Lotus Tours Ltd.
P.O. Box 1355
Manhasset, NY 11030

Tel (212) 267-5414
Fax (212) 267-0940

Sustainable Tourism    

Tourism as a friend of the Environment™

In order for this whole ‘green’ thing to take hold, it’s essential that more people take control of their environmental destinies.

Governments run press trips to introduce their attractions to the media and we run "fam" trips to inform and motivate the travel community to promote new destinations and resorts; why not consider tourism as a way to mainstream the environment by introducing lots of people to new ideas through greener getaways.

Since 1974, Lotus Tours and its member companies have worked to promote tourism as a friend of the environment. For more history, click here.

"It is encouraging to learn about the work [you're] undertaking to provide travelers with an experience that might benefit the environment"

Jean-Michel Cousteau, The Cousteau Institute         

"Green, green, green, green..."

You may be confused, if not outright skeptical, about green claims for everything from shampoos to SUVs. What is real and what is re-labeled 'green' to appeal to your conscience? How can you tell and why should you care? It's not your job to save the planet. All you want to do is take a vacation!

According to survey after survey for the past 25 years, the majority of travelers would choose to be green provided it is convenient and does not cost too much. So why isn't it possible yet to take a trip and just have it be green? That should be second nature.

Until that day, here are some simple, convenient ways for you to make a smaller footprint, save some money and enjoy your own personal mini-eco-trip on your next vacation:

  • Choose greener whenever possible. But just because "eco" is in front of "travel" doesn't mean that it's green.*   And nature tours sometimes result in the opposite effect.**   If traveling greener is important to you, check it out - don't just read the tag line.

  • For everyday travel, choose a hotel that changed to energy-saving light bulbs and sources food and supplies locally over one that doesn't. For one thing, they didn't have to raise room rates as much due to high energy and transport costs. There is less CO2 output. They support local farmers and businesses. By doing so, you help validate someone's commitment to reduce their negative environmental impact. Check the green claims of the hotel or resort you are considering. Or send us an email and we'll check it out for you against our 27-point checklist to determine a hotel's environmentality.***
For more money-saving eco-friendly tips, please look

"Your concept of 'tourism as a friend of the environment' is particularly welcome in a region such as the Caribbean with its fragile resource base and delicate ecosystems."
Calvin Howell, Exec. Director, Caribbean Conservation Assn.         

Your personal eco-tips

Send us your personal eco-tips and we'll share them with everyone.

"I am very excited about your Second Nature program concerning environmentally responsible tourism and I look forward to our continued cooperation."
Dr. Gary Herbertson, Director, United Nations Assn.         

* Dan Coyle first warned about this marketing ploy in 1992. Sticking eco in front of tours does not make an ecotour.
** Every passenger mile contributes 1/2 lb of CO2 to the atmosphere; a nature tour may turn out to be less than green without other mitigating factors.
*** A measure of a hotel's mindset and commitment to doing the most with what they have to reduce the negative environmental impact of their development and operations.

More Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

  • Whether you travel to Athens, Greece or Athens, Georgia, order locally grown food and eat lower on the food chain. It costs less, is fresher, better for you, and causes less destruction of land and resources. For example, nobody clearcuts rainforests for grazing chickens or fish. They do for cattle. To learn more, look up New York Times archives on how your hamburger gets to your table, or Google Jeremy Rifkin.

  • Conserve a little every day - enjoy big savings tomorrow. If you hang up the bath towel and make sure hotel housekeeping actually follows their own notice about not doing daily laundry, you won't be faced with higher hotel rates because of increased costs to do so many unnecessary washloads.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room, or don't complain later when your hotel rates go up due to all the wasted electricity. Hotels in Asia have a nice feature next to the entryway that turns on all electric power in the room when you insert your room keycard and disconnects all power when you remove it, making it convenient to conserve power; until hotels in other parts of the world build in or retrofit this feature, you have to remember to do it the old fashioned way, light by light.*

  • Reuse that tiny bottle of shampoo - besides saving money, most of the finer hotels provide really good quality shampoo, conditioner and bath gel that are good for you and less harmful to the environment. From The Body Shop to Gilchrist & Soames to Nirvae Botanicals and other brands that you find in your amenities basket, these products have fewer or none of the harmful preservatives you find in popular consumer shampoos because they are not bottled with the intention of sitting on store shelves for months. And if you find that there is less fragrance and suds a little less, it's not necessarily due to hard water but rather, a lack of the artificial foaming agent SLS which stylists won't use because it's bad for your hair!

