This year marks 50 years of Earth Day celebrations and while we may not be able to mark the day with in-person gatherings or initiatives, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the sustainable initiatives happening in and around Kelowna.
31 local tourism businesses are now participating in the Biosphere Commitment Program, in turn making a commitment to the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These businesses, along with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and Tourism Kelowna, are working to strengthen the sustainable development of our destination, so it can be enjoyed by both residents and visitors for years to come.
In the fall of 2019, as part of the International Indigenous Tourism Conference, TOTA introduced its regional pledge, Seven Affirmations for Seven Generations, which is based “on Indigenous philosophy that recognized that the decisions an individual makes today will have an impact for as long as seven generations to come.”
Some of the sustainable initiatives undertaken by our stakeholders include:
- A View to Remember Bed and Breakfast and Ogopogo Tours are both Sustainable Tourism 2030 Gold Certified; the certification program is a division of GreenStep Solutions, an award-winning sustainability consulting firm and certified B Corporation.
- CedarCreek Estate Winery has several sustainable initiatives. For instance, 80% of their wines are bottled in Eco-Glass, which is made from up to 55% recycled glass and can be up to 84 grams lighter than a regular bottle. This results in fewer emissions during production and shipping.
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort participates in Marriott’s Serve360 sustainability program. Some changes they’ve made at the resort include encouraging guests to skip the straw (and offering bamboo straws when needed), creating a food recovery program in conjunction with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, and making changes within the hotel to reduce their energy consumption.
- Kelowna Museums Society has embraced its role in cultural sustainability, with several of its programs and exhibits at the Okanagan Heritage Museum helping to preserve and showcase the Indigenous culture of the syilx (Okanagan) people and to educate museum-goers about cultural practices, traditions, and language.
- Myra Canyon Ranch / Kelowna Stables have made several changes at their establishment, such as eliminating small, plastic toiletry bottles, to help promote sustainability to their guests.
- Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm is focused on sustainable farming and has switched to biodegradable wood chip containers for several of their products. In 2019, thanks in part to their sustainability initiatives, they tied for bronze in the Canadian FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.
- Summerhill Pyramid Winery is the first winery in Canada (and one of 26 in the world) to be a Certified B Corporation, which formally recognizes that the winery cares for more than profit, investing in the planet and people, as well.
Tourism Kelowna’s sustainability committee works to ensure our team is continuously looking for ways to strengthen the sustainability of our organization, which ultimately supports the sustainability of the destination. Some highlights of our initiatives include:
- Taking an active role in destination development by working with industry partners, stakeholders, and residents to develop Kelowna's tourism destination plan.
- Kelowna Visitor Centre (KVC) received Gold Certification from Sustainable Tourism 2030 and also recently received accessibility certification from the Rick Hansen Foundation.
- Solar panels were installed at the KVC in May 2019, supplying almost 10% of the building’s energy needs. In the same month, our Kelowna Explorer Vehicle (KEV) was upgraded to a Toyota Camry Hybrid through our partnership with Budget Car and Truck Rental.
- We have continued to add sustainable products to our Love for Kelowna and Kelowna Vibes retail lines and have also partnered with a variety of local vendors to bring in sustainable products as part of our retail program; many of these products are now also available for purchase through our online store.
Looking ahead, Kelowna is set to host the 2020 Global Sustainable Tourism Council Global Conference in November, though this will be dependent on developments with international travel and COVID-19.
For more information on the Biosphere Commitment Program or Tourism Kelowna’s work around destination development and sustainability, please contact Jennifer Horsnell at email@example.com or at (250) 861-1515 ext. 205.
Have a sustainability initiative to share with our team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.