Wednesday, May 14

Sustainable Tourism Toolkit to help operators make a difference

(Originally published in TOURISM)

The "Sustainable Tourism Toolkit project came out of recognition that the SMEs and operators needed a kind of "one size fits all one-stop shop" for practical, sensible advice on how to deal with issues like climate change, and aspects like water and energy uses, notes TIAC VP of public affairs Chris Jones.

He believes the soon to be unveiled Toolkit, which is currently being developed for TIAC by Marr Consulting (with the help of Parks Canada and the Canadian Tourism Commission) will provide loads of practical solutions for operators.

TIAC had produced a sustainable tourism Code of Ethics in 1992 with Parks Canada and the CTC, which provided general guidance on environmental stewardship. But Jones explains "we felt that in order to get action on the ground, we needed something that targeted more the operators, which would mean something to them in their day-to-day operations. This toolkit has been written with that in mind."

The Toolkit is designed to be an adaptive, interactive resource in electronic format which facilitates business decisions. The initial intent is to distribute the toolkit in a CD version. "In Phase II, we will look to create a Wiki-style website for on-line viewing and use where there will be an accent on information sharing and posted updates. We don't want it to be a thick document that sits on people's shelves and gathers dust. Yes, we will have paper version of it, but our intention is to send it out in a more interactive format."

The Toolkit will be easy to use by tourism operators and their staff. It will have different functionalities, while expressing Canadian perspectives around the challenges and opportunities unique to tourism in Canada. A business case will be made for sustainable tourism practices. It will highlight the monetary value of these practices for tourism business owners and employees. The toolkit will focus on policy, budgetary and overall strategic vision aspects, and it will have a general applicability to DMO/PMOs as well.

"It won't be a serial piece, where you have to start at the top and work through it all. Operators will be able to approach sustainable tourism from different perspectives. For instance, you may find advice on the 10 things most visible to the customer that you could undertake; or the 10 quickest-to-implement practices: what would give you the most significant reductions? The toolkit will provide a whole series of solutions to adopt."

Jones says the Toolkit is a collective effort. "We're going to translate it at TIAC and the CTC will lay it out and put it in some kind of print format. Our hope is that something like this will be picked up -- and almost syndicated -- across the country, so other jurisdictions won't feel the need to reinvent the wheel. We tried to write it with the diversity of Canada in mind, and with the understanding there are different geographic and climatic aspects and realities to Canada. Everybody has a role to play around climate change; this is our contribution at the moment."

The Toolkit is due to be released in May.
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