Sunday, July 06, 2008

What is the Difference Between "Green" Guests and Eco-tourists?

Last night I posted availability on the Wellfleet Chamber blog as a guest, who was to attend the Cape Cod Institute in three weeks, had to cancel for professional reasons. So, our new Green Room is now open July 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31. I got to thinking about the various types of guests we have had over the past four years. There have been all sorts: Institute attendees, American families on vacation or couples celebrating an anniversary, folks on a romantic getaway, Wellfleet wedding attendees, eco-tourists from Europe and my favorite, “green guests,” who sometimes fall into one of the other categories as well. I started wondering whether there was a difference between being green and calling oneself an eco-tourist. Are eco-tourists green guests and visa versa? Here is the Wikipedia definition of ecotourism: Ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a form of tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for the local communities. Based on that description, eco-tourists might not necessarily choose Wellfleet. And, what is a “green guest,” you might ask? The green guest probably does all of the above. He/she cares about the environment, turns off lights when leaving a room, prefers natural products and never, never sprays perfume. (check the ingredients in your perfume here.) Green guests separate out their water bottles and eat organic food. Green guests care that we compost and use low-energy bulbs and green cleaning products. Green guests appreciate the fact that our sheets are organic cotton and know pesticides are used in the fabrication of cotton that is not organic. The point of ecotourism is to make little or no impact on the natural and human environment. Eco-tourists respect the environment on a large scale that encompasses the world, sort of like being a Peace Corps volunteer during your week of vacation. Green guests apply the eco-tourist’s philosophy to their own lives and do so every day. Here are a couple of eco-tourists from England who chose Chez Sven this month. They were great green guests, too, and left a nice note in our guestbook: “Thank you for making us and our one-year-old son so welcome. We have enjoyed our stay in Seagull Cottage, and Wellfleet has everything we could possibly want from a holiday – beautiful beaches, woods and lakes. Cycling was fun, as was the whale-watching in P-town. You have great restaurants and friendly people. We will definitely return.”