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What is the deal with eco-tourism?

It’s a term being thrown around a lot within the tourism industry — eco-tourism. But, what exactly does that mean?

In the simplest terms, eco-tourism is the idea that your travel will not impact the environment. Instead, it will actually contributes to the local community.

When people travel, they tend to bring a lot of their baggage with them. And no, I’m not talking about emotional baggage or your carry-on.

Tourists tend to focus on only one thing. Sightseeing. They want to hit the most popular destinations, take perfectly filtered images for their Instagram account at the nicest restaurants, or visit franchise stores to do some shopping. These tourists take taxis, trains, and planes, and sometimes even use products with dangerous chemicals that could contaminate oceans. Don’t even get me started on the number of plastic straws used in beverages.

Most tourists create a carbon footprint that has the potential to damage a community, especially in remote locations or islands that depend on their natural beauty to attract revenue. While there isn’t much that can be done about completely eliminating this footprint, there is a way to reduce it. The answer is, obviously, eco-tourism.

According to the International Ecotourism Society, for an activity to be a part of “eco-tourism”, it has to have an educational aspect. It should promote conservation and community, while trying to adopt sustainable practices. Guides and participants must recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People There should also be some financial benefit towards these practices. 

The activities must also operate within low-impact facilities.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) describes eco-tourism as “environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples.”

The definitions are still open to interpretation. Some agencies choose to describe any nature-related activity or tour as eco-tourism. For example, whale watching in Hawaii is described as an eco-tourist activity. However, the cruise boat itself could be impacting the ecosystem below the surface of the water. A more ecologically-friendly activity would be to kayak or canoe the waters with a guide who talks about the wildlife or the conservation techniques in place to protect the natural beauty of an area.

Tourists can take tours of plantations or farms; but they can also participate for a day, learning hands on how food grows and gets to their plate. Visit an indigenous settlement and listen to stories from the community. If you go on a nature walk, stick to trails — don’t wander into a natural environment without a guide. Remember, the purpose of eco-tourism is to learn and give back to the community.

Here are three eco-tourism activities you can do in Ontario:

  • Redwing Institute Culture and Nature Discovery Walk: Take this 3-hour journey and learn about the Indigenous people of Humber Valley. Participants will explore the river valley, participate in a traditional ceremony, sample food and music, and explore history through oral storytelling. Part of the fees go towards a skill-development program for women from the Indigenous community living in Toronto.
  • Visit a Biosphere Reserve: Wilderness Eco-Adventures offers half and full day guided excursions of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Reserve. Climb cliffs, explore caves, and see rare wildlife. They also offer more intensive workshops where you can learn a new skill like geology or bushcraft. Looking for a challenge? Spend three nights under the stars this winter. Proceeds support the Biosphere Association’s environmental projects.
  • EcoCab through Toronto: Instead of taking a bus or renting a car, see downtown Toronto up close with a pedal-powered bicycle. Don’t worry about the physical activity as each tour guide will also be your navigator and official pedal-er). There are four routes to choose from.

Have you participated in eco-tourism? Let us know what your experience was like in the comments below!

3 ways to experience underwater tourism

Is water your life? Do your vacations often consist of snorkling or surfing? Are you the kind of person that spends 90 per cent of their time on the beach? If so, then maybe you are ready for a more unique kind of vacation — something a little more remote, quiet, and truly close to the water?

Let me present underwater tourism, one of the newest (albeit most expensive) types of vacation. These hotels, restaurants, clubs, and museums are all set under the water, meaning that participants get a spectacular view of sea life while enjoying all the luxury of a resort.

Interested in learning more? Here are three types of things you can do underwater during your next holiday:

Sleep underwater

People are spending thousands of dollars to sleep hanging from cliffs or in glass igloos in the middle of a remote forest in winter. Staying in a normal hotel is considered tame. If you are going to travel, why not do something truly unique? There are numerous companies that actually offer luxury suites on submarines. For example, Oliver’s Travel launched “Lovers Deep”, a submarine that plays host to couples looking for a remote and isolated, romantic, adventure.

Cost for a night in Lovers Deep is £175,000 (Euro). 

There are also resorts that specialize in underwater hospitality. The Manta Resort in Pemba, a remote island off the coast of Africa, offers an Underwater Room accessible only by boat. The room, or more accurately the floating island, has three levels and is situated 250m from shore. Underwater spotlights draw fish and squid towards the room, so that you can witness the magical and mysterious life under the sea. Meals will be brought to you by boat at pre-arranged times, and a kayak, fins, and a snorkel will be provided.

