The International Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) has announced that the Thompson Okanagan Region is the first destination in the Americas to earn the Biosphere Destination certification. Only 20 destinations globally have earned the certificate.
The certification recognizes the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the region as a tourism destination.
Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and its members successfully met 137 benchmarks that contain sustainability measurements that track standards such as affordable, clean energy and water use; human rights and social justice; gender equality; cultural diversity and equality; labour standards; health and poverty standards; and, sustainable communities.
The Biosphere Destination certification is the only designation to incorporate the United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the main guidelines of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“In May, TOTA signed the Letter of Commitment in our effort to obtain the Biosphere Designation Certificate and today we are one of only 20 destinations globally to have reached this level of tourism excellency and the first in the Americas,” says president and CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Glenn Mandziuk. “This designation allows us to market the region globally as one of the most sustainable and responsible tourist destinations in the world.”
The Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) created and developed the Responsible Tourism System (RTS), recognized under the Biosphere Destination seal. This distinction emerged as the answer to establish the criteria for achieving a sustainable standard within international tourist businesses. Currently, the RTI maintains a Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO, is affiliated to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
“Tourism is a global connector, contributing to reducing inequality within and between countries, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, supporting environmental sustainability and creating opportunities for learning and prosperity for all,” says Patricio Azcarate Diaz de Losada, director of the Responsible Tourism Institute. “We are pleased to be certifying TOTA with this rare and prestigious designation that accredits compliance with standards based on the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is now accountable to continuously meet 137 different benchmarks that have been met by the association and its members.
The region, which is named after its two major geographic features (the Thompson River and Okanagan Lake), ranges from Christina Lake and the Shuswap to the east, Cache Creek and Princeton to the west, Mount Robson in the north, and Osoyoos in the south.