Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Eco-tourism case study courtesy of the BBC

I caught up with the BBC's new series on luxury hotels: Life beyond the Lobby, with Monica Galetti.

Description of the programme:

In the second episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti head to the Andean Cloud Forest of Ecuador to work at Mashpi Lodge, a $10 million modernist hotel featuring an extraordinary gondola cable car that 'flies' guests one mile through the jungle canopy at a dizzying height. Built by a former mayor of capital Quito on the site of what was once a logging station, 70 per cent of its staff are locals who used to be loggers or hunters but are now proud conservationists. Gloriously remote and perched 900m above sea level, guests are surrounded by one of the last remaining biodiversity hot spots on the planet.

Giles and Monica reveal the challenges of delivering the highest standards of guest experience in the midst of teeming wildlife, mud and moisture. They do battle with mold, the hotel's main 'enemy' thanks to 90 per cent humidity. They then abseil through the jungle canopy for a safety drill and prepare a unique local delicacy - guinea pig. They also spend time with the hotel's resident biologist, who has captured on camera species the area has not seen for 30 years.

Going beyond the lobby, Giles and Monica unearth a story of luxury in a surprising place and pioneering eco-tourism that is saving thousands of species. They also spend time with their new co-workers at home, uncovering moving stories of how local people's lives have been transformed by the arrival of the hotel.

We explore the idea of eco-tourism with Year 9 as part of a unit on Endangered biomes, and often ask the question as to whether eco-tourism is an oxymoron. Is it even possible? Take a look at this programme to help you make up your mind if it's been achieved here.

A few sweary moments... be warned if you're planning to use it with students.

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