Thompson Okanagan first destination in the Americas to earn International Biosphere Certification

Certification by Responsible Tourism Institutes meets United Nations and Paris Agreement on Climate Change Criteria

November 1, 2017

Kamloops, B.C. – The International Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) announced today that the Thompson Okanagan Region is the first destination in the Americas to earn the prestigious Biosphere Destination certification, recognizing the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the Thompson Okanagan as a tourism destination.

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and their 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 excellence 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 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.”

TOTA and its members see over 3.5 million visitors per year and generating nearly $2 billion in direct economic impact annually.

For more information and a map of the region, please visit: https://totabc.org/ or, view the video at: https://totabc.wistia.com/medias/zxrz63k97k

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About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association:
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a non-profit society governed
by an elected Board of Directors who represents business and community tourism
interests throughout the region and is supported by and representative of Destination
British Columbia (DBC). It is an industry-led organization that represents and supports
all business and community tourism interests in the region, while also helping to
implement provincial tourism policies.

About the Responsible Tourism Institute:
The Responsible Tourism Institute, hereinafter referred to as RTI, is an international
institution linked to UNESCO, founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism
Council (GSTC), international accreditation body, and affiliated member of the World
Tourism Organization (WTO). RTI promotes tourism models that directly contribute to
effective maintenance and promotion of a destination’s cultural and natural heritage. Its
goal is to promote sustainable development within the tourism industry while
encouraging the employment of each destination’s intrinsic capacities.

Media Contact:
Hayley Thomas
LBMG
hthomas@lbmg.ca

604-329- 4747

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