ESTC: Sustainable Tourism Conference

Portland, Oregon (also known as "the greenest city in the U.S.A.") will host the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), September 8-10. The ESTC, organized by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and co-hosted by Travel Portland and Travel Oregon, is the only North American conference with a focus on sustainable tourism. The conference aims to inspire positive, eco-friendly change in the travel industry.

ESTC features four main session topics or "tracks". The first section, "Addressing Economic Challenges and Business Opportunities," will examine how investing in sustainable business strategies (intelligently) can improve a company's financial outlook. Sustainable practices are often resource-saving, and may be an effective and innovative business model. Two discussions will make the demonstrate the "business case" for sustainable travel: "Integrating sustainability into your business," by Jelina Mitrovic (Intrepid Travel), and "Tourism and Place Based Economic Development: a Strategy for Job Creation, Cultural Enhancement, and Environmental Protection," by Alex Naar (East Carolina University Center for Sustainable Tourism). The first track will also discuss how to effectively use your marketing budget, the value of sustainable tourism certification programs, understanding the travel consumer in today's economy, and how to stay ahead in the green economy.

Track two, called "Managing Footprint and Implementing Solutions," will include a discussion on tourism on public lands, nature conservancies and parks. This section will also cover the importance of green building and design, carbon management and environmental strategies for tour operators. Also, Rick MacPherson (Coral Reef Alliance), Trace Gale (Researcher for Patagonian Ecosystem Studies) and Zachary Rozga (WHL Group), will provide ideas for financing sustainable tourism initiatives.

The third section, "Building Partnerships and Engaging Communities," will examine "indigenous tourism," and consider ways to preserve authentic travel experiences. Liz Manning (Planeterra Foundation), Dave Aabo (WAVES for Development International) and Donna Bookout-Coe (Cheetah Conservation Fund) will speak about volunteer tourism, in a panel titled "Voluntourism: from a community project to a consumer product." The next panel discussion, titled, "Engaging communities and empowering travelers to 'be the change'" will include speakers from immersion-based and action-oriented organizations. Kristin Dahl (Travel Oregon), Brian Mullis (Sustainable Travel International) and Michelle Nowak (Farm Stay USA), will focus on the importance of place; in other words, the significance of culture, history and geography to promote a genuine travel experience. The final panel discussion will give ideas about building partnerships within the community.

The last track of the conference will consider the future of the sustainable tourism industry. A panel on "The Boat Company" (in Southeast Alaska) will discuss how environmental partnerships can improve business practices as well as community sustainability. Another panel will discuss opportunities in the field of environmental education, and responsible enjoyment of the outdoors. The final panel of the ESTC will discuss the significance of the Sustainable Tourism Certification.

For further details and registration information, please visit: EcoTourismConference.org.

Image credit: ESTC