Is there something in the water in Victoria, BC? It’s a hotspot for eco-tourism, says independent third-party evaluator Green Tourism Canada.

At Maple Leaf Adventures, we are proud to have our office in a city and on a coast that places huge value on conservation based business. Hooray to all of our colleagues here and all along the coast who are making the world a better place, and proving that business and conservation can go hand in hand!

Below is the news story from Green Tourism Canada:

Maple Leaf Adventures was first certified by Green Tourism Canada since the program's start in 2011, and has been certified at the top level - Gold - ever since.

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release                                                                      March 25, 2015

VICTORIA AN ECOTOURISM HOTSPOT WITH FOUR GOLD CERTIFIED TOUR OPERATORS

Four Victoria-based businesses have achieved Gold Certification by the internationally recognized Green Tourism program, for outstanding leadership in sustainability.

Victoria BC – Based on the world’s most credible sustainable tourism program[1], Green Tourism has certified over 2300 businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada, and is the only 100% third-party verified sustainability certification program for tourism businesses.

Sustainability is a top priority in Victoria. “We view our destination and the landscape as a natural advantage and have written the concept of sustainability into our organization’s constitution and bylaws,” says Paul Nursey, President & CEO of Tourism Victoria.

Carbon measurement, supporting conservation education and offering local and organic food options are just some of the extras the Victoria-based Gold rated tour companies are being recognized for.

Kevin Smith of Maple Leaf Adventures, an advocate for ecotourism and conservation travel.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the program, and I encourage all other companies that value sustainability to participate,” says Kevin Smith, president of Maple Leaf Adventures. Maple Leaf offers boutique expedition cruises to pristine fjords and archipelagos of BC and Alaska, and have always operated with eco-tourism principles in mind.

Another Gold member, Brett Soberg from Eagle Wing Tours Ltd. states, “Being able to show the industry our Gold certification with Green Tourism was a very important factor in Eagle Wing Tours being recognized by it’s peers at the TIAC 2014 Canadian Tourism awards. We were presented with the Sustainable Tourism Award for making an outstanding contribution to the practice and promotion of sustainable tourism in Canada”. Eagle Wing Tours is a carbon neutral whale watching company who also contribute to 1% for the Planet and wildlife research, among their long list of environmental initiatives and awards.

Maple Leaf Adventures and Eagle Wing Tours were the first tour operators to become certified in Victoria, but others are quickly following suit. A 3-Hour Sail and Outer Shores Expeditions have recently become Gold members as well. “Conservation and the well-being of the ecosystems, cultures and communities of coastal British Columbia has always been at the very heart of the Outer Shores mission,” says Russell Markel, Outer Shores Expeditions President and Captain. “We felt it important to apply for the Green Tourism Canada rating because we wanted to be able to assure our guests and ourselves that we are doing all we can to ensure this beautiful region remains beautiful forever.

Rob McCallum, owner of A 3-Hour Sail adds, “We are committed to working in a sustainable way and the Green Tourism program provides mentorship and guidance in order to continually improve our sustainability practices”.

Next to be certified in Victoria is Victoria Harbour Ferry Co. who decided to join Green Tourism to become both more conscious and actionable around their environmental impact.

“To get certified, members must have sufficient scoring in each category. They could be amazing at recycling, but if they aren’t doing anything to promote active transportation or using energy efficient lighting, they may not receive their grading,” explains Lindsay Eason, Program Manager. “And that is why we are so proud of all the Gold Certified members around Victoria”, adds Eason. “The tour companies really know what it takes to operate in a sustainable way, not just in their operations but in the way they communicate with their guests and community.

With over 70 businesses certified or awaiting grading in BC, the program will begin expanding into other Canadian provinces in 2015. Green Tourism is the largest certification program of its kind in the world, helping members minimize waste, promoting the use of local suppliers, and advising on how to use water and energy efficiently, among several other areas related to green business. The program allocates Bronze, Silver and Gold awards to members who are assessed by independent auditors on more than 140 measures in eleven categories.

