Reconnecting with ancient wisdom and using eco-tourism to support conservation
How might looking at advancement in a linear way (underdeveloped, developing, and developed) limit our ability to learn with an open mind and experience life to the fullest? Why is supporting environmentally and socially conscious tourism so important to sustainable development and the conservation of vital ecosystems, like our rainforests?
Sharing his wisdom with us here is Marco Bollinger, Co-Founder of Lokal Travel, a marketplace for booking eco adventures around the world that support local communities. He's also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer who's photographed Beyoncé and Barack Obama, spent years documenting Lebanon's refugee camps, and danced for 107 hours in a full costume to raise awareness for rainforest conservation. Let's dive in.
This is a conversation on Green Dreamer Podcast with Kaméa Chayne, a show exploring environmental and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app and let’s learn what it takes to thrive in every sense of the word!
[2:16] What first inspired Marco's global awareness and passion for the environment.
[4:36] Marco: "It really stuck with me that money was not the answer to happiness, purpose, living a good life, and being healthy. And it really opened up a lifelong journey to explore other cultures and learn from the ancient wisdom of indigenous people... about how to heal through plants and things like that, which humans have been using for millennia."
[5:32] Kaméa: "What does what you learned about happiness tell us about the 'developed' and 'developing' categorizations we often put on different countries?"
[8:44] Marco shares a powerful story about listening to two little girls in a refugee camp sing a song and what it taught him about resilience and the human spirit.
[12:00] What led Marco from photography to social entrepreneurship.
[17:16] Kaméa: "What are some issues with modern-day traveling that you wanted to address with Lokal Travel?"
[21:41] Marco: "We realized that these communities have a great product to offer, but they don't fit Airbnb. They often don't speak English, they aren't internet savvy, and they often don't have an email address or bank account, so how do you make someone like that bookable online?"
[23:42] What we can do or look for as mindful travelers to make sure more of our traveling dollars go towards local communities.
[27:17] Marco explains the problem of land speculation when it comes to sustainable tourism.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, as little as 5% of the money travelers spend in developing nations remain in host countries (UNWTO).
Indonesia having the world's third largest rainforests (World Resources Institute).
A century ago, Indonesia's forest coverage was estimated to be 170 million hectares. Today, it is estimated to be less than 98 million hectares, at least half of which is degraded by human activity (World Resources Institute).
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To follow: Impact Travel Alliance
Words of inspiration: “There is a lot I don't know."
Health tip: "I do a lot of yoga and meditation, and I also play water polo."
Green tip: "I'm trying to travel with less equipment."
Element of hope: "I really love kids."
Words of Wisdom: "Love and hate are equally contagious. Be a part of the love and fun-spreading."