Building A Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Industry



Together with our partner GreenStep Solutions, TOTA is working to develop a regional Charter of Sustainability — the first of its kind in North America, as well as seeking Biosphere Tourism Certification as a sustainable destination – the first destination in the US or Canada to do so.

 Through the process we will be working in consultation with stakeholders throughout the region and drawing from International Best Practices in countries such as New Zealand and France.


The following provides a brief outline of the scope of work that is being undertaken in the development of the Sustainability Charter and the Biosphere Certification.

Best Practice Research

A best practice research report for sustainability charters in the tourism industry, including a high-level analysis of:

  • The World Charter for Sustainable Tourism guidelines provided by UNEP, UNWTO and others.
  • A minimum of three regional sustainability charters.

Key interviews were conducted with tourism professionals and academics to identify key trends, challenges and opportunities for sustainable tourism including a review of 3-5 existing reports on sustainable tourism.

This process identified six high priority best practices for TOTA to embark upon:

  1. Engage and consult with stakeholders about sustainability to help inform future plans and actions.
  2. Establish a baseline, set clear goals and identify the specific actions to achieve those goals.
  3. Ongoing Monitoring and Measurement of Impacts and Results.
  4. Publicly Report
  5. Certification of Tourism Businesses
  6. Certification of Destination

TOTA had already partnered with Green Tourism to promote the certification of tourism businesses, and as a result of the other best practice recommendations, TOTA signed a Letter of Commitment with the Responsible Tourism Institute to undertake the Biosphere Tourism accreditation and certification process.

The beautiful thing about this approach is that it will enable TOTA to tackle all of the other best practices identified. The assessment process will establish a baseline, goals for improvement and identify the actions necessary to achieve those goals. It will require the formation of a steering committee of stakeholders to guide the process. Ongoing monitoring and measurement of impacts, results as well as publicly reporting this data is all part of the process.



Complete the Biosphere Tourism Assessment

TOTA has been meeting with dozens of stakeholders throughout the region and at the provincial and national level to gather the information necessary to complete the Biosphere Tourism assessment. The goal is to have the region certified before the end of 2017.

 Steering Committee Briefing/Consultation & Project Scoping Document

A steering committee of TOTA staff and stakeholders will be established to help guide the process of monitoring, measuring and reporting on TOTA’s sustainability goals and to continue driving the improvement of the region’s sustainability performance.

Stakeholder Surveys

TOTA will conduct one or more online surveys of TOTA stakeholders, to gain insight about their sustainability-related practices and perceptions. This will serve as an initial high-level consultation, as well as to establish a regional baseline from which to measure how TOTA’s commitment to sustainability impacts stakeholders and the region over time.

Sustainability Charter Statement

A Sustainability Charter statement will be developed with the steering committee to help guide the Biosphere Tourism process and other sustainability initiatives the region undertakes.

To learn more or take part in the Committee, contact Ellen Walker-Matthews at