Tourism businesses and travelers interested in learning more about the program can visit www.greentourismcanada.com or contact Romina Rooney at 1-800-469-7830 or email romina@greentourismcanada.ca.

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Contact:

Green Tourism Canada

Lindsay Eason, Green Tourism Program Manager

250-862-8941 ext 102

lindsay@greenstep.ca

http://www.greentourismcanada.ca

A 3-Hour Sail

Rob McCallum

1-877-788-4263250-885-2311

threehoursail.com/

Outer Shores Expeditions

Taya McAstocker

1-855-714-7233 (toll free)

www.outershores.ca

Maple Leaf Adventures

Kevin Smith

250-386-7245

www.MapleLeafAdventures.com

Eagle Wing Tours

Brett Soberg

1-800-708-9488

http://www.eaglewingtours.com

Victoria Harbour Ferry Co.

Sandy Ibrahim

250-708-0201

http://www.victoriaharbourferry.com

Tourism Victoria

Tessa Humphries

250-414-6976

tessa.humphries@tourismvictoria.com

About Green Tourism in Canada

By choosing a Green Tourism business in Canada, travellers are guaranteed:

That the business:

§  Is committed to sustainable tourism and minimizing its damage to the environment

§  Is operating in accordance with the relevant environmental regulations

That the site:

§  Meets minimum standards of good practice across a range of sustainable development indicators.

§  Has been audited by a qualified professional to ensure standards are maintained.

That we will:

§  Reassess the site every two years based upon a set of regularly updated sustainable development standards

§  Investigate any complaints received about the environmental performance or commitment of the business.

For tourism industry operators the Green Tourism criteria offers guidelines to tourism businesses on how to make their operations more sustainable while still delivering a high quality service. When developing the criteria consideration has been given to a wide range of social and environmental factors, as well as up-to-date technological developments. There are over 150 individual measures in the criteria, which focus on 10 different areas. Each business is scored on up to 60 measures and the results will establish what award level they have achieved, i.e. Going Green, Bronze, Silver, or Gold.

About Green Tourism in the UK

The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) was originally developed by Shetland Environmental Agency Ltd (SEA Ltd) in the UK, and this company holds the primary copyright and intellectual property rights to all program material, criteria, workbooks, audit & report forms etc.

GTBS is the only sustainable tourism certification program in the UK endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitScotland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.  The program has been validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism and there are over 2,400 GTBS certified members throughout the UK and Ireland.  Businesses are graded Bronze, Silver or Gold by qualified environmental assessors and can benefit from a significant marketing advantage and reduced running costs of up to 20%.

Green Tourism members are promoted through numerous websites including Expedia, Travelocity, GreenTraveller.com, Sustrans, Booking Services International, Inntel and TripSketch iphone App.  Other benefits include discounts and offers with green suppliers, monthly e-newsletters and technical support through the members area.

Green Tourism was commissioned in 2007 by Qualmark, New Zealand to assist in the development of the Enviro-Mark program for New Zealand Tourism.  Green Tourism provided support and technical expertise for the Enviro-Mark program from 2007 – 2010. Green Tourism has also been working with the West Swedish Tourist Board since 2010 to help them develop a sustainability and quality tool for tourism businesses throughout Sweden.

http://www.green-business.co.uk/

About GreenStep Solutions Inc.

GreenStep Solutions Inc.  holds the exclusive license to deliver the Green Tourism program in Canada, and for seven years has worked with businesses and organizations to help them go green while providing a return on their investment, primarily through cost savings and marketing opportunities that attract new customers.

GreenStep provides facilitation services, sustainability education, and policy analysis in addition to conducting energy, waste, water and transportation assessments for businesses and making recommendations to reduce their costs and resource use.

www.greenstep.ca


[1] Totem Tourism Greenwash Report 2013