Northern Ontario’s natural resources are the foundation of the region’s tourism experiences. It is imperative that it receives the very best care from current and future generations to ensure the sustainability of the industry. Taking the first step in creating a more sustainable tourism business can be as simple or as complex as you choose.
Sustainable tourism is defined by the United Nations Environment Program and United Nations World Tourism Organization as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” Additionally, sustainable tourism “refers to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability”.
There is a building momentum in the industry to adopt sustainable business practices. The numbers are showing tourist interest over the years has been steadily increasing but now, according to the Sustainable Travel Report 2022 completed by Booking.com:
- 61% of survey respondents say the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future, based on a desire to make positive changes in their lives.
- Online searches for ‘sustainable travel’ increased by 142.6% between April 2019 and April 2022.
- Three in five (62%) travelers said that they planned to stay in some form of sustainable accommodation at least once in the next year.
- 71% said they wanted to make more of an effort to travel sustainably over the next year, this figure has increased by 10% since 2021.
As a tourism provider in Northern Ontario, there are many ways that you can incorporate sustainability into your day-to-day operations.
- Events – keep it local, use all forms of recycling and composting.
- Airport – carbon offsetting and following sustainable practices in the airport.
- Retail – sustainable business practices & renewable energy.
- Restaurants/Culinary Establishment – keep it local, use all forms of recycling and composting.
- Accommodation (B&B, Hotel, Motel, Lodge, Campground etc.) – keep it local, use all forms of recycling and composting, and sustainable business practices.
- Activity Based (Hiking, Interpretive Program, Wildlife Viewing, Cross Country Skiing, Downhill Skiing etc.) – That well-coined phrase, “the only thing you take away photographs, and the only thing you leave behind is footprints” is very applicable.
- Attraction- sustainable business practices, recycling and keeping it local.
- Outfitter – Recycle, fish, hunt, etc. sustainably.
- Auto and RV Touring, Boating, Motorcycle Touring, Snowmobiling, Cycling. – buy sustainable outdoor gear and be aware of the Carrying Capacity of natural areas.
According to the statistics above, most tourists place a high value on sustainability, so opting to take the first small step towards sustainability can be a win-win situation for everyone.