The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) — a not-for-profit society which represents business and community tourism interests throughout the region — congratulated their stakeholders by hosting a “Celebrating Our Potential” event at the Kelowna Yacht Club on Wednesday, February 20.
The evening was all about thanking and congratulating industry for their role in the success of the regions and their ongoing initiatives and marketing in responsible tourism.
Over the last three months, TOTA has won several prestigious responsible tourism awards. Namely the World Travel Award for World’s Responsible Tourism, and for the second time, North America’s Responsible Tourism Leader at the World Travel Awards. In addition, TOTA winning the WTA North America’s Responsible Tourism Award in September and the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Award in April, in addition to numerous other commendations this year.
“We, as a tourism industry, need to take a strong leadership role to ensure our destination — which we all call home — is not negatively impacted by its developments and activities,” said Glenn Mandziuk, President & CEO of TOTA. “The honour of our Association and our region receiving this important international recognition shows we are on the right track with our collective focus on responsible and sustainable tourism.”
“Such positive outcomes do not happen without a great deal of help and leadership,” said Mandziuk. “Without the support of Destination Canada, BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Destination BC, the community, non-governmental organizations, corporate partners, and our 4,500 industry tourism stakeholders, this recognition would not be possible.”
The Region’s many accolades are, to a significant degree, the result of a hugely ambitious strategic program which launched in 2012, titled “Embracing Our Potential.” This 10-year regional tourism strategy has an aim to maximize the benefits of the region’s popularity, while simultaneously protecting its natural, cultural, social, and economic heritage. To date, individual actions under the strategy have included the installation of more than 1,000 electric-car charging stations at key tourism locations; the establishment of Human Resources, Indigenous Tourism and Accessibility Tourism strategies and Specialists; a series of free online webinars to help local tourism stakeholders operate more sustainably; regional rail trail initiatives; and usage of “Big Data” to market and attract visitors at the right time, to the right locations, with the right commitment to the future protection and understanding of the region, and much more.
In late 2017, the Thompson Okanagan Region was officially certified as the first destination in the Americas to have successfully achieved the Sustainable Tourism Destination accreditation from Biosphere International and the Responsible Tourism Institute. The designation showcases that the Region is both undertaking and committed to the 17 sustainability development goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations and the World Tourism Organization.
The Thompson Okanagan attracts more than four million visitors annually generating over $2.2 billion in direct revenue, making tourism the region’s top economic driver. It is TOTA’s aim, through the focus on Responsible Tourism, to ensure that for decades to come, the region will have a healthy and sustainable economic, social, environmental, and cultural future.
About the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a non-profit society, governed by an elected Board of Directors, which represents business and community tourism interests throughout the region, and is supported by and representative of Destination British Columbia. 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. For more information, visit totabc.org.
For further information: Media Contact: Ellen Walker-Matthews, Vice President, Destination & Industry Development, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, 250.809.9290