impact conference

Recap: IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism Conference

This month, Tourism Kamloops attended the 2nd Annual IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism Conference in Victoria.  This conference addressed Sustainability in its various diverse and evolving approaches.  Delegates from across Canada as well as a few from the US and Australia gathered to dive into the state of the global visitor economy with a focused lens from the local perspective.

I am going to share key points as delivered by Walt Judas, CEO of Tourism Industry Association of BC in their recent newsletter; however, I’d like to highlight how Tourism Kamloops as a DMO fits into this discussion.

More so than ever before, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are evolving to consider and address sustainable practices and needs on behalf of the destination.  Thus, an evolution to a DMMO – or Destination Marketing and Management Organization – is appropriate and timely.  The Management descriptor places emphasis on how our day to day operations can proactively contribute to greener practices – recycling, composting, lowering emissions – however, we also have a significant role to play when considering future development of our destination, understanding carrying capacities, seasons for opportune growth, sensitive environments, cultural sharing, accessibility for people with disabilities as well as good governance and dedicated funding to continue our good work. 

While you might not attribute parallels between mass tourism issues globally and tourism growth in Kamloops, we need to be aware and conscious of the decisions we make today and their effects on our  future.  Tourism is the largest and fastest growing sector globally and in British Columbia.  To reap the benefits of the vast tourist dollars, we need to recognize that we are all stewards of our destination and have an active responsibility to plan beyond today.

Tourism Kamloops boldly recognized Sustainability as a key platform in our 5 year strategic plan and has dedicated efforts in the past 3 years to evolve our organization’s sustainable practices and act as a conduit to industry to consider sustainable initiative in their businesses.  To date, Tourism Kamloops has received Silver designation from Green Tourism Canada, have established the city as the first BC Bee City, worked in partnership with the City of Kamloops to plant a community garden at our Visitor Centre location, sit in an advisory position on the Impact committee, Director for the TOTA Biosphere Adhesion and provide electric vehicle charging stations within Canada’s Electric Highway.

If you are interested in learning more, please let us know. There are many small steps that make a big difference.

A few notes from Walt Judas, CEO of Tourism Industry Association of BC:

While a summary of the deliberations will be presented at the upcoming BC Tourism Industry Conference next month, some of the observations are worth sharing now in bullet point form to pique your interest:

  • It’s amazing what can be done when the local tourism industry and destination take responsibility for and control of their future with sustainability as a core principle;
  • More Canadian Indigenous operators are ready and willing to share their experiences and stories in the context of sustainability and stewardship of land and resources;
  • While Canada hasn’t experienced over-tourism like other destinations, we nonetheless need to take action now to avoid the negative backlash by residents against tourism so prevalent in many places around the world;
  • Among the keys to sustainable tourism practices are dispersion, dissemination and direct action;
  • Tourism in protected places can actually do more good than harm particularly when educating visitors on being good stewards and mindful of the cultural, spiritual, environmental, communal, and commercial value of the lands on which they tread;
  • As tourism professionals concerned about the impacts of climate change, we can no longer look at climate change through a tourism lens, but rather need to view tourism through a climate lens;
  • With the increasing reliance on China for worldwide tourism growth, industry is going to get bruised, especially with rampant development in many countries to accommodate millions of Chinese visitors (i.e. competition), not to mention the diplomatic issues that countries like Canada face that could translate into a declining Chinese market;
  • Destinations around the world are, or need to become, even more focussed on the management component of the traditional DMO structure (i.e. DMMO);
  • Hopefully sooner than later there will be no need to specifically reference sustainable tourism. Sustainability and tourism will be mutually inclusive;
  • Similarly, hopefully sooner than later, accessibility for people/travellers of all disabilities will be a given and not an afterthought;
  • Tourism is growing way faster than we anticipated and in some respects we’re not prepared;
  • Industry is good at responding to emergencies, but we need to get better at helping to prevent crises;
  • Traveling with a purpose will take hold in a more profound way;
  • While the notion of over-tourism has garnered international media and public attention, the term is used as a buzzword and is casting a decidedly negative impression of the tourism industry. We need to change our practices and narrative to incorporate responsible, respectable, and conscious tourism; and
  • The number of women in tourism leadership positions continues to grow.