At Montenegro Eco Adventures (MEA), we care and take care of the environment.
We also organise unique travels for our guests.
All of our activities are predominantly focused on the preservation and protection of the environment within Montenegro. We see tourism as the best way to raise awareness of the issues at hand, a method of generating much needed funds for community projects implementation and as a way to educate people, both locally and internationally, on the benefits of sustainable tourism development.
Our pledge is to follow the following principles ourselves, as well as use them for the selection of all our service providers:
CRITERIA 1: MINIMISE ADVERSE IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT
Environmental impact is defined as any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting from a one’s activities, products, or services.
Environmental Sustainability is about more than just looking after our natural environment. It is also about considering the social and economic impact of what we do. Having no impact is virtually impossible however we at MEA believe that ecotourism, if conducted correctly, can encourage greater environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and respect (for both residents and guests).
A key role of our tour organisers is to understand the environmental impact of our activities and the steps they can take to minimise it. We favour accommodation that has a small ecological footprint, utilise local “green” transport where possible and encourage the reduction &/or recycling of waste. Our offerings, created by locals (with input from community groups), aim to rotate small groups through different regions thus maximising the experience of the guests while sharing benefits between the communities.
CRITERIA 2: MANAGE OUR INTERACTION WITH THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Ecotourism involves some form of activity in the natural environment such as hiking, biking, scuba diving, kayaking, etc… which are all forms of physical interaction with nature.
Unfortunately, by definition “interaction” means “impact”. Increased interaction also means (the risk of) negative impact. If hundreds of visitors used the trails or mountain hikes daily, measures to limit the environmental impact would have to be stepped up and special paths would have to be constructed. If we were to consistently visit the same rural community over and over, then the social and economic impact would quickly change the “unspoiled” characteristic that made it special in the first place.
We at MEA believe in managing the volume of tourism to provide individually unique nature experiences that allow interaction while safeguarding the environmental and cultural heritage within Montenegro for the benefit of current and future generations.
CRITERIA 3: COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT & INTERACTION WITH PEOPLE
Both community involvement and, to a lesser extent, interaction with people are aspects of ecotourism often considered essential or at least important.
Research shows, many hikers say they like hiking on their own, without a guide but by the end of a hike, comments are usually just the opposite. At MEA our guides are not just about giving directions but provide detail on the geographical, social, historic, and cultural aspects of an area. They foster a deeper appreciation of the land and show clients things they would not have discovered by themselves. Most importantly, our guides will give visitors a chance to get to know a hospitable, rural Montenegro.
In the case of MEA, the locals and their culture are very much a part of the environment to be experienced by visitors. Community involvement in hiking and similar ecotourism activities provides a unique form of interaction between visitors and the local people. Visitors should appreciate the local people as their host by both enjoying being a guest and by not transgressing on the rules that normally apply to guests.
Benefits for local communities and nature conservation:
- Economic benefits, alternative employment, income opportunities
- Directing revenues to conservation and management of natural and protected areas
Public awareness and Education:
- Increasing awareness towards conservation of natural and cultural assets
- Education of local people and stakeholders on the importance of conservation
CRITERIA 4: ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVITIES
The owners and staff regularly volunteer for environmental and community initiatives. Further to this, we contribute 5 % of our profit to the environmental projects we actively support. For us, it’s more about addressing the current issues and building a long term sustainable business than chasing quick profits.
Together with other organizations, MEA will be involved in developing awareness of environmentally friendly rural management for farmers, sustainable resource use (fishing and timber) and programmes set up to motivate/remind people to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle etc. (Read more about our environmental projects for the year 2015 here).
We will provide guidance to and seek sponsorship for, community-based, homemade products and the handicraft industry. Environmental activities will be expanded as the operation becomes more profitable.
CRITERIA 5: ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
We shall ensure that our eco-tourism activities produce a continuous flow of income to keep our operations running and to continue our environmental and sustainable development programmes. To be a truly sustainable eco-tourism business, we must also operate like any company in maximising profits and minimising costs.
For MEA, becoming economically sustainable will mean that we must focus on marketing and promotion. This is likely to be our biggest overhead as we try to break into new markets but without it we will not ensure enough clientele to cover operational costs.
We will use these five criteria to regularly assess our adherence to the values of eco-tourism and to evaluate other service providers that we will work in conjunction with.
OTHER FACTORS: POLITICAL
Ecotourism stakeholders are dependent on Governments (particularly the ministries of Tourism and Environment) to develop policies that will stimulate protection of and manage natural areas. Government tourism boards and ministries are also crucial players in establishing the reputation and “brand recognition” of the country as an ecotourism destination.
Ecotourism stakeholders also depend on the broader tourism industry to transport eco tourists and accommodate them on arrival or for part of their stay. Most will only spend a portion of their time on an eco-tour offering.
Other stakeholders we will need to network include local authorities (who regulate land use and control key infrastructure) and area managers (National Parks) who are responsible for management of fragile areas.