Today I set out to find others interested in and/or involved with ecotourism. What I thought would be a quick task involving a couple emails to some prominent people turned into a nearly all-day endeavor. Once I started looking in the right places I found a flood of blogs, Facebook groups, organizations and programs centered around ecotourism, and I've been trying to contact/contribute to/comment on as many as possible, while of course throwing the address of this blog around like rice at a wedding.
I first wrote an email to Ralph Buckley, the director of Griffith University (Australia)'s International Centre for Ecotourism Research. He's published a wealth of articles and books on ecotourism, so I'm hoping he will take some interest in what I'm doing, or help get me in contact with students majoring in ecotourism at his university.
Next I found Megan Epler Wood, director of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). Her website, EplerWood International, provides information for the development of sustainable tourism and ecotourism and has all kinds of great links. From there I found my way to a University of Vermont blog that outlines, day by day, the lessons she taught in a course on ecotourism at the university this summer. She'll also be teaching a similar course at Harvard this fall, and the lectures will be streamed online, though I don't know whether I'll be able to access them without being a student. The more I find out about this woman the more impressed I am - she's been all over the world helping tourist operations become more sustainable, and aiding local communities while she's at it. I don't necessarily expect to hear back from her, but I will definitely keep following her blogs and website, from which I've already learned loads.
After these professionals, I tried to find other people like me: students and enthusiasts who have publicly expressed their interests in ecotourism and who I think would genuinely be interested in hearing about what I'm doing. I found the page for TIES on Facebook and responded to a few of the discussions on there, then did the same for a general Ecotourism page. I also found a great blog, Ecotourism: Taking Pictures and Leaving Footprints, by Guillaume Foutry of London, and directed him to my blog as well. I was really impressed by how many discussions and blogs I managed to find where people were asking the same kinds of questions as me. I just hope some of them decide to respond!