Eliana was born in Cusco, Peru. While living there she focused her life around conservation, adventure travel, and the ecotourism industry, designing tours that explored the incredible diversity of nature, culture, and history that Peru has to offer with one of the premier inbound tour operators in the country. She spent over four years working in the Peruvian Amazon as a licensed guide for companies involved in ecotourism. Afterwards, she spent two years as a tour leader traveling throughout Peru leading families and small and medium-sized groups specializing on itineraries focused on history, culture, and nature. Since moving to North Carolina, Eliana has continued her career in tourism working as a travel consultant designing customized itineraries to all of South America, specifically in ecotourism, nature, and history. She has traveled throughout South America and Central America, including throughout Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Eliana is a dedicated travel pro with extensive experience in customer service and travel planning.
Travel Research Online (TRO): When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in the travel industry?
Eliana Yoon (EY): I grew up traveling with my parents and learning about the culture of my country. During my high school years, I discovered I wanted to have a career that would allow me to share the treasures that Peru had to offer, and also let me travel around the world as well.
TRO: Tell us about your role as a Travel Specialist for Marnella Tours.
EY: I am fortunate, two of Marnella’s primary destinations within South America are Peru & Ecuador, which fits hand-in-hand with my background and expertise.
Every day I’m able to work with our travel agent partners not just creating unique itineraries for their clients, but also sharing my first-hand knowledge of these destinations with them.
As a specialist at Marnella Tours my role is not only focused on the creation of unique itineraries for the traveler, but also in the development of a long term relationship with our travel agent partners. Destination education is a big part of that and it’s very gratifying to be able to share my knowledge with our partners each day.
TRO: What is the difference between “ecotourism” and regular tourism?
EY: Where ‘regular’ tourism shines a light on a particular destination as a whole (in a more general sense), ecotourism has a more specific focus on responsible travel as it pertains to the protection of the natural areas, environmental conservation, and the local communities that are affected by tourism. This type of tourism brings quality jobs and generates wealth in the local economies, as well as the national one, while protecting these areas for future generations.
TRO: How is Marnella Tours incorporating ecotourism into their business practices?
EY: With over 30 years of experience working in South America, we’ve seen first-hand the affects that tourism can, and has, had. As with many in our industry, we understand the importance of the role we play in protecting and conserving these regions that we work within. Whether it be in the more obvious and delicate areas like the Galapagos Islands, the Patagonia, or the Amazon basin, or the more developed cities like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, or Lima, the priority to protect it does not change.
For this reason we’ve always made it a point to align ourselves with lodges, cruise operators, and and local service providers in each country that share our beliefs in protecting what is vital to so many of us.
TRO: Where does your passion for nature, history, and culture stem from?
EY: Growing up in a country with a rich history and environment, it came very natural to me to fall in love with it, and feel proud of it. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by people that have a lot of knowledge about culture and history, as well as people that were passionate about protecting nature and who allowed me to be part of their world.
TRO: What sets Marnella Tours apart from other tourism companies?
EY: Since its creation in 1981, Marnella Tours has been a family owned company, now in the 2nd generation, with its roots in the travel industry.
From the professional standpoint, most of us come with backgrounds in the airline industry, hotels, guide services, and, like myself, from local tour operators. This gives us a wide perspective on all aspects of what goes into developing our programs and how each part works with the other.
From a personal standpoint, we all have family roots within South America as well. Whether it be Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, or Ecuador, all of our destinations come with a personal connection for each of us.
TRO: What can a travel agent expect when they book a tour with Marnella?
EY: First and foremost, our travel agent partners can expect to have a very passionate agent working with them, and for them. Our travel agent partners always have their client’s best interests as their priority, and they will find that we share that priority with them as well. First-hand destination knowledge is also key: any agent who works with us will come out of the experience with an in-depth education on the destinations we offer, and their clients will come out with not just a vacation, but a memorable life experience!
TRO: What has been your favorite travel destination?
EY: I don’t necessarily have a favorite destination. I’ve found that each one of the places that I visited has their own unique beauty, interesting history, wonderful people, and are priceless in their own way. Of course, on a personal level, and for obvious reasons, I’m probably a little biased toward Peru.
TRO: What is on the horizon for Marnella Tours?
EY: We are developing our own series of educational webinars for our travel agent partners, set to begin in June of 2015! We’ll start with Peru/Bolivia, followed closely by Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, and all of our other great destinations in South America.
We will soon be implementing a new reservation system that will undoubtedly improve the overall experience when booking a South America itinerary with us!
Last, but not least, Marnella Tours keeps growing and keeps working on unique alternatives to offer within South America so we encourage people to visit our new website, www.marnellatours.com, which includes more itineraries to choose from, as well as more useful resources for our travel agent partners.
If you would like to learn more about Eliana Yoon and Marnella Tours, visit them online at www.marnellatours.com, or give them a call at 866.993.0033.