OPEN HOUSE INTERNATIONAL OHI
Academic Blind Refereed Journal
Special Issue Volume 32 No.4 December 2007
Ecolodges and Eco-Tourism:
Sustainable Planning and Design for Environmentally Friendly Tourist Facilities
Ashraf Salama, Ph.D.
Professor of Architecture
OHI Website http://www.openhouse-int.com/
More and more tourists are increasingly abandoning traditional vacation for a new type of tourism that gives them the sense of nature. Trekking in mountains, bird watching, archaeological digs, desert and photo safaris, scuba diving are some new types of vacation that attract tourists to travel to relatively remote and unspoiled areas. This type of travel is referred to as nature-based travel, ecotourism, or environmentally sustainable tourism. Such a type of tourism promotes environmental responsibility and ensures that visitors take nothing but photographs, and leave nothing but footprints. It is a responsible way of travel; an alternative to traditional travel, but it is not for everyone. It appeals to people who love nature and local cultures. It allows them to enjoy an attraction or a locality and ensures that local culture and environment are unimpaired. However, the question that remains really challenging is: How much change in or alternations of natural and cultural environments will be acceptable for the purpose of tourism?
As environmentally sustainable tourism industry expands world-wide, well planned, ecologically sensitive facilities are in high demand that can be met with ecolodges: small scale facilities that provide tourists with the opportunity of being in close contact with nature and local culture. The ecolodge concept affirms that building footprints and other necessary impositions on terra firma should be designed in harmony with natural landscape and cultural setting. With a design that respects the environment and is in harmony with the landscape and cultural setting of an area, an ecolodge is constructed using recycled and locally produced building materials. It relies on solar or alternative energies, recycles the waste and the wastewater it generates, serves locally grown and produced food. An ecolodge would be a facility that blends in with its surroundings, offering visitors an environmental experience of the natural and cultural world around them.
Research papers in this issue of Open House International intend to explore qualities and characteristics of sustainable planning and design of eco-lodges, with a focus on developments taking place in biologically sensitive areas, whether desert, forest, coastal/marine, riverine, or wetland environments. Papers may reflect on sustainable tourism planning processes and indicators, capacity building, training programs. While some papers will place emphasis on ecological design principles involved in ecolodge development, highlighting successful cases designed and built in sensitive destinations, others may explore how environmentally friendly facilities are conceived as integrated development tourism centers within local, regional, or national plans.
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