Mr. Masaru Takayama’s passion for ecotourism and ecolodge started in Costa Rica in the 90s when he was just a nature-loving traveler. Utilizing his knowledge in energy conservation, green building, natural science, and experience in the outdoors activities especially with marine environment, he founded the first ecolodge association in the world, Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA), to promote the concept of ecotourism and eco-lodging industry uniting responsible tourism and green buildings in Japan. The environmentally-friendly accommodations standard developed by ECOLA is recognized by Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Since January 2018, ECOLA has merged with Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) with all the rights, obligations, and the duties of ECOLA.
Working as a community-based ecotourism consultant, ecolodge advisor, GSTC authorized trainer, and a fully-licensed responsible tour operator/travel agency ‘Spirit of Japan Travel’ in Kyoto, Masaru serves a number of key positions in the organizations both home and abroad pertinent to ecotourism and sustainable tourism including AEN, the authority in promoting authentic ecotourism in the region supported by Thai Government under Prime Minister’s Office, Designated Areas Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) among other public and private entities. Masaru tries to apply his knowledge to the existing and emerging ecotourism and sustainable tourism destinations, tour operators, and eco-accommodation to improve sustainability, reduce energy consumption, and promote the use of the green building materials while working to conserve the nature and practice responsible tourism. Masaru has been playing a pivotal role in organizing the Sustainable Tourism Foru ms in Japan focused on the GSTC criteria started since 2014, working with a number of partners including international organizations, governments, and NGOs such as UNWTO, Japan Tourism Agency, Japan Ministry of Environment, Japan Travel and Tourism Association, Ecotourism Japan, etc.
Masaru’s action agenda is to demonstrate that a responsible tour operator can help bring tangible benefits to the communities for conservation of nature, recovery from natural disasters, and improvement on their well-being as well as contributing to preserve a tangible cultural and historic asset by converting a 80-year-old historic building Shunyoso on Awaji Island, Japan, into a community-based tourism facility incorporating sustainability. In addition, Masaru is a founding chair of Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies (JARTA), one of its kind in Japan, just established in 2018 with a prospect to accelerate the positive changes in responsible tourism strictly exercised by the Japanese fully-licensed travel agencies. Other professional responsibilities include Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2013, 2014, 2015 On-site Evaluation Judge, World Travel and Tourism Council, The World Legacy Awards 2015 and 2016, Finalist Judge and On-site Evaluation Judge, National Geog raphic, United Nations Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee Member of 10 YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme, Hotel Investment Asia Pacific 2017, judge, HICAP Sustainable Hotel Award, and Wild Asia’s Responsible Travel Award judge 2012 and 2015. Masaru has attended as a speaker at number of ecotourism and sustainable tourism conferences including the International Symposium and Annual Conference of the 10YFP STP held in November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco and December 2017 in Kesane, Botswana.
As recognition of his contribution in Ecotourism and Sustainable tourism, we are dedicating a room to Masaru Takayama at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.