Alongside climate change and pollution, the tourism industry also faces the aftermath of COVID-19, labour shortages, and precarious economic futures.
The unsuspecting solution to minimize the effects of the seemingly unconnected issues of climate change, the pandemic, lack of skilled labour, and uncertain economic times may exist when looked at through a sustainability lens. On the path to make Ontario the most sustainable province in Canada, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s Advancing Sustainable Tourism in Ontario project supports tourism businesses and destinations on their journey to a sustainable and regenerative future, providing the opportunity to enhance their current work and performance through a clear step-by-step process.
Beginning with a thorough assessment developed by GreenStep Solutions, the assessment elucidates sustainability as a future for tourism not solely focused on environmentalism, but expanding the definition to more familiar territory for tourism businesses and destinations, such as management, societal, and economic matters that need to be addressed, additionally factoring in natural and cultural aspects that provide other pertinent areas of analysis for the organization or destination, ensuring all dimensions of sustainability are encompassed and convey the interconnectivity between their concerns.
The next step
The completed assessment establishes a baseline, capturing where the organization or destination currently stands in the realm of sustainable tourism, identifying strengths and opportunities to improve. Completing the assessment often has the destination or organization pleasantly surprised that they’re on the road to sustainable tourism before even realizing it.
This starting point authorizes the next step: action planning. Destinations and organizations are given the opportunity to brainstorm goals, envisioning their business or region and what they would like to achieve. Catered to the destination or organization, the action plan can encompass focus on areas like data and research collection, expanding their reach to stakeholders, lowering operational costs, advocating for funding, relationship-building and collaboration, and education and awareness building.
As a living document, the action plan can be adapted to the needs and responsibilities of the organization or destination — as they develop, the action plan can develop alongside them.
The completion of the assessment and action planning is awarded with certification, crediting the organization or destination’s hard work and achievements toward sustainable tourism. But their sustainability journey moves forward — the Advancing Sustainable Tourism in Ontario project strives for continuous improvement and the action plan offers short-, medium-, and long-term timeframes, providing the opportunity to be re-assessed in the future so organizations are able to see their growth since they began the process.
Every member of the tourism industry has a role to play in our sustainable future — to not only improve an individual’s business or region, but to enhance the industry collectively.
As the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario leads the provincial tourism industry to a more sustainable and regenerative future, we ask tourism businesses across Ontario to support our ambition and become a Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge signatory in three easy steps.