepik River and visit pristine islands in a show embracing the traditions and culture of PNG.Learn more about the sustainability achievements of Orion Expeditions here.Huatulco - Sustainability in actionHuatulco is fast becoming another sought after Mexican holiday location but the locals are developing their tourism products with sustainability as a priority. From the tourism minister of Mexico setting laws to local school kids cleaning beaches - this community is committed to conservation. This episodes discovers the lush jungles of Huatulco, cascading waterfalls, and the adventure of abseiling, kayaking rivers, snorkelling and surfing. This is a beautiful episode of adventure fun but it also uncovers the passion the locals have to help preserve their destination.Learn more about the achievements of the EarthCheck Gold certified sustainable community in Huatulco here.Antarctica - The last true frontier (2 episodes)Antarctica offers an adventure to a place few people ever visit and that is as beautiful as it is wild. These episodes cover 5000 miles and explore the strict measures taken by tourism operators to ensure that the islands and Antarctic continent remain as it was when it was first discovered by early explorers.Learn more about the sustainability achievements of Orion Expeditions here.The Great Barrier ReefThe Great Barrier Reef is the world's most valuable reef and an irreplaceable asset for our planet. It is the world's biggest natural-tourism drawcard so this episode questions the importance of reefs around the world for tourism and what it would mean to lose them. It explores measures the tourism industry is taking to protect the eco-system and the management processes in place to deal with changing conditions.New Zealand 2 - Kaikoura and AucklandThe small coastal township of Kaikoura was once best known for its high unemployment, but today, it's the whale watching capital of the world. Back in the 1980s, the local Iwi (Maori tribe) mortgaged their homes and purchased the first of what would become a fleet of whale watching vessels; transforming the community's fortunes in the process. According to Kati Kuri legend, Paikea travelled to New Zealand on the back of a whale. So, when looking for a means to create local employment, it seemed only appropriate for his descendants to look to the whale for a better way of life. Whale Watch Kaikoura helped rally the local community around a single focus in purpose and today, this small coastal town is bursting at the seams with trendy eco-accommodation, cafes and galleries that attract nature lovers from across the globe. The program also covers initiatives at the other of the spectrum including the significant achievements made by the Auckland airport and the sustainable tourism leaders at the five-star Langham Hotel in Auckland.Learn more about the environmental achievements of the EarthCheck Gold Certified Langham Hotel here.Learn more about the environmental sustainability programs at Auckland Airport here.Learn more about the sustainable community of Kaikoura here.The Yucatan - Tourism Reviving the Mayan CultureThe Yucatan is a place where dense jungles hide the ruins of a once powerful Mayan civilisation. This episode encounters"Sobadores"; traditional bone healers, who are using skills passed down through the generations which have found an unexpected modern-day niche in Mexico's flourishing luxury Spa industry.Viewers will see how how the Mayan people are reclaiming their heritage, and that of others, at a restored Hacienda owned by a community collective. Everything about the hotel reflects the region's rich tapestry of history, making staying there more akin to a living history lesson in luxury, than an eco-friendly place to rest the head.Learn more about the sustainable community initiatives at the Haciendas here.
EarthCheck members featured on Discovery Channel
6 min reading time
Published on 13/07/12 - Updated on 17/03/22
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