Cost for a night is $1 500 (US).

Most of these accomodations offer eco-friendly resources so as not to harm the wildlife. This includes advanced marine toilet systems, hand-wash basins, and biodegradable shower products. It’s less about the luxury of a resort and more about the serenity of isolation. There will be concierges or staff on hand to answer questions, arrange meals, and re-stock the minibar; however, there is little access to technology or outside civilizations. Perfect to get away from the craziness of downtown living.

Eat underwater

For those who may be nervous about spending an entire night underwater, an evening with fine dining may be the perfect compromise. Ithaa, located in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives, is the most popular of underwater restaurants. It was also the first to open in 2005. The food is prepared and cooked above water, and then brought down by servers. The restaurant serves European fare, offering six-course meals for dinner, four-course lunches, and cocktail or brunch options. Guests are surrounded by clear acrylic walls that allow them to see fish and sharks swim past.

Europe is joining the trend with a restaurant set to open in Norway in 2019. The restaurant will have three levels and a capacity of 100 people. A champagne bar will mark the transition between shoreline and ocean. The building will also double as a marine biology research centre.

Party underwater

Yes, you don’t have to commit to a meal or an overnight stay if you want to try the underwater experience. Instead, sip cocktails and be entertained at an underwater club with live music and dancing. There aren’t as many of these (as I imagine the movement of dancing requires quite the archeological reinforcement.

For those who want something a little more mellow, why not visit an underwater museums that allows you to either scuba dive or be transported using an underwater vessel to see ruins. There are also underwater spas and game rooms that allow tourists to play Jenga or have a bubble fight while wearing oxygen helmets!

As a general tip: make sure that you go to an underwater experience in the sea or ocean and not a river or lake. There are some restaurants and clubs taking adventave of this trend and setting up facilities in dirty water with little wildlife.

The best part is that the possibilities for underwater tourism is endless — as long as it is safe for both the participants and the fish in the sea!

Would you ever consider one of these vacation spots? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t let fear stop you from seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris

While at a recent dinner party, I was asked an interesting question: what’s your favourite city to visit and why do you have a connection with that place? I thought about it for a while and decided on London, which has always felt like home to me. It’s probably my obsession with British fashion and even the depressing weather. I heard other guests reply with places like Manhattan, New York, Tokyo, Japan, and other destinations. I got to thinking to what my answer might have been a few years ago—Paris, France.

France is one of the most popular European countries, with the City of Paris attracting a lot of attention. However, in 2016, the French Tourism Board reported a dip in tourists in the city, with the industry losing almost £644M. This sharp decline was mainly caused by terrorism fears and concerns. France is a country that relies heavily on tourism, with seven per cent of the country’s GDP  generated from those sales. Even the Eiffel Tower had about 1 million less visitors last year.

 

Paris is known as the city of love and, before terrorism became an active concern, it was seen as a peaceful and romantic destination with odd crimes and pick-pockets. French tourism does not look so positive, as a few weeks ago, in the City of Nice, nine people were arrested after a thwarted terror attack.

However, one of the worst things you can do is let fear restrict you from travelling to the places you dream of. We are living in an unpredictable world, but that shouldn’t prevent someone from experiencing other cultures or relaxing with friends and family. Here are four small tips to travel without fear.

  • Consider your anxiety and don’t let proposed fear outweigh actual concerns. As a tip, maybe stay away from overly populated tourists spots or make sure your valuables are kept safe. Try getting a small lock for your backpack to deter pickpockets.
  • Know where you’re going. Research the neighbourhoods and know roughly how to get to your destination. Don’t wander down dark streets on your own.
  • Don’t let regret plague you from missing out on a good trip. At the end of the day, you don’t want to think “Oh, I wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower, but I was too worried about pickpockets”. You will always regret not going to see this iconic and historic marvel. Just do it!
  • Stop worrying about something that is out of your control. Sometimes, shit happens. Just take every minute as it comes and remember that as long as you are safe, everything else is small potatoes.

Try to venture off the beaten track a bit and explore less popular neighbourhoods in Paris, including Quartier Chinois (Chinatown), Bastille, Canal Saint Martin or Saint-Germain-des-Pres. This way you can soak up all the food, culture, fashion and romance the city has to offer without having to line up for hours with hundreds and thousands of other tourists like you.

Will you be planning you next trip to Paris? Comment below.

