Travelling Wisely

Travelling Wisely: Culturally & Environmentally Appropriate Travel & Tourism

As part of the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation’s (ACIC) 2002-2005 Strategic Plan’s goal to facilitate education around Culturally and Environmentally Appropriate Travel and Tourism (CEATT), ACIC began a project to engage stakeholders in the Atlantic Canadian travel industry on issues of tourism and international cooperation through a project entitled Travelling Wisely: Engaging Atlantic Canadians About Tourism And International Cooperation Issues.

Engaging Atlantic Canadians About Tourism And International Cooperation Issues

As part of the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation’s (ACIC) 2002-2005 Strategic Plan’s goal to facilitate education around Culturally and Environmentally Appropriate Travel and Tourism (CEATT), ACIC began a project to engage stakeholders in the Atlantic Canadian travel industry on issues of tourism and international cooperation through a project entitled Travelling Wisely: Engaging Atlantic Canadians About Tourism And International Cooperation Issues.

With tourism now the world’s largest industry and eco-tourism growing at a significantly greater rate than general tourism, (estimates vary from an annual growth of 10% to 30% while general tourism is said to grow at 4%), there is great momentum for Atlantic Canadians to shift their focus toward a more ethical way of travelling. Based on the idea that tourism’s future depends on a healthy environment and living culture, ACIC is expanding the concept of CEATT. CEATT is sustainable tourism that conserves and protects natural resources, respects cultures, and benefits communities visited. The concept of CEATT provides the frame of reference for approaching tourism in public engagement materials developed by ACIC.

The first year of the “Travelling Wisely” project draws on the experiences of member groups of ACIC that are currently working in tourism development in Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Chile, and the Philippines. ACIC, a coalition of groups in the Atlantic Provinces who work in international cooperation, has developed workshop materials and pamphlets in collaboration with partners from Atlantic Canada including five ACIC member groups and four Atlantic Canadian tourism associations. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has provided funding for the workshops.

Workshop materials, aimed at travel and tourism industry representatives, and pamphlets aimed at the general public, were developed using case studies of ACIC member organisations developing sustainable tourism opportunities with overseas partners and current information on culturally and environmentally sustainable tourism. Case studies were written by: CUSO, PEI; Rising Tide Cooperative, NS; YMCA of Fredericton, NB; and Falls Brook Centre, NB.

Facilitators for the workshops were trained in Truro, NS, in late February by Ruth Schneider, who developed and wrote the workshop materials. Two facilitators from each partner organization attended the two-day workshop, plus three ACIC representatives. Partner organizations included: Extension Community Development Cooperative, NL; CUSO, PEI; Rising Tide Cooperative, NS; YMCA of Fredericton, NB; and Falls Brook Centre, NB.

In March 2003, through the tireless efforts of the project partners, over 180 people participated in workshops and one-on-one interviews in the four Atlantic Provinces. Workshops were given to tourism students, travel and tourism representatives, and the general public. One-on-one interviews were conducted with travel agents and managers of travel agencies. Hundreds of pamphlets were distributed to travel agencies, universities, libraries, and colleges.

Comments from tourism students were encouraging, for example this quote from a 4th year student in New Brunswick, “I found their presentation to represent the core values of sustainable development and to offer insight to my future in tourism. I can’t stress enough the value of their presentation and the role it plays in my career decisions.” Facilitators have been asked to give this workshop at future classes, indicating success with professors, too.

Participants will be able to use this information to increase tourism opportunities and to assist Atlantic Canadians in choosing vacations that are more sustainable in terms of international cooperation, cultural awareness and ecological integrity.

Other significant results include tourism representatives indicating interest in furthering a partnership between ACIC and themselves, and the potential development of a partnership between a travel agency and one of the project partners to help promote and organize the project partner’s overseas tours.

Suggestions were made to improve the workshops, including using different types of media, such as a PowerPoint presentation, and including local case studies as well as international ones.

A number of suggestions were made for future CEATT projects including: developing and distributing a list of travel agencies and tour operators interested in CEATT; presenting CEATT workshops at regional tourism trade shows; continue to work with tourism students to inform them about sustainable tourism issues; and focus on the general public to help increase consumer demand for sustainable tourism products.

It is hoped that this project will continue to engage stakeholders in the Atlantic Canadian travel industry in analysing the issues surrounding tourism and international cooperation, and that it will build the knowledge and capacity of ACIC members and others to recognise the impact of and potential for tourism in developing countries. In other words, that it will contribute toward the building of culturally appropriate and environmentally sound travel opportunities that will benefit travel agencies and NGOs in Canada and partner organisations and communities overseas