  • Recycle - (a personal pet peeve), we would like to see everyone place empty soda cans and bottles NEXT to trash receptacles, until separate containers for recyclables are provided, such as you see in California and a few other places. Many communities still do not have the civic will to conserve recyclable resources, for whatever reason, but if enough people make a little statement like this every day, somebody at some point will eventually get the point and do something about the unnecessary waste. Result? Reduce waste disposal cost, reduce energy cost, reduce resource cost, i.e., save you money.

  • Precycle - it's one thing to recycle but ever so much better to precycle. With airline restrictions on liquids these days, you can't bring any with you onboard so that forces you to throw out your water bottle at the start of the flight, and buy another bottle when you arrive at each destination. Instead, carry a nice aluminum or plastic bottle that you can refill at your destination (you can do the same thing with your Dasani or Evian bottle, but you are less likely to discard an $8 EMS or Camelbak bottle).

    Even if you refill your water bottle only twice, think of the money you will save. Do you recall that latte example on the Late Show? Instead of buying 1 cup of latte per day, you would put that money into a coffee can and end up with $1600 by the end of the year! The same applies for bottled water - how much does a single bottle cost at retail? Think about it. If you buy just one bottle per week, instead of per day, refilled daily for free in the hotel gym's water cooler, that saves you $9-$10 per week or $500 per year. And that's just the money. Think of the CO2 and waste that's saved.**

Think of yourself as a citizen, rather than a consumer.

For more eco-friendly travel tips and programs, check out the following:

Audubon Society - along with designer, Dr Michael Hurdzan, were among first to create guidelines for the responsible development and operation of golf resorts and public parks - www.audubon.com

Lindblad Expeditions - a pioneer in conservation, preservation and appreciation of remote places - www.expeditions.com

Surfrider Foundation - as Audubon works to protect land and wildlife, and as Lindblad does for the far reaches of the globe, so S.F. works to protect the sea and coastal areas for your future enjoyment - www.surfrider.org

Real Goods - North America's oldest solar outfitter - is a user-friendly resource for practical, money-saving, greener living at home, from solar flashlights to home-size alternative energy systems - www.realgoods.com

Silly eco-claims
From "pioneering sustainable business practices" (Exxon Mobile has 'sustainable business practices' but they may not be so good for the environment) to 'safeguarding the environment within a controlled framework of development' (huh?), green claims are often confusing and can be a mouthful. If you come across silly, unclear or unpronounceable green claims, share them with us and we'll post them.

"Your viewpoint, of an environmentally aware friend who's been there, is timely and crucially important."
Dan Roth, Vice President & Publisher, Simon & Schuster         

* the Hong Kong hotel association did a study several years ago (before crude oil went over USD70 a barrel) that the keycard feature in the hotels paid for themselves in less than 18 months. Those savings represented savings in energy as well as room rates that did not need to be increased. The payback period on these devices in today's world is far shorter. This feature does not shut off power to the minifridge or clock radio so you don't have warm soda and blinking LED lights when you go back to your room.

** A word about carbon offsets: a check is not enough! We all breathe the same air. Why let someone buy their way out of a more responsible future? Think about it. It may cost more for cleaner technology. But instead of investing in it, the polluter saves money by not doing the retrofit, then uses part of the saving to buy an offset, and the dirty cycle continues. The only way the carbon offset program can really achieve its stated goals is for it to cost more to buy your way out than to clean your act up.

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