Canada named T&L destination of the year

Canada has been named Travel & Leisure Magazine’s destination of the year!

The recognition centres around Canada’s tolerance, openness, natural reserves, and the country’s 150th anniversary, which brought forward thousands of community events.

“The country welcomed refugees and immigrants with open arms, and encouraged travellers to experience its one-of- a-kind cultural institutions, emerging neighbourhoods, and top culinary talents,” the publication says. “On the international stage, it’s become a source of stability and hope in a time when the news is mostly dominated by crisis and political rhetoric.”

Past winners of this title were Portugal and Cuba.

So, Americans, if you are looking to come visit Canada over the next year, here are the top six places you should check out:

Toronto

Toronto is full of tourist attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Fort York, the Science Centre, and of course, Canada’s Exhibition Centre. But, it also has a number of quaint neighbourhoods with their own history and culture that are worth exploring. Check out Kensington Market for some unique shopping finds or hit the Waterfront for a lovely walk along a number of beautiful beaches. Sports fans can watch a game at the Air Canada Centre or the Rogers Centre or hit the Hockey Hall of Fame on Front St. At the end of the day, find one of our local breweries and enjoy a pint!

Ottawa

As the country’s capital, Ottawa is very tourist friendly. Hit the Byward market on a Saturday morning for some croissants and fresh fruit, wander the parks behind Parliament Hill, or even rent a bike to cycle along the canal. The city is an art-lovers dream, with multiple small galleries, museums, and theatres. Ottawa may seem like a big city, but it’s also got a small town feel, which makes it an ideal place to get away to if you need a break from the hectic downtown lifestyle.

Montreal

If you want to get a sense of the French Canadian culture, visit Montreal. The city is bursting with art and culture, but it also makes room for modern tourist attractions. Visit Notre Dame Basilica, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal Biodome, or the Tower Observatory, but make sure to spend some time wandering the historic university campuses or taking a walking tour of Old Montreal. Eat some real poutine, maple taffy, and enjoy the multiple bars available to you. The best time of year to go to Montreal is during a weekend with a street festival — no one parties quite like Montreal.

Halifax

I don’t think any place is as Canadian as the Maritimes. The beer, the food, the music — it’s something that can’t be found elsewhere. Check out one of the city’s gorgeous public gardens, the pier, the seaport farmer’s market, as well as the many other historic sites that can be found stretched across Halifax. Enjoy the fresh sea air and take photos be the Angus Macdonald Bridge, which is any architect’s dream. The pubs and breweries in Halifax are renowned — don’t forget to try the lobster!

Vancouver

This city has a little bit of everything — access to the water, a bustling downtown core, and a number of day trip excursions. If you enjoy hiking, Vancouver has a number of unique trails that take you along cliffs, waterfalls, and harbourfronts. Whale watching is one of the most popular tourist attractions, but make sure to check out Stanley Park and the botanical gardens. If you want to get out of Vancouver, try stopping in on Victoria. It’s got beautiful bookshops, pubs that look like libraries, and plenty of high tea available for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

The North

While Toronto may have claimed “We The North” for our basketball team, no trip to Canada is complete without a trip to our REAL north – The Northwest Territories or Nunavut. While the weather may be a bit nippy, the view is incomparable to anything else you will see in your lifetime. Watch the northern lights, visit one of the beautifully serene national parks, and check out one of the many art galleries featuring Indigenous masterpieces. You can also travel along the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, which officially opened last week!

What’s your favourite place to visit in Canada?

Explore BC’s Rich History by Visiting Hope, Boston Bar and Yale

“The Rail Line is an Amazing Piece of Canadian and British Columbia History” – Yale Historic Site Management

We thought we knew about B.C.’s rich, historic life line until our road trip to Hope, Boston Bar, and Yale. The drive from Vancouver was rapturous; urban life slowed to a tranquil pace as we moved closer to our final destination. The road we travelled had long stretches of windy roads, surrounded by mountains. There was no need for music playing in the car as the trip played to its own scenic symphony. One of the highlights was discovering the drinking water in Yale was, without exception, the best that we have ever tasted.

The word ‘Yale’ can be found in two different locations — Yaletown, which is one of Vancouver’s trendiest neighbourhoods, and plain old Yale with its less than burgeoning population of 150 that was once a boomtown of 30,000 gold miners during the gold rush of 1858. It was one of the most popular places in Canada, with 17 saloons, a tent city that offered a general store, a dentist, medical doctor and barber, along with a gold panning site, a bath house, court house and of course, a jail. Once reality set in that most folks were not going to strike it rich, many followed the train out west for jobs in what became known as Vancouver’s Yaletown. Yale is known for playing a vital role in the growth of B.C. and Canada and was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago. Yale was established in 1848 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.

