Category Archives: Conscientious Traveler

France’s Elephant Sanctuary and the World’s First Airport ER

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Europe’s First-Ever Elephant Sanctuary To Open In France
World Animal Protection has teamed with Elephant Haven to help fund Europe’s very first elephant sanctuary in France for former circus elephants. The collaboration between the two charities came after successful lobbying by World Animal Protection to the Danish Parliament, which recently announced its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The charity mobilized more than 50,000 Danish supporters calling for the government to take action to end the cruelty inflicted on elephants used for entertainment in circuses. The tide is now turning as 14 other European countries have recently implemented similar bans, many of which come into force this year. Until now, there has been no safe place where they can retire. More than 100 elephants are still forced to entertain in circuses across Europe. The sanctuary will be a retirement home for elephants that suffered at circuses, and its first barn will be completed by the end of summer. World Animal Protection is urging any elephant owners to release traumatized animals as soon as the sanctuary is able to welcome them. Elephant Haven has plans to expand further and build another barn to house five more elephants by 2020. The safety of elephants is paramount, and cameras will be placed inside and outside the barn with permanent security on site. Once the elephants are safely housed, a platform will also be built for visitors to safely watch elephants roaming freely and behaving as they would in the wild.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Just Opened The World’s First Airport ER

CNTraveler reports medical care is about a minute from the terminals. Last Friday, the Texas airport opened what is the world’s first free-standing emergency room on an airport’s grounds, serving passengers, crew members, airport staff, as well as the general public near the airport’s south entrance. With 24/7/365 service, the 8,160-square-foot facility operated by Code 3 Emergency Partners occupies 1.5 of DFW’s staggering 17,207 acres. It’s fully equipped with a CT scanner, ultrasound machine, X-ray machine, lab, and a pharmacy. All physicians are also board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, which means they have extensive training in both disaster management and emergency medical systems. The facility also employs physicians trained in travel medicine, who have experience in infectious disease and travel-related illnesses.
Gatwick Celebrates Historic Anniversary
Gatwick has celebrated its historic 60 year anniversary since it was officially opened in its current form. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on June 9th, 1958, Gatwick Airport became the first airport in the world to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit. The £7.8 million construction project in 1958 transformed Gatwick into a global travel hub. Taking over two-and-a-half years to complete and marking a new beginning for air travel in the UK, it became the first airport in the world to have a direct railway link, allowing passengers to enjoy a seamless journey from the moment their travels started. Increased passenger demand and the modern age of air travel, with the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 – the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin. With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK. In the same year the Gatwick Express was launched, further cementing Gatwick’s position as an accessible and leading destination for global travel. 
 
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Cage Diving To See Sharks
Cage Diving has seen a boom in recent decades and is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The chance to go diving and safely see some of the world’s most spectacular and bloodthirsty predators up close in their own environment is regarded as the opportunity of a lifetime for many tourists. Great white sharks are altering their behavior, diverting them from hunting, and making them needlessly waste energy, all because of the interaction with tourists. Australia, South Africa, the US, Mexico and New Zealand are all offering cage diving. A study published in the journal Conservation Physiology reveals that great white shark (also known as white sharks) activity increases dramatically during cage diving sessions, compared to when tour operators are absent, raising questions about the behavioral changes this form of tourism may be causing in some species. The researchers tracked ten white sharks at South Australia’s Neptune Islands with devices for nine days. They found the increased movement when sharks are interacting with cage divers results in overall dynamic body acceleration 61% higher than at times when sharks are present in the area but cage divers are not. The sharks’ interactions with the cage divers are likely to cost them a lot more energy than standard white shark behaviors. The mere presence of the cage diving operators in the general vicinity of the sharks was not sufficient to elicit such behavioral changes. These only occurred when white sharks were close to the cage diving vessels. The research notes that licensed commercial white shark cage diving operators use approved and regulated attractants to entice sharks within close proximity of the cages and provide good viewing opportunities for divers. However, operators are not allowed to feed white sharks. The interaction with cage diving tourists is, therefore, not rewarded by more food. Great white sharks are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. They are protected by governments in the US, New Zealand and Australia.
 
