Every year I receive dozens of invitations to attend or participate in conferences, workshops, summits, annual general meetings, gala awards dinners, fundraisers, networking, sporting and special events, festivals, concerts, grand openings, and many other functions throughout BC and elsewhere. Even though I hate saying no, I’m sure you can appreciate that if I accepted each request, I would either be on the road or out of the office for a good portion of every week.
To be sure, I try to attend as many meetings or events as possible but obviously can’t due to scheduling conflicts, time constraints, and competing priorities. Yet there are certain functions I cannot afford to miss because they’re imperative to my role at TIABC.
For instance, last week I spent a few days in Victoria to participate in the annual Impact Sustainability Travel & Tourism Summit. This week I was in Seattle for the inaugural CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Pacific Northwest Cruise Symposium with well over 300 delegates, including several TIABC members.
Both events focussed on sustainability, which is of keen importance to TIABC given that sustainability was identified by our members to be the second highest priority for us to focus on in 2024.
Although the organizers of Impact produce a comprehensive summary of the various sessions to be released within the next few months, I purposely took a few notes to pass along in the interim. Allow me to list a handful of key points (in no particular order) that resonated with me.
- We can’t deny that the travel industry has real impact on our planet. However, we need to ensure that the positives and negatives balance.
- Because as destinations we often compete so aggressively, we’re missing a massive opportunity to leverage the power of connection and the opportunity to work together.
- If we collaborate globally, we can harness the myriad of sustainable solutions.
- Tourism is an industry that has plenty to contribute. Ultimately it should be about enhancing the world of people who live in every community.
- In the context of sustainability, it’s vital that we move away from growing visitor volume and instead focus on attracting the right visitor.
- As an industry, we need to change the narrative that suggests tourism is the problem to tourism is a big part of the solution for environmental, cultural, and social change.
- We need to let more people know of the innovation and advancements in sustainability and trumpet these solutions to instigate policy changes and encourage investment by both government and the private sector.
- There is no need for everyone to be a sustainability expert but taking small, incremental steps to be more sustainable helps.
Clearly there was much more discussed and presented but for me these points were a good reminder and motivator of what we individually and collectively need to do as a sector. Similarly, at the CLIA Cruise Symposium, I jotted down some things that jumped out at me. Again, in no particular order:
- Cruise lines are shifting to sustainable education experiences given that 50% of cruisers are making travel decisions based on environmental impacts.
- In the context of sustainability, the worldwide cruise industry has invested $36 billion in new technologies since 2019 to work toward reducing GHG emissions today and in the decades ahead with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- At present, near 50% of CLIA cruise line member ships are equipped for shore power. However, only 2% of ports worldwide have shore power (electrical) capabilities. At the same time, multiple countries are implementing shore power mandates by 2030.
- Currently, 60% of CLIA cruise line member ships (representing 77% of global capacity) use exhaust gas cleaning systems to comply with the stringent requirements of Emission Control Areas.
- 32 pilot programs are currently underway to test sustainable fuels
While the travel sector has come a long way on the sustainability front, clearly we still have much more to do, specifically within certain tourism sub-sectors. But I was really encouraged to see how much of the industry is engaged and working diligently toward achieving specific goals such as net-zero emissions, zero waste, and other measures to ensure a future for our sector and planet.
As for invitations, I gladly accepted ITAC’s invite to attend the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Ottawa later this month, which also coincides with my board obligations to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. Then in March, it’s back to Victoria for the BC Tourism Industry Conference (BCTIC), where in this case, I’m the one extending an invitation to industry colleagues, government officials, VIPs, suppliers, and other stakeholders to attend.
So far, close to 300 delegates have registered with five weeks to go. In reading this message you’re among the first to know that the Hon. David Eby will be the first Premier in more than a dozen years to attend and present at BCTIC. Don’t miss out. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so as soon as you can. I look forward to seeing you in Victoria next month if not sooner.