Masters student Carmen Massey attended the Impact Sustainability Conference which highlighted issues, addressed challenges head-on, provided examples of solutions, opened dialogue between stakeholders and partners and moved attendees to think of actions they could undertake to move the tourism industry toward sustainability.
The conference provided a blend of keynote speakers, ranging from Bob McDonald (CBC’s Quirks and Quarks), who highlighted the preciousness of the earth, and that “we only have one of them”, using a beach ball and cup of water to enthusiastically demonstrate his points. The British Columbia Minister of Tourism, Honourable Lisa Beare, addressed the importance of tourism to the British Columbia economy, but cautioned that we have to consider the impacts the industry is creating. A thought-provoking keynote presentation and panel discussion led by Robert Sandford of the United Nations University, summarized the state of the planet and what is at stake if we don’t figure out how to address the significant environmental impact of our current economy, with a focus on the travel and tourism industry. There was a strong Indigenous component throughout the Sustainability conference, with several Indigenous panelists and presenters providing perspectives of impact on their communities and economies, both positive and negative, by the tourism industry. The conference wrapped up on Day 3 with a panel discussion of the impact of tourism in parks and protected areas, with a focus on national parks.
Impact Sustainability Conference wrapped up by asking attendees what they could do in their own role to support sustainability. Next year’s Impact conference topics will arise out of this year’s discussions and will evolve from the issues and priorities identified in 2019. A proceedings document will be provided to attendees and several action items were noted to be moved forward on a provincial and federal level during the coming year.