Earth Issues

B.C. comes up with new tourism tools

 | September 13, 2010

Environmental stewardship for tourism operators and their clients is simplified, thanks to new developments in B.C.’s tourism industry.

The province has recently announced the development of a tourism sustainability certification program and two unique resources that can be used to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

With the Travel Offset Calculator and the Gobi Carbon Management Tool, any individual or company can manage their carbon footprint.

Individuals can use the Travel Offset Calculator to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from their air or land travels to B.C. The tool also gives tourists the option to offset their travel emissions by paying into clean energy projects or youth sustainability programs.

“The money that people pay to offset their emission gets reinvested in the province of B.C. in a series of projects that Pacific Carbon Trust is investing in,” said Andrew Dooner, managing director of Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown company offering clean offsets.

The Sempa Hybrid Heating System installed both at Sun Peaks Lodge and the Coast Sundance Lodge are two of these projects. The Sempa Hybrid Heating System works by automatically determining the optimal time to switch between fossil fuels and electricity for heating and hot water. The combined carbon offset from these two businesses is equivalent to taking 101 cars off the road each year.

“(It doesn’t) just offer the cheapest solution for heating but it also runs much more efficiently than the traditional boiler system would,” said Coast Sundance Lodge hotel manager John Histed. Since it was installed two years ago, the cost savings have been quite significant.

The offset cost also funds educational programs in the province such as the Leadership Ecology Adventure Program (LEAP) and the Sustainability Toolbox. These programs teach environmental stewardship and leadership skills to youth.

The other resource called the Gobi Carbon Management Tool is business software that makes it easy to measure a company’s carbon footprint and report it using the software’s predesigned template. With it, companies can create and implement a plan that lowers the company’s carbon footprint.

In addition to these tools, B.C. is also pioneering a certification program that will identify sustainable tourism organizations in the country.

The certification program is a collaborative project between the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council (CSTAC) and the B.C. Partnership for Sustainable Tourism Society, also known as ETHOS.
The certification program for Canada was developed by modifying an existing program that’s been implemented in the UK for 13 years. To get a Canadian perspective, feedback was solicited from 24 B.C. tourism operators including the Delta Sun Peaks Resort.

“It’s a two-way collaboration of getting feedback from the organizations to find out which performance indicators are universal and applicable to our needs and which ones need to be revised,” said Judy Adams, ETHOS’ managing director.

The audit for the pilot was very comprehensive, said Doug Avery, Delta Sun Peaks’ maintenance manager. It included evaluating a business’ purchasing practices, carbon offset use, and the level of cultural and environmental commitment with the community.

Adams hopes that once launched, this voluntary program will “give operators a clear path to sustainable business practices and really understand what it means to be sustainable and transparent about their efforts.”

The certification program will be rolled out in B.C. in November and nationwide next year.

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