Photo by Tourism Vancouver

Boston Bar:

Our first stop was to ride the Hell’s Gate Tram which opened in July 20, 1971 by Habegger Engineering Works of Thun, Switzerland. It carries about 530 passengers per hour and is known as the steepest fully suspended air tram in North America. It is called Hell’s Gate for a reason – as they say on the Hell’s Gate website: “Simon Fraser’s voyage in 1808, stating in his journal that “no man should ever pass through here it was truly like passing through the gates of Hell!”

Despite being afraid of heights, it was worth it! While most gondolas ascent upon boarding, the entrance to Hells Gate tram is at highway level, far above the raging Fraser River, taking enthralled visitors on a breathtaking, if not steady plunge to the viewing platforms, which also has a restaurant and what might be the biggest fudge store in Canada. What motivated me was hearing my partner, John, rave about the world class fudge. During the descent, I enjoyed every minute, taking in the views of the mighty Fraser and Cascade Mountain range.

Photo by John Moe

Ward’s Tea House – Part of the Historic Yale Site

 “We heard that train-a-comin’- it was rolling around the bend!” Actually, it thundered around the bend within 20 feet or so of our first stop at Yale, Ward’s Tea House.

As we ate our delicious lunch served by Jacquie dressed in period costume, we were told that trains pass on a regular basis through the town. For both of us, myself being from a hobby farm in Richmond and John from rural North Burnaby, this just brought back childhood memories and sleeping was not a problem, even with trains whipping by close enough to see the conductor’s face. The Ward’s Tea House is a charming place, serving home style hot meals such as my favourite, Chicken Pot Pie. The tea house went through a facelift recently and now has a new kitchen, sitting area, and patio.

 

Yale:

 We learned that Yale helped to build Canada’s national railway in the 1880’s.

Another fun fact: In the 1860’s, with the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, Yale became the main terminal for one of the largest paddle wheeler routes in North America. The 1880’s saw the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway with construction headquarters housed in Yale. A National Historic Site monument to Chinese railroad workers is the first monument in Canada to be inscribed in English, French, and Chinese.

1870s Creighton House:

The manager, Deb Zirvini, gave us a tour of the museum, including gift shop, archives, and the Beth Clare garden. Their indoor exhibits include artifacts and photographs that showcase the diverse history of Yale. A collection of First Nations baskets, Gold Rush, Chinese and Pioneer artifacts, piano, railway exhibits and the first-ever revolver produced by Smith and Wesson that was used by Ned Stout in the late 1850s.

Gold Panning:  

If you have always wanted to try gold panning, this is the place to be! It was fun and we gave it a try with a little assistance from Crystal, our tour guide, who showed us how it works. It was an interactive experience and is for all ages. I did find gold, but just a tiny spec. 

1880’s Ward House:

Photo by John Moe.

We were warned that trains pass through day and night and we were supplied with earplugs. We were privileged to experience a night in the Ward house, which was built in 1863, burned to the ground in July of 1880, and rebuilt by Johnny Ward in August, 1880. It was like time-travelling. The house was fully furnished in period décor, beautifully restored to original condition. Looking at pictures on the wall, heavy pans that weighed a ton, added to the authenticity. I wondered what it would have been like cooking in these pots on a wood stove. The bathroom had the toilet tank high on the wall, requiring a tall person, which neither of us is, to flush. John was able to reach from his toes.

We were the first journalists to ever be invited to spend a night at the Ward House, which is quite an honour. The heritage home is just steps from the historic Pacific Railway line that was built in the 1880’s. We enjoyed our overnight stay and were treated to a healthy breakfast. The orange juice was delightfully served in jam jars.

Yale Historic – walking Tour:

We took in a bit of exercise for the day by doing the 45-minute walking tour of Yale. We went down to the Fraser River and walked along Front Street, heading past some truly historic places like the property where the original Hudson’s Bay Company store was located, the Post Office, Chinatown, the Jailhouse, and then made our way back to the Ward House.

Blue Moose Coffee Shop:

We had dinner at the Blue Moose Coffee Shop right in the heart of Hope, which offered gourmet sandwiches. With its trademark stuffed Moose to greet visitors, the coffee shop also sells craft beer.

