Ecoteer Responsible Travel
“Inspired in Malaysia, Made in Malaysia!.”
Ecoteer Responsible Travel is a brand under Blue Forest Travel (travel license KPL4863) and started in 2010 through the growing need for more support for the projects based in Asia associated with Ecoteer.com and the creation of the Turtle and Community project on the Perhentian Islands. Some of the grass root projects on Ecoteer.com were unable either to financially support themselves or lacked the man power and sought Ecoteer’s help to continue or improve their work. Ecoteer Responsible Travel was then formed to help concentrate resources to develop meaningful volunteer and ecotourism experiences which could help solve the specific issues for each project.
Ecoteer has since developed four project sites in Malaysia and one in Indonesia. Ecoteer establishes project sites working alongside local communities and/or NGOs to create mutually beneficial outcomes. At each project site Ecoteer has offered education and alternative sources of income for the local communities whom are attached to a project site, with up to 35% of volunteer fees being given to them for services rendered. The Ecoteer programmes also provide donations and manpower to the NGOs that they work with for example MYCAT and Save the Caves of Merapoh. The Ecoteer project sites are all run to the same business model – self-sustainable projects funded by voluntourism, school groups and corporate programmes.
To provide volunteers with meaningful experiences and opportunities to learn and make a difference.
To provide volunteering experiences that bring as many benefits as possible to the host communities and the environment which surrounds them.
Humble but confident
We listen to everyone – most of our mini projects are from feedback and ideas we have received from volunteers and villagers. An example of this is the Malays Dinners which now run at all our project sites. Listening is vital to us and then we take action, however we are confident we are going in the right direction as we host ecotourism students from University Technology Malaysia who conduct annual external assessments of the impacts of our projects. We use external auditors because they will be neutral or even looking for negative aspects in our work. Negatives are what makes us stronger, positives are just for the ego.
We care about the environment, the local communities we work with and of course our volunteers. We always strive to do our best and more.
Impactful and with a bite
After the success of our small scale projects, Ecoteer has been asked to play a significant role in developing Perhentian into a top Ecotourism destination. This is a huge honour and a sign of the respect that we are gaining from decision makers in the Perhentian Islands.
We have decided to adopt the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation’s GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE TOURISM CRITERIA, which provides a holistic framework for responsible tourism (see http://www.sustainabletourismcriteria.org/). The checklists the UN have created will be used as the tool to help us measure our improvements, highlight areas where improvement is needed and to communicate our efforts to travellers and relevant communities.
Ecoteer.com was founded in 2005 by Daniel Quilter, a marine biologist, after a volunteering experience at Sukau in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. On his return from an 8-month placement, Daniel decided to start a social enterprise in the UK named Ecoteer.com which provides a platform for people interested in long term voluntourism globally. He then moved back to Borneo working with Sabah Parks at Pulau Sipadan and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Daniel then got a job in 2008 to work on a sea turtle conservation project on the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. Ecoteer.com benefited from the recession as more people had free time and were looking for low cost long term projects and is now a favourite amongst students, aspiring conservationists and career breakers looking for work experience in the ecotourism, environmental awareness and conservation sectors. The Ecoteer.com website supports over 200 independently-run grass root organisations in over 50 countries and by 2011 Ecoteer had over 1,500 subscribing members. Ecoteer.com has been covered in various UK and global media including Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, Daily Mirror, The Gulf News and has been included in a report by Al Jazeera.
In 2008 Daniel met his wife to be Aida Ghani who also worked for a volunteer project working with orangutans and they decided to start Ecoteer Responsible Travel. Today Ecoteer Responsible Travel runs four project sites in Malaysia and one in Indonesia and is helping to promote various other projects in Asia and Africa.