VICTORIA & VANCOUVER, BC- This fall, tourism operators and organizations in British Columbia will have the opportunity to get serious about measuring, reducing and eventually offsetting their company’s carbon footprint. There is a strong demand for sustainability training programs by local tourism operators, as they look for ways to leverage profitable and sustainable business practices in order to attract increasingly eco-savvy travelers.

According to research conducted by the Vancouver Island University, 96 per cent of surveyed BC based tourism businesses agree that customers prefer businesses that are making efforts towards being more sustainable and 74 per cent have already begun implementing sustainable practices into their business operations.

For the first time this fall, Climate Smart (a for profit subsidiary of Ecotrust Canada) in partnership with the newly formed BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism, is directly targeting tourism operators with their program that helps small and medium sized businesses navigate their way through the new reality of a low carbon economy. The program teaches businesses about selecting customized solutions that will lead to greater operational and energy efficiencies.

“BC has a unique opportunity to develop sustainable tourism businesses, demonstrate sustainability leadership and to establish standards that visitors will come to appreciate from all tourism businesses and destinations,” says Judy Adams, Managing Director for the BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

More than 20 BC based tourism-related operators have now been through the Climate Smart program, including the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism Whistler, Long Beach Lodge, Surf Sisters and The Tartan Group.

Surf Sister, a well known surf school in Tofino, BC is a recent graduate of the program. “Participating in the Climate Smart Program was a truly valuable experience. In today’s competitive tourism industry, being able to stand out is essential. Consumers value an environmentally conscious company, so as well as providing us with some great cost savings ideas, the Climate Smart workshops gave us a real marketing edge. We operate in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the workshops enabled us to play a role in keeping it that way” says Krissy Montgomery of Surf Sister.

Destination marketing organizations such as the Canadian Tourism Commission are also taking advantage of the Climate Smart program. “Our experience with Climate Smart added tremendous value to the development of our corporate green strategy by helping us to determine our carbon emission levels and set realistic targets for reduction. Over the next year, we will use the valuable information provided to us through the Climate Smart workshop to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our corporate operations, while positively impacting our financial resources in the long-term. I would highly recommend Climate Smart to any organization that is looking to adopt profitable and sustainable business practices that benefit both the environment and the organization,” says Quinn Newcomb, strategic planning officer from the Office of Strategy Management at the Canadian Tourism Commission.

About the Climate Smart Program:

Launched in 2007 as a pilot program to work with ten BC businesses and organizations, Climate Smart has now trained more than 100 enterprises. Climate Smart has just received the highest ranking in an independent study of nine enterprise carbon management systems.

The BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism has recently partnered with Climate Smart to host workshops in both Vancouver and Victoria. Over a 10-week period, climate change experts, experienced in advising small businesses and organizations, will take 15-20 businesses through a series of three, four-hour workshops.

The first workshop will help participants measure their carbon footprint by mapping operations and collecting data. The second workshop helps participants reduce their carbon footprint by identifying their best reduction opportunities and setting specific reduction strategies. The final workshop provides information on the emerging voluntary carbon offset market and offers advice on communication strategies to help businesses leverage their environmental commitment. Many of the workshop strategies have very low associated costs, while strategies with higher initial costs often see substantial return on investment over time, through reduced operating expenses.

Workshop Details:

Vancouver Dates: September 29th, October 27th and November 25th.
Victoria Dates: October 6th, November 10th and December 1st

Those interested in participating in the Climate Smart program can register at www.climatesmartbusiness.com.

Each program has a cost of $1,500 per company for all three workshops and includes up to two participants per company. Financial assistance is available upon request from the BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism.

For more information please contact Valerie Sheppard at vsheppard7@gmail.com.

Media contact:
Melinda Jolley
The Tartan Group
250-592-3838 or 250-896-3848 or Melinda@tartangroup.ca

Background Information:

About Climate Smart

Climate Smart, as a for-profit subsidiary of Ecotrust Canada, has developed a proprietary tool and method of training SMEs to profitably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on reduction strategies for operational efficiencies; these operational efficiencies reduce energy costs. Energy costs are the most volatile cost component in many SMEs. Control stabilizes costs in the near term and mitigates carbon liability in the longer term.

Climate Smart reaches these SMEs through aggregated networks including corporate, non-profit, and industry association partners, and licensing to larger networks including municipalities and supply chain networks.

About Ecotrust Canada

Ecotrust Canada is an enterprising nonprofit whose purpose is to build the conservation economy in coastal BC. The organization works at the intersection of conservation and community economic development promoting innovation and providing services for communities, First Nations and enterprises to green and grow their local economies.

Ecotrust Canada provides a suite of cost-effective services to help small- and medium- sized enterprises grow and green their business operations. From structuring shareholder agreements for start-up enterprises and business plans to the new Climate Smart service and eco-certification, Ecotrust Canada works to bolster the triple-bottom line of enterprises making them more competitive in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

About the BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

The BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism is a not-for-profit society that is committed to ensuring the long-term environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability and viability of BC’s tourism industry. The Partnership aims to provide the necessary tools to enable tourism businesses to implement sustainable business practices.

The BC Partnership for Sustainable Tourism will be developing and implementing a suite of sustainability programs, including a tourism business certification program, business sustainability workshops, a visitor carbon calculator, and an employee-focused sustainability innovation award.

Quotes from Recent Climate Smart Participants:

West Coast Sightseeing Tours

“The Climate Smart Program is an affordable and sensible way for small to medium sized companies to measure their carbon footprint. At West Coast Sightseeing it enabled us to take a critical look at our operations, get some baseline values, and to find some areas for improvement. We plan on reducing our emissions for next year by 20 per cent, mainly through converting to waste product based bio-diesel, but also through driver training and tire pressure checks”.  – Andreas Tize, Vice President

Capilano Suspension Bridge

“The process of measuring our carbon footprint has been a wonderful learning opportunity for us. We have committed to a 10 per cent reduction target for 2009. We are excited to embark on projects that will streamline our business operations and enhance our guest experience in the park. An example of a change that we are starting to make is consolidating our office supply ordering system and creating a preferred supplier/product list for items that are more earth friendly and/or local. We are also conducting a tree inventory with our Arborist so that we have more accurate information about our rainforest to share with guests. Our Team Members are being recruiting for our “green team” called Nature Wise. We will have a variety of events for our team to participate in and do something good for the environment and our community.” – Kimberley Mulla, Human Resources Manager

Tinhorn Creek Vineyard

“At Tinhorn Creek Vineyards our desire is to become a more and more sustainable business every year. One of the most surprising things we learned when we went through the program was how it would translate to better cost efficiencies in our business’ bottom line. Calculating our carbon footprint forced us to look at ways of streamlining our operations, cost cutting in areas we previously did not even target and putting systems in place to help us monitor what effect these changes will have on our bottom line in the future. I believe that once we review what we have learned and where we are headed with the rest of our organization, our employees will feel even more connected to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.” – Sandra Oldfield,, Head of Operations, Winemaker