 

During the summer holidays, you will love the charm of the locals and will appreciate the rich, important contribution to Canadian history from Yale. So why not come by, ride the Hell’s Gate tram, spend a day at the Yale Historic Site, and stop in Hope for lunch. You won’t regret it.

 

By Christine Blanchette and John Moe

Thank you to Destination B.C. for your support.

“To-die-for” Newfoundland fish chowder

In Toronto, it’s cloudy, rainy, and cold. It’s the type of weather that makes you hide under the blankets and dream of summer. The cure? A warm bowl of fish chowder.

Newfoundlanders are used to this type of weather. In fact, they probably make fun of the rest of the country when we complain about a drizzle or a light snowfall. What’s even more amazing is that the government itself provided the recipe below. They understand that even the most native Newfoundlander craves the warmth of this dish. It’s everything you could want in a single bowl: seafood, cream, and wine. The perfect combination of comfort foods.

Enjoy and stay warm!

Serves 6 – 8

  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 oysters
  • 8 oz. white fish
  • 8 oz. shrimp
  • 2 tbsp. (30 ml) brandy

SAUCE:

  • 4 oz. butter
  • ½ cup (125 ml) flour
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
  • 4 cups (1 L) milk
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) tomato puree
  • ½ cup (125 ml) white wine
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) prepared mustard
  • 9 oz. cream
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped parsley
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste

Melt butter in a deep pan. Add vegetables and brown. Chop seafood and add to pan. Add brandy and flambé. Make white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan on low heat, stirring in the flour and salt and gradually whisking in the milk. Add the tomato puree, wine, mustard and white sauce to the seafood and vegetables. Bring to a boil. Add cream and parsley, garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne. Salt, pepper and lemon juice may be added to taste.

Repost from Tourism New Brunswick:   http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/See/FoodAndDrink/Recipes/To-Die-ForFishChowder.aspx?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=owned&utm_campaign=tnb%20social 

Hamilton: The Location For Your Daycation

Can’t take time off work to go on vacation? Plan a day-cation to Hamilton, Ontario. With only a couple of hours away from Toronto, you can go on the road trip you desired– without all the pit-stops. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of mother nature or just get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Hamilton has various peaks and creeks for you to enjoy.  The best part? It’s free! You’re welcome, folks.

Devil’s Punch Bowl 

 

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It’s easy to see where this falls gets its name from. The 37 meter waterfall has been a attraction to many tourists, and has even made a movie appearance in the 2005 horror film, Silent Hill. With many haunting stories as well as its unique details, this punch bowl will certainly quench the thirst of your inner geologist and paranormal enthusiast.

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Steps away from the Bowl is a breathtaking lookout of Hamilton, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city’s gems, including Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario, and Stoney Creek Castle. (Quick tip: End your day at the lookout to enjoy the sunset with your loved ones!) The beautiful scenery, the convenient benches, and the calm ambiance creates the perfect atmosphere for a little down time.

 

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Albion Falls

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Albion Falls is the place to go! Whether you choose to stand on the top of the falls and feel the current moving under your feet or you want to admire the water falling from down below, this popular tourist attraction will have you feeling on the edge of glory.

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The steps to climb up the falls is nature’s way of inviting you to come and realize the true meaning behind TLC’s “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.” It’s not everyday you have the opportunity to sit near a waterfall, let alone in between it. It’s a great location for bloggers, photographers, and couples looking for engagement or wedding photos. Besides, the sound of the water, the coolness of its splashes, and the overall beauty of it will make anyone forget all their worldly thoughts. Did you get finish that project you were working on? Who knows!

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Tew’s Falls

Simple and refined is one way to describe Tew’s Falls. Hamilton’s highest waterfall. Unlike Albion Falls, however, this waterfall requires a bit of a hike to reach the bottom. You can choose to skip the hike and take in the pleasure from afar but like most nature enthusiasts, a walk through some greenery never really feels like ‘exercise’.

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Not tired yet? Another 20 minute walk away is a gem called Dundas Peak. On your way to the peak, keep on the lookout for scenes such as this one. Yes, there are eagles (at least that’s what we thought they were) in Canada. Who would’ve known! Their majestic soars through the sky will leave you wanting a little bit more…

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A little bit more is exactly what you’ll get. Dundas Peak provides a stunning view of the city beneath you. Filled with lush greenery, this scenery is worth the hike. Take a seat, catch your breathe, and take in nature’s beauty. Just don’t be afraid to look down!

Have fun and don’t forget to let us know how your trip went by tweeting us @womenspost!

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