Abstract: Tour Operators Must Be Agents of Change: the case of Metropolitan Touring, Ecuador
Tour Operators at all levels must get involved in protecting the destinations where they operate. While the level of commitment may differ in our industry, there is no doubt ecotourism can be the greatest contributor for keeping destinations pristine, and a platform for positive feedback amongst explorers. Since 1953, Metropolitan Touring in ECUADOR-South America has taken some remarkable initiatives that have become agents of change. The examples shown will hopefully inspire others, particularly our carbon neutral efforts where offsetting is happening at one of the most biodiverse places on Earth: the Chocó Biosphere Reserve. Abstract
Abstract: The Unique Example of How Tourism is Managed in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador were declared in 1978 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, both the land and the ocean surrounding the islands, are protected natural resources that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. They are also an icon for scientific studies to the high number of endemic species. Quite naturally, they are easily added to most traveller’s bucket list. How much tourism can the islands hold? How can we manage such high demand of visitors in front of limited areas for visiting? Can luxury ecotourism solve the puzzle? What is sustainable for such local realities? Abstract
Abstract: From Logging to World-Class Ecotourism Lodge: Mashpi Rainforest Lodge, Ecuador
Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador has become a role model in conservation/transformation of environmental forces that integrate the local communities of the Chocó Bioregion. What used to be a logging and hunting area for extractive activities in the 1950s, is now a world example of forest conservation, community engagement, and ecotourism. Furthermore, it is where the most ambitious carbon neutrality projects reside. Mashpi Lodge fosters the understanding of the climate crisis, and allows guests to become part of this effort by travelling carbon neutral while in Ecuador.
Francisco Dousdebés is an Ecuadorian, born in Quito. Early in life he developed a special interest in natural sciences and a special feeling for the outdoors. After finishing high school in Ecuador, he travelled abroad as an exchange student and landed in the Midwest of the United States. Afterwards, studied Biology, and in 1986 a great opportunity landed right in his hands; to become a Naturalist Guide for the Galapagos National Park, and worked for Ecuador’s largest tour operator Metropolitan Touring. In 1988, he headed back to the United States, and studied Broadcasting Communications. There, he worked for the Science Museum of Minnesota, and got his Scuba Diving certification. Upon returning to Ecuador, Francisco went back working as a Naturalist-Dive Guide in Galapagos, where he developed a special interest in birdwatching, marine life, writing, and photography. He has led extensive scuba diving trips in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, and has completed over 500 dives there. Further education included Hospitality Management and was later appointed Cruise Director/Hotel Manager of Yacht Isabela II, a luxury expedition vessel in Galápagos for about four years.
In 2000 he was given the responsibility of leading the Galapagos Expedition Department for Metropolitan Touring, where he was in charge of developing the expedition philosophy, managing Naturalist Guides and training the sales staff of his company and clients all over the Americas. For many years, Francisco led the Environmental Affairs Department of Ecuador’s Metropolitan Touring and designed sustainable strategies that allowed minimizing the environmental footprint of tour operations, as well as corporate development. In 2009, he was a finalist in the Heart of Green Awards because of his environmental leadership. Attending international trade shows, fairs, and seminars has allowed him to understand the industry even further, as he represents his country in international forums with Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism. He also lectures on natural history of Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, and focuses on natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Travelling has become a passion for him, and when free time lands on his hands, he is likely to have already arrived at his next destination. Until February 2014, Francisco was the Commercial Manager for three key markets in Ecuador’s inbound tourism: Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Recently, he completed his 5-year project as Product Manager for Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II and the Boutique Hotel Casa Gangotena in Ecuador. He’s back in the field as Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Manager at Metropolitan Touring-ECUADOR, and leads the company’s most ambitious initiative: becoming Ecuador’s first 100% carbon neutral tour operator.
He loves to promote the beauty of Ecuador all over the World, and has participated in many Trade Shows, International Forums, and Roadshows together with the Ministry of Tourism and Quito Turismo. He has lectured before at Australia’s Global Ecotourism Conference, including two keynote addresses. He has also contributed as a keynote speaker at the famous Incubatour Congress in Mexico, introducing the history of tourism development in Ecuador & the Galapagos, as well as the innovative concept of Mashpi Lodge. He is keen on explaining the role of sustainability at fragile destinations, and also lectures in Ecuador’s natural history, natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Traveling is certainly one of his passions, and when time is available he has surely arrived at his next exploring destination.