Our Story


  • First annual ESTCNA held in Tampa Bay, Florida in partnership with the Patel College of Global Sustainability


  • Largest ever ESTC held in Quito, Ecuador with the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador
  • TIES turns 25 years old!
  • Revision of ecotourism Definition and Principles
  • Awards the Kelly Bricker Award to Simon Omalenge


  • Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference held in Bonito, Brazil
  • Participates at “Beyond 2015: An Action Agenda by Non-governmental organizations” at the United Nations to include tourism as a significant contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Launch of the Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management in partnership with George Washington University


  • First international Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Awards Megan Epler-Wood “TIES Lifetime Achievement Award”
  • Launch of the Ecotourism Master Class Series
  • Publication of the Sustainable Tourism and the Millennium Development Goals
  • Launch of the University Consortium Certificate



  • Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) held in Hilton Head Island, SC, USA, in partnerships with Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Convention Bureau.
  • Organizes ESTC11 pre-conference workshops, including “Sustainable Tourism: Doing Good as a Market Driver”, a half-day workshop on destination marketing and management strategies.
  • Organizes a workshop on sustainable tourism business management in Grand Bahama, in partnerships with US Fish & Wildlife Service and Society for Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds.
  • Organizes a workshop on ecotourism product development and destination marketing in South Korea, in partnership with Ecotourism Korea; Republic of Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
  • Launches the International Voluntourism Guidelines Project, in partnership with Planeterra.


  • TIES turns 20 years old!
  • Publishes “Ecotourism Then and Now” by TIES founder Megan EplerWood
  • Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) held in Portland, Oregon, USA, in partnerships with Travel Portland and Travel Oregon.
  • Presents the Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Award at the ESTC10.
  • Co-organizes the first European Ecotourism Conference (EuroEco), held in Parnu, Estonia.
  • Becomes a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


  • Launches the ecoDestinations program, with the goal of connecting travelers with inspiring ecotourism initiatives in various destinations around the world.
  • Launches Your Travel Choice Blog (YourTravelChoice.org), TIES new interactive communication platform to engage, educate and inspire.
  • Announces partnership with Planeterra Foundation, TIES Voluntourism Partner.
  • Publishes the first edition of the Travel Green Guide, TIES new annual e-publication serving as a resource guide to responsible travel options.
  • Announces conference partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association.


  • Organizes, in partnership with local NGOs, “Washington DC Eco-Tour”, highlighting eco-friendly initiatives and educational opportunities in the greater Washington community.
  • Hosts a public forum “Indigenous Business Leaders in Ecotourism” in partnership with the Swedish Ecotourism Society.
  • Announces the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) as TIES’ annual conference focusing on greening the tourism industry.
  • Organizes the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2008 (ESTC08) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Announces the first Lifetime Achievement Award.


  • Organizes the Global Ecotourism Conference 2007 (Oslo, Norway), the first global gathering of ecotourism professionals after the IYE.
  • Organizess the North American Ecotourism Conference 2007 (Madison, Wisconsin), the first bi-national conference focused on ecotourism in North America.


  • Launches the Advocacy Campaign “Traveling with Climate in Mind”


  • Supports relief efforts and advocates for sustainable tourism in Indian Ocean countries devastated by tsunami.
  • Marks 15th anniversary with second “Celebration of Ecotourism” in Washington, DC.
  • Sponsors first conference on “Ecotourism in the U.S.” in Bar Harbor, Maine, together with local Chamber of Commerce.


  • Co-hosts the Traveler’s Philanthropy conference at Stanford University in California, USA.
  • Holds first Annual General Meeting open to all members in Washington, DC.
  • Begins multi-year research on tourism certification as part of Rainforest Alliance-led project focusing on five Latin American countries.


  • Participates in World Ecotourism Summit in Quebec City, Canada, organizing NGOs and indigenous groups, and offering training workshops.
  • Publishes International Ecolodge Guidelines.
  • Conducts study on social and environmental footprint of nature-based lodges around the world.
  • Launches distance learning courses and Sustainable Tourism Certification with the George Washington University.


  • Holds additional IYE regional meetings in India, Peru, Thailand, Kenya and Sweden.


  • With the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), holds IYEregional meetings in Belize and the Seychelles.
  • Launches new online magazine, Ecotourism Observer. and publishes Ecotourism: Principles, Practices and Policies for Sustainability.
  • Joins Rainforest Alliance’s initiative to assess feasibility of creating accreditation system for sustainable tourism and ecotourism certification.


  • Kicks off first consumer education campaign, “Your Travel Choice Can Make a Difference.”
  • Attends “Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Certification Workshop” at Mohonk Mountain House, New York and signs seminal “MohonkAgreement.”
  • Publishes The Business of Ecolodges, based on international survey of financial data from ecolodges.
  • Changes name to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in preparation for International Year of Ecotourism (IYE); moves its office from North Bennington to Burlington, Vermont.


  • Publishes Marine Ecotourism Guidelines.
  • Holds ecotourism training workshop at the World Ecotourism Conference in Sabah, Malaysia.
  • Works with the Programme for Belize to analyze revenue generating strategies for conserving coral reefs.
  • Produces Cultural Survival Quarterly issue entitled “Protecting Indigenous Culture and Land through Ecotourism.”


  • Holds regional workshop, “Planning and Developing an Ecotourism Destination,” in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
  • Co-hosts ecotourism training workshop for tour operators in Tahiti.
  • Conducts “Marine Ecotourism Stakeholder” meetings in the Caribbean and Mexico.


  • Co-hosts first regional forum, “Ecotourism and Community Participation,” in Quito, Ecuador.
  • Together with Kenya Wildlife Service and Ecotourism Society of Kenya, sponsors regional conference, “Ecotourism at the Crossroads: Charting the Way Forward,” in Nairobi, Kenya.


  • Holds first “Marine Ecotourism Workshop” in Hawaii.
  • Co-publishes Tourism, Ecotourism and Protected Areas, with the World Conservation Union (IUCN).


  • Launches Ecotourism News Service and Ecotourism Society Research Service; issues first fact sheets and information packets.
  • Publishes The Ecolodge Sourcebook for Planners and Developers.
  • Holds forum in Costa Rica with participants from over 30 countries to define international ecolodge standards.


  • Sponsors first “International Ecolodge Forum and Field Seminar on Ecolodge Design” at Maho Bay Camps, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Holds the first “International Ecotourism Partners” meeting in Virgin Islands to foster national and regional ecotourism associations.


  • Publishes its first book, Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Manager and popular pamphlet Ecotourism Guidelines for Nature Tour Operators.
  • Working with member tour operators, helps win higher park entrance fees for foreign visitors to Costa Rica’s National Parks.


  • Advocates for sound ecotourism practices at World Parks and Protected Areas Congress in Caracas, Venezuela and First World Congress on Tourism and the Environment in Belize.
  • Produces first set of comprehensive guidelines for ecotourism operators based on international surveys and focus groups.


  • Board establishes TIES mission and the definition of ecotourism.
  • Works with Charles Darwin Foundation to find solutions to uncontrolled tourism growth in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
  • Offers “Ecotourism Management Seminar” with the George Washington University in Washington, DC.


  • TIES launched by a team organized by Megan Epler Wood at a conference in Florida in 1989 as the world’s first international non-profit dedicated to ecotourism as a tool for conservation and sustainable development.
  • Epler Wood recruits the first board of directors and Chairman, David Western in 1990. Western and Epler Wood raise the first grants for the Society.
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