In this interview, Glenn Jampol shares his experiences in sustainable tourism, both past and present, and the successes and challenges he has faced along the way. He also explains what sets GEN apart from other organizations in the sustainable tourism world and why it fills an important void.
The ecotourism world owes a large debt to Glenn Jampol for the work he has done over the last 30 years. Glenn has worked in sustainable tourism for decades in both Costa Rica through his work as President of CANAECO, and globally as one of the founding members of the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN). He is also the owner of two of the country’s most successful eco-resorts and a well-respected artist.
- How Glenn’s view on sustainable tourism has changed over the years;
- The key to converting the disinterested into strong ecotourism advocates;
- The biggest change in the last ten years at Glenn’s eco-resort and lodges in general;
- The main challenge of creating an eco-resort;
- The purpose of the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN), and how it differs from other organizations;
- Glenn’s major achievements and challenges as president of the National Association of Ecotourism in Costa Rica.
Glenn, when did the concept of sustainable tourism first show up on your radar?
Well, as you know, I attended UC Berkeley in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and most of us were what they used to call “tree huggers” with a sense of responsibility for protecting our planet and exposing corporate greed. From this, we developed a strong focus on changing our lifestyle and turning to what we thought were “natural” or “organic” products and unique global experiences. This incipient search for authenticity and understanding had – in all its manifestations – health at its core: We were intent on treating our bodies well, fulfilling our newly acquired goals of changing the global consciousness which had permeated and molded our perception of the world at large.
Additionally, many of us were infatuated with the quest for new travel experiences, and this longing manifested itself into the search for inexpensive and undiscovered destinations. I think it is safe to say that these global travels opened our eyes and hearts to the idea of amplifying our personal, cultural and environmental responsibility. During my travels, I became aware of the extra efforts some owners had put into waste reduction, local products, altruism in the community and a sense of long-term protection.