Cruise Lines Announce Efforts to Eliminate Plastic Waste
Two major cruise companies are stepping up efforts to eliminate a modern-day scourge of the oceans: plastic. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that its fleet will eliminate plastic straws as of 2019. That applies to all 50 ships under the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur Cruceros brands. A “straws upon request” policy has already been in place across the RCL fleet. Beginning in 2019, guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw rather than plastic. Additionally, the ships will incorporate Forrest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks. All are part of RCL’s plastic reduction strategy. “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” said Richard Fain, RCL chairman and CEO. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.” The company is doing a full plastics audit, with an overall plan set for completion by 2020. Implemented in 1992, RCL’s Save the Waves program has focused on sustainability practices. Those practices include state-of-the-art recycling centers on board ships. Equipped with shredders, balers, compactors, and crushers, their goal is “zero landfill.” Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has joined Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance. The announcement comes in celebration of World Oceans Day. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. Founded in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance is a collaboration between leaders of industry, academia and the conservation world. Their focus is on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. ” Nothing connects people to the ocean more than time spent on the water, and with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings offering that experience to more than 2.5 million guests each year, we believe this is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater stewardship of our oceans,” said Janis Searles Jones, chief executive officer at Ocean Conservancy.
State Dept. Updates Nicaragua Travel Advisory,
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability. On April 23, 2018, the U.S. government ordered the departure of U.S. government family members and authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government personnel. Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily with little notice. In many instances the government responds using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and acts of arson often occur during unrest, including in tourist areas. The perpetrators are often government-controlled thugs in civilian clothing, sometimes using vehicles without license plates. Government authorities detain protesters, and some people have disappeared. Human rights groups have documented credible claims of torture of detainees. 

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Filed under Africa, Conscientious Traveler, Europe, France, UK

Conscientious Traveler: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Lewa Safari Camp

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Today we’re featuring a very special Conscientious Traveler, due to WIT Founders Christina and John Cooper being in Africa on their annual (often twice annual) Safari Expedition!

Together with Origins Safaris Christina and John are escorting a group of enthusiastic and safari-loving clients to Nairobi, Kenya. They’ll fly up over the shoulder of Mount Kenya to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Africa’s most progressive nature conservancy, where they’ll have a full day of game viewing, with chances to see the Black Rhino and Grevy’s Zebra.

(All photos are from Christina’s emails we’re receiving in real-time!)

 

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About the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

The Conservancy is an award-winning model for community conservation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Green List of successful protected areas. Lewa is home to 13% of Kenya’s rhino population and is a key habitat for more than 6,500 migrating elephants in northern Kenya. It’s the most successful private conservancy in the world.

The conservancy also supports local communities by sponsoring healthcare, school programs, women’s micro-credit loans, water improvement, and conservation education.

Lewa Safari Camp has open game-drive vehicles that are specially fitted, 4×4 Toyota Landcruises. The vehicles are enhanced specially for comfort and photography, open-sided with 3 rows of seats, photographic equipment stands and charging sockets.
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About the Lewa Safari Camp

The Lewa Safari Camp based in this 62,000-acre wildlife conservancy features incredible managers and staff. Most of their fantastic guides are all from neighboring communities and have been trained directly from the Conservancy to the “Lewa Standard.” The camp is owned by the conservancy, and the profits generated from tourism go back into its major programs, to protect the animals and aid the local communities.

Accommodation includes 12 ensuite safari tents–fitted out as doubles or twins. Each thatch-covered tent consists of a main bedroom, en-suite bathroom and spacious verandah.

 

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They also have two new Family Tents that are specially designed for families with children. Each spacious tent comprises of an en-suite master bedroom and ensuite twin room, which are joined together by a private verandah with stunning views of Lewa plains. Family of Five? No problem, they’ll set up an extra bed for your third child under 16 years.

Fresh ingredients are brought in from the mountain highlands and prepared by a team of skilled cooks. You can choose to eat separately or join other guests. Lewa is happy to cater for special diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., just notify your WIT agent in advance.

 

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The Kenya one has a lot of diversity –   Samburu you will get to see the large herds of elephant. Lewa you are guaranteed to see Rhino (not true in Tanzania) scenery always very diverse – Samburu is probably for scenery my favorite spot in all of  East Africa, truly amazing.  Lewa is just a 3 hour drive from Samburu good paved roads, is higher up so weather patterns so different.  As they are both in the Northern part of Kenya you will see different species of Giraffe, zebra, gazelles, birds, ostrich, we even saw wild dog in 2015 in Samburu first time they have been spotted in 25 years. Our guides were more excited than we were!

