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Destinations Around the World Ready To Embrace Sustainability as Market Driver

 

Sept. 19-21, 2011 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference

Will Gather Destination Organizations to Strengthen Leadership in Sustainability,

Drive Positive Change in the Industry

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 8, 2011 – The organizers of the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), an annual industry conference focusing on advancing sustainability goals for the tourism industry, have set a hefty goal: reinforcing the roles of tourism in building a sustainable future. With a myriad of challenges facing tourism including climate change threats, political and economic instabilities this is not an easy mission to accomplish.

The ESTC (http://www.ecotourismconference.org/) Co-Chairs Dr. Kelly Bricker and Richard Edwards, representing the board of directors of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), are optimistic, and not just because the idyllic and cheerful environment that this year’s host, Hilton Head Island, SC, promises.

“We want to bring significant change to the global tourism industry,” says Edwards, “and we need buy-ins from all sectors of our industry, both bottom-up and top-down. Increasingly we are seeing destinations – DMOs, CVBs, National Tourism Boards – becoming engaged in sustainable tourism and investing in going beyond ‘going green’ and taking tangible steps to strengthen their sustainability efforts. This is a very promising trend for the future of tourism.”

With the aim of inspiring destination organizations to lead sustainable tourism development around the world, the ESTC educational sessions offer valuable insights and lessons on how to effectively engage stakeholders and stay ahead in the rapidly growing ecotourism and sustainable tourism sector, from the state of California’s example of working with tourism businesses to identify greenwashing-free sustainable tourism opportunities, to the post-revolution Egypt’s efforts to reinvest in civil society engagement in tourism as a means to stimulate economic activity.

“We expect a significant increase in the number of destination representatives attending this year’s ESTC,” says Dr. Bricker. “This is a welcome shift in our conference attendee demographics, one we believe will help strengthen the impact of the conference, as well as the networking and partnership-building opportunities during the conference. These destination leaders will be a key force in driving change in global tourism, and reinforcing the critical roles that tourism plays in building a sustainable future.”

In addition to a wide range of destinations across the United States, from South Carolina to California and Oregon to Oklahoma, this year’s ESTC features a diverse delegation of destination representatives from around the world: Belize, Botswana, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa.

Many have existing ecotourism and sustainable travel initiatives, some have found innovative ways to differentiate their brands from others, and all are ready to take advantage of an array of opportunities that sustainable tourism brings.

The ESTC 2011 program also includes a hands-on pre-conference workshop (Monday, Sept. 19) focusing on destination marketing and management. Titled “Sustainable Tourism – Doing Good as a Market Driver”, this invitation-only complimentary workshop features expert lectures on branding, product development and marketing campaigns, and interactive discussions and exercises to help participating destinations develop targeted action plans to improve their marketing edge.

This year’s ESTC is being hosted by Hilton Head Island, SC, Sept. 19-21 and will bring together over 500 professionals from across the industry. For more information on the ESTC 2011, and to register, see: www.ecotourismconference.org.