To commemorate World Earth Day, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) formally committed to fostering a more sustainable visitor economy as it works to rebuild the post-COVID-19 tourism economy.
Tourism stakeholders from throughout B.C., and even abroad, gathered virtually April 22 to mark the signing of the Biosphere Letter of Commitment.
Amy Thacker, CEO of the CCCTA, said the signing solidifies a long-term commitment to achieving the internationally recognised Responsible Tourism Institute’s Biosphere Certification.
“We’re very excited to be working on this,” Thacker told the Tribune. “They [Responsible Tourism Institute] will identify areas of excellence and gaps, which allows us to work with different partners in the region to set common objectives and goals, and to find resources to invest in projects and initiatives.”
In embarking on this journey, she said the CCCTA looks forward to building collaborative new partnerships, setting new strategic goals and objectives to support stewarding and regenerating the region’s tourism assets, supporting responsible growth of the sector to ensure a sustainable equilibrium between the socio-cultural, economic and natural environment.
At the heart of this is inclusion and ensuring residents, local businesses, Indigenous Nations, communities and the region thrive today and into the foreseeable future.
“Today demonstrates a commitment of the long-term values upheld by the CCCTA,” Thacker said. “Both the board and team have long led with sustainability at the core of decisions, programs and practices so it is fitting to sign this public declaration recognizing the efforts of so many, including our regional partners.”
The CCCTA is joining three other regional destination management organizations (Tourism Vancouver Island, Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association and Northern BC Tourism Association) who, together with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), operate under the umbrella of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat, officially declaring their commitment to pursue the Biosphere Certification, granted by the Responsible Tourism Institute.
If successful, the CCCTA will join TOTA, which is among only 34 destination management organizations in the world, and the only one in Canada, to achieve this status.
Thacker said the certification is based on established standards and targets aligned with the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals in areas that include climate change, environment, social, economy and culture — and guarantees compliance and continuous improvement through a private, voluntary and independent certification system — which is evaluated on an annual basis.
“Signing this declaration acknowledges progress towards Biosphere Sustainable Certification,” shared Andre Kuerbis, Chair of the CCCTA.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we commit to supporting responsible growth of the tourism sector in our region while being inclusive of all residents, embracing our heritage, including Indigenous peoples and cultures. This will guarantee the role of tourism to promote both sustainable tourism practices and development, while enhancing the visitor experience and creating awareness among visitors on sustainability issues as we look towards recovery.”
During Thursday’s signing, cultural ambassador Frank Antoine, the co-founder of Moccasin Trails in Kamloops, reminded those in virtual attendance of the urgency of abiding by the agreement in working together for the sustainable future of the tourism industry.
“COVID-19 actually made us all stop and listen, and that’s our Creator, our higher power, telling us to slow down and think about our decisions,” Antoine said. “It’s giving us the opportunity to grow again together, and that really means a lot to me.”