In November 2001, Planeta
hosted the Media, Environment and Tourism Conference which brought
together more than 160 media
professionals from around the globe.
The conference focused on the linkages between the environmental
and tourism beats. Discussion ranged from reflections on the
state of travel guidebooks to the ethics of environmental journalism
to suggestions for niche publishers. Most of the discussion
focused on the urgent need to improve
the coverage of place.
The event was co-sponsored by Guidebook
Geographic Traveler, Society
for Environmental Journalists and Sustainable
participation was limited to media professionals. The result
was a frank discussion and exciting proposals for follow-up
We have published a summary.
Also, several essays were published during the event: Herb Hiller's
as a determinant of travel and Holly Quan's Banff
Heritage Tourism Strategy, Ron Mader's Overview
of the Market and Joe Cumming's Perceptions
of the Mekong Sub-Region.
In 2002, Ron Mader presented initial findings from the MET
Conference to a policy meeting hosted by Stanford University:
Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas: Putting Good Intentions
Also in 2002, South Africa's Rhodes University published its
Journalism Review which included an essay culled from the MET
Conference titled The
Coverage of Place.
The conference is cited in Content Analysis of the UK Travel
Print Media and Responsible Tourism.
Follow-up work includes a dialogue on Tourism,
Crisis and Improving the Conversation.
PROPOSALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The MET Conference and post event dialogue developed a number
of innovative proposals and recommendations:
Media should focus more on place instead of destination.
Media outlets, including newspapers and magazines,
should hire editors capable of embedding details of sustainable
practice and responsible travel.
Journalists need to create a list of questions
that should be standard for a review of sustainable tourism
Participants recommended Internet workshops and
training for local leaders working toward environmental conservation
and tourism development.
Create a synergistic network of websites dedicated
to environmental travel and establish a larger advertiser base.
Encourage local roundtable discussions around
the globe which bring together stakeholders.
Participants should consider developing new publishing
Media professionals need to be honest with their
readers and the places they cover.
Media coverage should not be confused with criticism
TIPS FOR PUBLISHERS
A number of writers commented on the lackluster market for
guidebooks that focus specifically on nature travel and ecotourism.
The evolution and demise of the "Adventures in Nature" series
of guidebooks was explored in depth. When asked what the publisher
could have done differently, author Richard Mahler provided
a thoughtful list of suggestions.
Have the book distributed more widely in-country, particularly
among lodges, outfitters, stores, eco-destinations, and travel
agencies that cater specifically to likely readers/purchasers.
Make more comp copies available to journalists and publications
covering the environment, ecotourism, and adventure/nature/heritage
Actually donate a small percentage of book income to local
environmental organizations or programs that are deemed worthy
Hire or train a specialist in marketing to travel agents,
media outlets, travel bookstores, and others who are in a position
to promote the book to those with an obvious interest.
Cover the expenses of an author who is ready and willing to
do a "road show" promoting his/her new book, possibly including
a slide and lecture program at bookstores, environmental forums,
and so on.
Develop Web materials that will interest a potential reader/buyer
of a book