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A day-long slate of activities that promised environmental and societal benefits to Victoria-area projects through sustainable tourism was a highlight of the recent Meaningful Travel Summit in Victoria, B.C.
This international meeting marshalled the talents and aspirations of over 120 travel industry professionals from across North America. Attendees at the event, organized by the US-based non-profit Tourism Cares, came to participate in interactive activities and experiences that assist local community enterprises – especially those that encourage sustainable tourism.
Over the course of three days, attendees built relationships with local change makers, fellow travel industry colleagues and Indigenous organizations to gain practical knowledge on how to positively impact communities through tourism.
The ‘Best Yet’
To do so in Victoria was like getting “World Series Tickets” in terms of a city that is known for its commitment to sustainable tourism, said Greg Takehara, the CEO of Tourism Cares. He noted that anecdotally some attendees judged this most recent Summit as “the best yet.”
Victoria is also home to the well-regarded IMPACT sustainability conference.
Attendees headed out to discover and experience these assets on the second day of the event. They were split into four groups and transported to sites that are engaged in restoration – be it environmental or cultural – as well as inclusivity.
One of those, by Eagle Wing Tours of Victoria, was held on the waters of the Salish Sea near Victoria on a whale watching vessel. Creatures were spotted, including whales, sea otters and other marine animals. And the participants were joined onboard by members of the Songhees Nation, some of whom were storytellers with interpretive commentary. The group visited the traditional lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, where participants got a look at the impact of sustainability and collaboration on local communities.
On a mission
Another group went to a working farm near Victoria named the Sandown Centre that also features forest, wetland and meadows. There, they were schooled on the mission of the Centre, which strives to foster methods critical for the production of food that is climate change-resilient and build practices for ecological stewardship.
With this mission in mind, participants were put to work on different projects on the farm, which is in the midst of being restored to full health and productivity from its previous role as a horse-racing track.
The jobs ranged from laying down compostable materials to weeding produce beds and building pathways between production areas to
removing rocks to prepare zones for planting. All unglamorous work, but enthusiastically embraced by participants.
Another group joined Indigenous nation members at a land restoration site near Tod Inlet to participate in the Resiliency Project. That also involved more physical labour at ground level.
And a fourth group got some quick lessons about inclusivity, as practiced by the Power To Be organization.
From hiking and kayaking, to camping and snowshoeing, Power To Be (PTB) creates access to nature for youth, families and people of all ages who are facing cognitive, physical, financial and social barriers.
Go to www.tourismcares.org for more.
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