Saturday, March 17, 2007

Through the trees they go

I saw this video about Costa Rica's canopy tours on National Geographic's website this morning. Personally, I can't stand this guy Hreinuk, who purportedly started Costa Rica's first zip line tours through the treetops and then wanted to get a patent on the idea -- the fact that biologists had been using ziplines for decades notwithstanding. I can't recall what the final outcome was there -- I think he got the patent, then had it revoked after he went around with police officers making smaller tour operators take their lines down. Typical foreigner thinking he knows what's best. I thought the Nat Geo "reporter" could have done a far better job on this piece; she certainly presents a one-sided view: Hreinuk's. She says things like, he was concerned about safety of people and the forests. Perhaps, but I'm sure that big fat commission he'd get from every other tour operator in the country using his "patent" had NOTHING to do with him trying to corner the market on canopy tours in the first place. Bleh. You couldn't pay me enough to take an "Original Canopy Tour." I'll stick to the smaller operators and put my tourist dollars in the hands of those who deserve them, thanks.

While I think their idea -- to see the effects of canopy tours on the environment -- is a good one (let's face it: any development has an effect on the environment), Hreinuk's comments smack of "I know the right way and it's better than what everyone else is doing, so let's make these government standards that are so expensive the little guys go out of business." Ok, I added that last part, but if one knows the history of this guy's back-and-forth with the patent office and other tour operators, it certainly seems plausible. Of course he's "concerned," he can afford to use all of these high-tech building materials and tools; most small Costa Rican tour operators, I would guess, cannot. So he puts these "standards" in place and drives other tour operators out of business. Hmmm, that seems so three years ago! Couldn't do it with the patent office, so let's try it with government standards! And yes, I actually do believe standards are important, I'm not saying they're not. But if the government is going to enact safety and environmental standards all zipline operators should follow, they should really do their own, independent study, not one done by the biggest canopy tour operator in the whole country! Give me a break. He has his own interests at heart; listening to the man speak makes me want to vomit.

No comments:

Post a Comment