– WIT Founder Christina

Tune in Wednesday to see where Christina and John are headed next on their Safari Expedition!

 

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Filed under Africa, Conscientious Traveler, Kenya, Kenya

Responsible Tourism: Tips for a Responsible Traveler

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Over-Tourism has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, with recent developments in Barcelona and Italy designed to curb the impact of tourism on the local economy and geography.

So what is Responsible Tourism?

A responsible tourist is simply someone aware of local customs, laws and behavior. Travelers are essentially guests in another country. By treating the host country with respect, you can have a more authentic, culturally immersive, and ultimately ethical trip.

Read More: Last-Chance Tourism

Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be as drastic as never flying a jumbo jet because of carbon emissions. While admirable, that’s just not realistic for most travelers. It can be as simple as staying mindful of another country’s culture and society before you arrive.

Here are some tips from us on how to be a Responsible Traveler:

Travel Tips

Educate yourself

Before you even book your trip, educate yourself. Read all about the country’s particular customs, so you can avoid a faux pas. Book your trip with an environmentally or socially conscientious tour organization. Willamette Intl Travel runs a monthly blog called the Conscientious Traveler where we highlight ethical tour organizations whom we work with. Responsible tour operators support humanitarian and/or environment work in the countries they arrange trips in, and sometimes even involve the traveler in these endeavors. 

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Keep it Local

As a traveler, where you spend your money can have a huge impact on the local economy. Eat at a local restaurant instead of a national or international chain, stay in a family-run guesthouse instead of a multinational hotel, and purchase a little handmade item from a street vendor, not something mass-produced from those nickel-and-dime souvenir shops. If you hire a socially conscious tour operator, they will, in turn, hire local guides and staff, use local transportation and accommodation, and recommend local eateries.

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Wildlife Activities

Wildlife tourism is big business, and exploitation that leads to a lifetime of distress is depressingly widespread. We often book clients for one-of-a-kind activities in Africa or Asia, where travelers encounter wild, incredible and exotic animals—and we work with responsible and sustainable tour operators who treat the animals fairly and kindly.

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Respect the local culture

You’re right – that’s not how they do it at home. But as a responsible traveler, you’re there to learn and experience—not to pass judgment. Know what’s polite and what’s rude—be mindful of your clothes and your behavior. Take the time to learn a bit of the language, even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” Ask before you take a photograph of a person or their belongings—not only is it common courtesy, you might just make a deeper connection. 

Find out more about customs for individual countries in the Culture Crossing Guide.

Have questions about Travel? You’ve come to the right place! Call our travel agency in Portland to learn more: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Conscientious Traveler, Europe

Conscientious Traveler: Lindblad Expeditions

Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. This month May is all about Lindblad Expeditions!

Lindblad Expeditions offers cruises emphasizing eco-tourism, adventure and conservation efforts around the globe. Travelers choose the cruise line for their on-ship education and intimate experiences with amazing wildlife and environments. They’ve partnered up with National Geographic to showcase earth-friendly destinations and projects around the globe.

Lindblad has raised more than $12 million to conversation initiatives worldwide. Projects cover everything from community development to ecological programs in Antarctica, Baja, Galapagos, Patagonia, Amazon and other areas around the globe.

Click here to read in-depth of all the donated programs!

Willamette Intl Travel has sent clients on Lindblad Expeditions for years now. Call now for an appointment to find out more! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Lindblad Expeditions, Travel by Ship

Conscientious Traveler: G Adventures

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Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. January is all about G Adventures!

It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, the perfect time to visit the Land Downunder and catch a glimpse of the Southern Cross! G Adventures hosts a variety of escorted tours (both luxury and backpacker-style) in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and spectacular expeditions to Antarctica. Call Willamette Intl Travel (503-224-0180 | info@wittravel.com) to find out more about the fun and affordable tours G Adv that offers.

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G Adventures is also the founder and close partner of the Planeterra Foundation, a nonprofit designed to enrich communities touched by tourism in a sustainable way. G Adventures sees tourism as “a force for global good,” and we at Willamette Intl Travel agree. Though we’ve covered Planeterra on our blog before (way back in 2012!), we’re happy to feature them again!

