Tierney Thys

National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Explorer


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How can the travel and tourism industry catalyze conservation?

Every day tourism and travel expose millions of people to nature, history and culture. Can this mega-industry help catalyze mega-conservation of its most valuable assets? Are new partnerships needed? Green rating systems? Additional travel taxes? Governmental commitments?

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    Mar 17 2011: I am currently thinking a lot about the concept of Geotourism as I work on my master's thesis. Geotourism is a type of sustainable tourism that focuses on highlighting the geography of places and their living cultures. In planning for geotourism the communities/locations that are becoming destinations are asked to participate in meetings whereby they try to determine what it is they hope to highlight to tourists - these things could range from a view, to a type of cooking, a festival or a style of music. By engaging community members in geotourism there is the hope that you are creating a tourism environment that highlights why this place is worth visiting, its about conserving and sustaining the sense of place instead of creating something new or a mass tourist destination. If tourism hopes to help with conservation I think that it needs to cater to engaged responsible tourists who hope to learn something new, be exposed to a new culture or experience an environment different from their own. By engaging communities and highlighting what makes them unique, you are promoting the conservation of place while allowing it to adapt to tourists.
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    Mar 7 2011: Tourism needs to evolve. What I see is that In a sustainable future, travel will involve more people traveling more lightly to more places, with virtual ubiquity, intercultural transactions including micro-philanthropic and social capital exchanges as new norms. Recognizing that classical travel modes are already sustainable, modern tourist developments will be made sustainable through Adaptive Design, a mode of development which provides multiple (3-5) diversified core attractions/activities that anticipate changes in travel patterns. Each attraction will be optimized to flourish in differing scenarios, complementing one another and positioning destinations to adapt to changing clientele dynamics such as: local vs distant visitors, cultural/education seekers vs sightseers, seasons visited, business vs recreational travellers. Attention to making the minimum local environmental impact, and to providing the maximal local economic and cultural benefits will make these destinations more welcome in local communities, more resilient, and more welcoming to increasingly informed and optimal-experience seeking travellers.As superficial and rich guidance becomes widely accessible through online channels, the travel industry will need to evolve to provide better, deeper guidance to catalyze intercultural access and facilitate greater local benefits. Travel guidance will need to adapt to the internet-connected world to provide more personalized services with deeper knowledge and insights. Travel services that support unique, small scale and high quality experiences will be more highly prized across nearly all age ranges.Millions take travel and international interaction for granted and travel, tourism, expat communities and multi-cultural identities are becoming increasingly accepted norms. The ranks of travel-comfortable citizens will continue growing. Travellers seek increased quality experiences while expecting decreases in environmental impact and local disharmony.
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    Mar 10 2011: Hi Tierney! I recently watched your talk on Molas. I can completely relate to why you find these creatures so fantastic. My heart is sick over how they and the other eaters of jellyfish (sea turtles for example) must be suffering because of all the millions of tons of plastic in the oceans. Why is it that the most humble, modest creatures in the oceans are suffering the most? Will the meek inherit the oceans?

    The answer to your question will have millions of answers because it is a war with milions of fronts.

    I scuba dive in Jupiter Florida several times every year. In order to earn the respect of the boat captain and the retired gentleman who dives almost everyday on this boat, guests must pick up as much junk as they can on every dive. In reality, I'm a nobody tourist from Maryland. But when I come up with several bottles or golf balls, a tangle of fishing line, and a piece of plastic, at least for that day, I have instant "ocean cred" (a la street cred), and I am part of the inner circle.

    So, acting on a very personal level, the people who charter my dive experiences have defined their own system, allowing each of their guests to decide what kind of a diver/person they want to be.
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    Mar 6 2011: A catalyst can be used to both slow down and progress the exchange. Your questions are quite general without any real direction. You would need significant analyses of the situation. The TED platform is excellent though most of the larger ideas produce questions that are macro but slightly more micro then the topic itself. I will address this here. The use of situational gaps can produce a positive culture and learning outcome though in this case this will leave most users looking for answers without a direction. Specific Do we need a green rating system and additional travel taxes. Held to what analysis. Taxes on travel rarely slow tourism down as they never out weight the overall cost of travel. 5,000 dollars will never be taxed at more then 20%. Even if it is, the variable expected cost in travel and the available options never supersede someone from not traveling at all. I hope this is a bit clearer and helps others as well. There are many question on the board that situational slants that at times make no sense at all. This is the highest education we can produce and not the place for social petrovement.