The RIG incorporates volunteer tourism to draw attention to saving wetlands
Architecturally, The RIG is an industrial superstructure perched on the edge of the marsh, incorporating a fully appointed ecolodge designed to withstand the onslaught of a major hurricane. It is part research outpost and part sustainable boutique hotel—elevated 25 ft above the water with views of the Gulf of Mexico.
The facility will serve as a base of operations for the scientific and education communities, as well as provide an adventure/travel destination catering to the rapidly expanding marketplace of volunteer tourism. Guests of The RIG will enjoy access to all of the attractions, culture and beauty of Louisiana's Cajun Country. They also may participate in the massive efforts underway to save the threatened coastal marsh—ground zero of the fastest disappearing landmass on earth. A football field-sized area is lost every hour. Unchecked, 640,000 acres, the size of Rhode Island, will be lost by 2050.
Louisiana's coastal estuary system provides 40% of the nation's annual seafood harvest, 20% of its petroleum production and 18% of its natural gas. The marsh also provides a crucial buffer zone to protect the state's seven major ports and the City of New Orleans from the most severe impact of Gulf storms.
The RIG experience targets "voluntourism," one of the fastest growing trends in the sustainable tourism sector that will account for 25% of the global travel market within the next five years. While estimates vary, surveys indicate approximately 2 million people volunteer annually and spend approximately $2 billion a year to travel with a purpose. 78% of millennials are choosing to splurge on "experiences" over "things" and many are putting their money into tourism. Major players such as The Ritz-Carlton and Carnival Cruise Lines now offer vacation packages that include volunteer travel opportunities.
The RIG's provocative design will leverage the power of an iconic symbol (the offshore oil platform) and imbue it with a new meaning—raising public awareness and putting a "face" on the critical partnerships that are essential to the cause of saving the coastal wetlands. The RIG will provide a physical "place" where concerned individuals, along with government and business leaders, can experience the wonders of the marsh first-hand—making real contributions to its survival and securing a personal stake in its future.
"Our aim is to immerse our guest in a truly genuine Louisiana experience," said RIG creator Robert Obier, "totally authentic, yet completely original and on the cutting edge of experiential travel."