Welcome to the BC Community Sustainable Tourism & Resilience Planning Program
The BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS) partnered with The Travel Foundation – global leaders in sustainable tourism, destination stewardship and climate action – to offer a fully- funded Community Resilience and Sustainability Planning program during March through June 2023.
The aim was for participating community tourism organizations to have a strengthened understanding of good practice in destination management and have practical initial plans to implement sustainable tourism actions within their communities including ideas for supporting tourism businesses and community memberes in the region with this transition.
For community tourism organizations that have already developed a sustainability plan, the program was an opportunity to add and enhance what is in place. The BCRTS invites all community tourism organizations to share with your community partners the best practices and key learnings to date.
While the live program itself is now over, resources are available for community organizations and destination leaders to refer to at any time. Program components available include:
Community tourism organizations within all six regions of British Columbia were invited to join the program, beginning with an introductory webinar. The intro webinar started with an overview of the latest thinking on key concepts and current challenges in sustainable tourism with guest speakers including Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation. Concepts included: Global challenges of planetary crises and inequity shaping the future of tourism, current trends and shifting mandates of DMOs toward integration of marketing and management, applying these concepts to your DMO’s context and using the lenses of destination stewardship to adapt organizational activities.
View the recorded introductory webinar here.
The resilience and sustainability planning program consisted of four 2-hour virtual sessions led by the Travel Foundation biweekly from April 20 – June 1, as well as 1:1 coaching sessions.
The workshop series followed a five-step sustainability planning process:
This was the stage-setting, with the introductory webinar and familiarization with the handbook and workbook.
2. Get Started
This workshop focused on taking a step back and thinking about what your community wants from tourism: the vision and ideal outcomes across environmental, social, cultural, and economic areas. We also discussed ideal outcomes by individual sectors within the tourism industry. While a full planning process would encompass a broad community engagement to answer these questions, participants were encouraged to think this through from their organization’s perspective, as a starting point for their initial plans.
3. Map it Out
This workshop and workbook exercises focus on mapping and identifying risks – both impacts of tourism and external threats to tourism, as well as mapping out potential partners including rights holders, stakeholders, businesses, local governments, community leaders and organizations. We introduced an impact management framework and discussed current impacts and external threats being faced by participants in their communities. The recognition that small organizations cannot solve problems alone, and many organizations in a community have shared goals, means that plan outcomes can be designed with partners in mind that can come together to work toward shared solutions.
4. Build Resilience
This workshop focused on adapting products, services, experiences and marketing to align with sustainability and destination stewardship, responding to consumer trends, ‘future-proofing’ businesses, and identifying ways to support businesses with adaptation. Using lenses of destination stewardship to adapt day-to-day activities is a way to make meaningful and more feasible changes, especially for small organizations. Participants shared their current ideas and initiatives underway to develop new products and experiences, adapt existing offerings, and marketing messaging that aligns with new goals.
5. Measure and Monitor
This workshop focused on pulling everything together – setting goals, selecting high priority actions to focus on, and developing monitoring indicators to track progress. Here we discussed balanced measures of success including general destination stewardship key performance indicators “KPIs” as well as indicators of effort (tracking the work done) vs indicators of effect (tracking the impact desired). Starting with the impact you would like to have can help determine the most important actions to focus on, as well as how you will go about demonstrating that impact to your audience – your community, funders, board, etc.
Peer-to-Peer Discussion Session
On June 15 the Travel Foundation held a final session for the program – a facilitated peer-to-peer discussion session focused on topics of importance to participating organizations. Discussion topics included: Overcoming Barriers – sharing ideas for overcoming staffing and funding barriers as well as engaging businesses to get buy-in on sustainability adaptations and practices; and Tactics & Strategies – Sharing ideas on responsible messaging, marketing, experience development and climate action.
The interest in peer-to-peer learning resulted in the decision to continue with a quarterly peer-to-peer exchange that will be hosted by the BCRTS! Communities can register interest to join these discussions here [contact form]
For more information or support for your community’s sustainability and resilience action planning, please contact the BCRTS here and your regional representative will be in touch.
The British Columbia Regional Tourism Secretariat is a collaboration between the following five regional destination management organizations: Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, Northern BC Tourism Association, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and 4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island).