Planeterra works directly with G Adventures to minimize harmful impact on destinations, promote economic growth and small local businesses, and ensure that all animals encountered on G Adv tours are treated humanely. They are working in over thirty projects empowering women, encouraging craft cooperatives, conserving cultures.

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In the “Oodles of Noodles” project in Hoi An, Vietnam, G Adventures works with STREETS International. This curriculum is a way for Vietnamese students to lead a noodle-making class with travelers, practicing their English and presentation skills.

In the “Moshi Mobile Mamas” project in Moshi, Tanzania, Planeterra works with a free and women-only business school. Their curriculum includes business management, accounting, and English, plus a seed fund for graduates to start their own business.

In the “Mayan Community Homestay,” in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala, Planeterra works with the local communication in Lake Atitlan to develop a homestay program for travelers. They also promote local businesses centered around tourism including an art gallery, a medicinal shop, weaving co-ops, and a Temazcal steam bath.

Go to planeterra.org to find out more or to donate. There’s no question about it–G Adventures certainly is a Conscientious Traveler!

Thinking of going on a G Adventure? Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com and we can get started on your adventure!

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Filed under Australia, Conscientious Traveler, Europe, G Adventures, New Zealand, Oceania

Conscientious Traveler: Bruce Mate (& Uncruise Adventures)

Baja (142)Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports the environment and wildlife. This month is all about Bruce Mate!

Call to all Potential Sailors: Join Bruce Mate — February 24, 2018!

Every year, Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute Director Bruce Mate and his wife Mary Lou lead a natural history trip down to Baja California. In 2018, he’s sailing back down to this area with UnCruise Adventures, joined by a team of interested individuals (such as yourself? read on!). Bruce has conducted marine mammal research since 1967, including determining the migration routes of sea lions along the west coast of the United States. He started in the Baja region with whale tagging work way back in 1979, and knows the area and its wildlife intimately. 

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So what makes 2018 so special?

YOU TOO can join Bruce Mate, whale expert, on that year’s annual sail down to Baja. Learn all about gray whales and whale sharks from one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading experts, all in the comfort and accessibility of a small cruise ship. We have fourteen open spaces left–can you fill one of them? Bring a friend or loved one, and fill two spaces! 

We already have 34 passengers confirmed to join him–but we still have 14 open spaces left! That’s in a ship that carries a total of 84 passengers. Call us up to join this rare, once in a lifetime cruise! 503-224-1080 or email info@wittravel.com for the details. Check out the on sailing on UnCruise Adventure’s website

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Need to Hear a Firsthand Experience?

WIT Agents Barbara and Racheal are now cruising with Uncruise Adventures down in Baja. We’re super excited for them and happy to hear all about it when they get back!

Missed our previous post about it? Click here.

Starting next week—when Barb and Racheal are back, you’ll be able to hear all about the cruise from a firsthand perspective!

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Conscientious Traveler: Goway

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Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler—our monthly series in which we showcase one of our fantastic partners with projects that support the environment, wildlife and local communities. This month, we feature Goway

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Goway is one of our favorite trusted vendors specializing in fully customizable trips around the world. We have worked with them for years organizing trips for our clients to Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan and more.

Goway has supported many foundations over the years, donating to causes that benefit local communities, cultures, wildlife and the environment. Here are just a handful:

tourismcareslogoTourism Cares. Goway participates in Tourism Cares initiatives that preserve and enrich the travel experience of travelers worldwide through giving back and volunteering.


logo_top_enChildren’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
A nonprofit that helps Canadian children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness realize their favorite dreams. In 2015 & 2016, Goway received a Valued Partner Award for their efforts to support Children’s Wish, and last summer raised $10,000 for one child’s wish at their annual fundraiser.

canadianbloodservicesenglishlogofinalcolourrgbCanadian Blood Services. Goway had their first annual blood drive last month, during which staff donated blood to the clinic.

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Wildlands Conservation Trust. Goway has made two sizable donations to the Trust’s “Looking out for Rhino” campaign, supporting the latest tracking technology fitted for rhinos.

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So you can combine Travel with a Good Cause! Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel and let us arrange a remarkable journey for you! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Asia, Australia, Cambodia, Conscientious Traveler, Goway, Laos, News