My hotel – the Inn at Laurel Point – had dead people helping manage it. I’d heard Victoria was a great place for the newly wed and nearly dead. But I hadn’t heard read more
Did you know a five-star hotel uses 1,800 liters of water per day per visitor? That’s compared to 350 for a three-star or 326 for your average Canadian family.
Does this mean you should stay home if you want to help the environment? Attendees at IMPACT: Sustainability Tourism and Travel 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia January 21 – 24 asked plenty of tough questions. With some of the world’s sustainability experts in attendance there were was plenty of lively discussion.
More than a conference this event brought together 170 people from across Canada to discuss how tourism can grow in harmony with host communities and the environment. “We did this event because no one was doing a deep dive into this topic,” explained Paul Nursey, President and CEO of Tourism Victoria.
Victoria with more carbon-neutral businesses per capita than any other community in Canada is a great location for a summit on sustainable tourism. Organizers gave indigenous groups a prominent role – Keith Henry of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada co-chaired, the Lekwungen people performed and several other indigenous groups presented their experiences at conference events.
While attendees agreed they wanted better, not more tourism, it wasn’t clear how to accomplish this or how to spread the word to other tourism leaders. “First you need to know what you’re sustaining,” challenged Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism.
Several speakers stressed the need for government policy on sustainable tourism so it was encouraging to see the Honorable Bardish Chaggar, Minister of Small Business and Tourism (who announced $2.25 million in new funding for B.C.’s aboriginal tourism) and MP for Labrador, Yvonne Jones, in attendance along with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada.
Jill Doucette – a carbon accountant and founder of Synergy – modeled leadership for sustainable tourism explaining how Harbour Air, Eagle Wings Tours, and Inn at Laurel Point are all carbon neutral. The conference itself was carbon-neutral. Doucette revealed, “It cost $750 to make the conference carbon neutral. It would have been more if we hadn’t been on a carbon neutral boat (for the pre-conference Policy in Action Tour).”
Deirdre Campbell of Beattie Tartan outlined her goals to turn IMPACT into a recurring event with leaders meeting annually to work on measurable outcomes, “my goal for IMPACT for next year is figuring out how to get thought leaders in the same room.”
At the wrap-up session as moderator Greg Klassen of Twenty31 asked people for input on pressing questions (as ranked by participants), he threatened, “you’re all going to answer a question so you may as well get it over with and put your hand up first.” He needn’t have worried as hands flew in the air, some people bouncing in their seats or flapping their hands for a chance at the microphone; the energy in stark contrast to the post-caffeine, pre-departure lethargy often seen after three days of meeting.
Someone suggested “conferences like this allow us to save the world one destination at a time” and the refrain caught fire with other participants. Ideas flew around the room and plans to publish a summary paper by co-chair Rachel Dodds were announced.
Florence Dick of the Songhees people best summed up the reasons for attending IMPACT 2018 even though tourism change is difficult. “You may never see something unfold in your lifetime but you can be a footprint for your people.”
To learn more about next year’s event go to www.tourismlegacy.ca
IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism 2018 Sets New Tone – Click to Tweet.
How are the Haida Nation and Parks Canada tacking invasive species? Together as seen in my story, A Fine Balance, for Earth Island Journal’s winter issue.
Invasive species are one of our biggest ecological challenges but they also have have cultural implications. Black-tailed sitka deer have no predators in Haida Gwaii; their numbers have increased dramatically and they eat the understory. Young cedar trees, important to the Haida for cultural uses, never get the chance to grow larger because deer graze them.
Learn how Parks Canada and the Haida Nation are partnering to use science and indigenous knowledge to eradicate invasive rats and deer in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site by reading about the three part plan to eradicate rats and deer and restore salmon habitat here.
My recommendations for enjoying British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii archipelago are just out in World Nomad’s The Insider’s Guide to Canada. To download your FREE copy of this helpful guide click here.
Invermere hosts the 4th Wild and Scenic Film Festival November 25 in British Columbia’s newest community center.
What I remember about the first time I attended Wildsight’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival was the sense of community. People were milling around the door of the old community hall greeting friends while handing in their tickets.
Volunteers circled through the crowd selling raffle tickets for what I no longer remember, but I bought tickets because the odds and the cause were good. The festival raises money for Wildsight a nonprofit organization educating and advocating for Canada’s Columbia and Rocky Mountain’s wild places.
Pizza was available by the slice and people hovered around the bar for a budget-friendly glass of wine or beer while catching up on local happenings. The master of ceremonies – Eagle-Eye Tour owner Cam Gillies – has a PhD in forest birds and a five star rating as an entertainer – called many in the audience by name and kept people laughing while prying money from their wallets for the silent auction.
Wildsight board member Baiba Morrow flitted among the auction items making sure people got a chance to bid. I bid (and won) an item she and her husband Pat Morrow had brought back from Nepal; Pat was the second Canadian to climb Everest and the pair still help the Nepalese people but save time for working on conservation issues at home.
Many interesting and interested people call the Columbia Valley home. They choose to live in the Rocky Mountain trench, their backyards shared by wild creatures and vegetable patches, their walks and drives punctuated by deer or bear sightings.
They come to the festival to be entertained and inspired by stories of adventure, survival and exploration, and to support conservation in the valley. They welcome strangers at the event but you won’t be one for long. Between the movies, food and fun you’ll likely be friends before the evening is over.
Tickets to this year’s festival November 25 here.
Learn more about Wildsight’s mandate