Angela Nagy, president and CEO of Greenstep Solutions, a multi-faceted sustainable services company based in Kelowna. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press

B.C. tourism can lead in long-term sustainability

Facing the realities of climate change, collaboration and conserving ecosystems

The path to a long-term sustainable tourism industry must address impacts of climate change and environment restoration.

Jill Doucette, with Synergy Enterprises, says tourism growth has been a destructive force in some countries, and cites the examples of Hawaii and Peru where tourism has thrived but with little benefit to the Indigenous people of those countries.

“There is something very wrong with that. We need to collectively change our mindset about conservation within the context of growing our businesses, growing our tourism industry,” she said.

Doucette was joined by Angela Nagy, founder of GreenStep Solutions in Kelowna, for a workshop on ideas to develop a sustainable tourism industry at the BC Tourism Industry conference taking place in Kelowna on Friday.

Doucette said climate impact on tourism was a focus of a three-day conference at Victoria in January, where she said some uncomfortable debate took place concerning the relationship between a clean environment and tourism growth, and the need within government ministries to collaborate more effectively on tourism industry crossover interests.

Related: Five steps to building sustainability

“The thing about tourism is that it touches on many branches of government, but it was clear to many of us that is not currently being recognized in policy decisions,” Doucette said.

Regarding climate change, Doucette noted that Canada is committed to a 30 per cent reduction in 2005 emission standards by 2030, while B.C.’s goal is 80 per cent reduction to 2007 emission levels by 2050.

But she noted other communities, industries and countries are already initiating policies designed to enhance environment protection within the tourism industry.

She cited the example of Tofino, on Vancouver Island, which adopted a community-wide ban on straws, and France which has set 2020 for the regulatory enforcement of a ban on plastic plates, cups and cutlery.

Plastic garbage litter on beaches is an environment hazard and landfill disposal headache to deal with, she noted, and can be a detrimental aspect to tourism promotion.

She said Qantas Airlines is already using biofuels to replace jet fuel airplanes flying out of Los Angeles to Australia.

She said setting a responsible tone for the footprint left behind by visiting tourists is an important element of any sustainable tourism development strategy, and that tone has to be set by local tourism operators and governments.

Nagy said the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association made a strong step in that direction, undertaking a rigorous process to be accredited by the Responsible Tourism Institute with a biosphere destination certificate.

The Thompson-Okanagan region is one of only 20 areas around the world, and the only one in North America, to earn this designation to earn recognition

She said the process involved nearly 140 questions that had to be answered, requiring interviews with government, community and tourism leader industries to complete.

Related: TOTA recognized for responsible tourism

“Now (TOTA) has a framework in place to move forward and engage local government in policy issues related to tourism,” Nagy said.

Doucette added that while it’s impossible to plan for weather related disasters such as the flooding and wildfires experienced last spring and summer across the Southern Interior, she said we can prepare for how to react to them.

“We want to make sure our tourism guests first and foremost are safe. We had a tsunami warning in Victoria in January and most of us just slept through it, so we were definitely not prepared to deal with that kind of event,” she said.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal minister to speak in Vernon

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

Vernon PAC takes stand against dating violence

KSS to host presentation to equip parents with tools to spot unhealthy, violent relationships

VIDEO: Vernon man says stranger breaks in while family slept

Resident shares doorbell cam footage in hopes to ID suspect who raided his home and fridge

Two-car collision in busy Vernon intersection

Firefighters, RCMP and ambulance are on scene

VIDEO: Protesters set up beside Vernon highway

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP responds to countrywide blockades

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Signs at protest site say in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Trans-Canada Highway closed between Salmon Arm and Sicamous

Drive BC reports the closure is the result of a vehicle incident.

Most Read