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  • Writer's pictureChristian Muñoz Mejia

Key Takeaways from the 2023 IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism Conference

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


Regenerative travel creates conditions for communities to thrive. It preserves the wellness of our residents, the authenticity of our cultures, and the beauty of our natural spaces. It is a transformative approach that prioritizes the healing of damaged systems, both natural and social. It seeks to leave things better than we found them, creating a net-positive impact.”
- Kayli Anderson, Synergy Enterprises

Founded by Destination Greater Victoria, Tartan Bond Integrated Communications, Synergy Enterprises and StarrBoard Enterprises, the 2023 IMPACT Sustainability Travel and Tourism Conference brought together over 300 delegates from government, academia, Indigenous communities, NGOs, clean tech, destinations, tour operators and more. To ensure that tourism is an industry synonymous with sustainability, respect and social good, delegates explored innovative solutions for regenerative tourism development across Canada.


Below are some key “calls to action” captured during the event.


Uplift Indigenous Businesses & Experiences

Climate change is not something we can solve individually. It will take collective action and relationships, ideally rooted in friendships. Many speakers highlighted the importance of centralizing Indigenous businesses and experiences to ensure that all are included in decision making. When we work together, we can affect more change and create positive ripple effects throughout our communities.


Actions

  • Go beyond land acknowledgements. Join community events and form meaningful relationships with the Indigenous nations in your area.

  • Before focusing on partnerships, begin with intentions to build meaningful relationships with no time or agenda constraints.

  • Find Indigenous female entrepreneurs you can support in your area. Examples include Bobbi Rose Koe, Founder of Dinjii Zhuh Adventures, Teri-Lee Isaac, Owner of Tutchone Tours and Trina Reid, Managing Director of Under the Stump, from the Yukon and Newfoundland, among others.

  • Explore The Original Original Accreditation Program as a framework resource and standard that validates to travelers that they are supporting an authentic Indigenous experience.

  • Explore the Truth And Reconciliation: A Resource List for Businesses to take further action towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.


Connect with People, Community, Travelers & Businesses

Tourism supplies one in eight jobs globally. Millions of people travel each year to our locations. This offers the unique opportunity to connect and educate a large scope of people. Tourism is also a community-based industry, and we can use our position to leverage positive change for our communities.


Actions

  • Focus on community-based tourism. Improving and engaging your community creates happy residents and a better destination for travelers.

  • Send out “resident sentiment surveys” to understand how tourism affects your community. Next, build a plan that addresses issues, creates solutions, and involves community members.

  • Form relationships and networks with other businesses to achieve a common objective. This could be a way to address sustainability issues, carbon reduction, and other issues in the community. We can achieve more when working together.

  • Improve accessibility for residents and travelers by supporting programs such as Recreation Adaptive Society (RAD).

  • Build a welcoming and inclusive work environment for staff. Support your team and provide career and skill building opportunities to enhance staff retention.

  • Add diversity and inclusion measures into your KPI’s to track progress.


Climate Action & Nature-Based Solutions

IMPACT 2023 unpacked the urgent need to act and for tourism to support initiatives such as protecting one third of land, oceans, and waterways for nature. Enhancing biodiversity and climate action are intrinsically linked, and tourism stakeholders are in unique positions to support environmental health and resilience.


Actions

  • Canada has one of the most incredible trail ecosystems. Encourage the use of local trail networks – promoting active transportation, responsible outdoor recreation, and connection to nature.

  • Consider biodiversity of the land we occupy – support biodiversity health through native plant gardens for pollinators, installing habitat structures such as bat or bird houses.

  • Work with local park systems and Indigenous land stewards to support restoration, recovery, and environmental education initiatives.

  • If your organization hosts guests, consider how you can educate them about local ecosystems, enjoying them in a responsible way and protecting ecosystems for the future.

  • Learn more about biodiversity of your regions – what are the keystone species? Which are at-risk? What can you do to support ecosystem health? What non-profit organizations are doing great work that could use financial support?


Thank you to our strategic partners, Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) – Canada Chapter and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), as well as our dedicated sponsors that made this conference possible. If you are interested in attending as a delegate for IMPACT 2024, make sure to sign up to IMPACT’s newsletter and receive updates about the conference.

Join the conversation. Spread the word. Be the change.

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