PRESS RELEASES

Chile Unites to Restore Torres del Paine National Park’s Most Iconic Trail

“Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine” is a collaborative conservation campaign that aims to bring together the national and international community to restore the Base Torres trail in Torres del Paine National Park.

Torres del Paine, Magallanes, Chile (August 22, 2018) – A large-scale national and international conservation campaign was recently launched to support the long-term health of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and declared as the 8th wonder of the world in 2013, Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most renowned destinations in Chile and Latin America. The park’s rugged Patagonian landscape featuring turquoise lakes, massive glaciers, and jutting peaks, draws visitors from all over the world. Over 260,000 travelers visited the park last year – a figure that is expected to rise by 10% annually.

The campaign, titled Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine (Your Best Footprint for Paine), aims to restore the iconic Base Torres trail, which leads to the impressive natural wonder that is the park’s centerpiece – the trio of granite spires or “Towers of Paine.” Three organizations are partnering together to promote this campaign and implement the restoration project – the Chilean National Forest Corporation (CONAF), the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and AMA Torres del Paine.

The most popular of Torres del Paine’s trekking routes, the Base Torres trail can receive 1,000 hikers in a single day. As a result, many stretches of the trail are seriously eroded and in need of repair. The harsh Patagonian weather, characterized by frequent rain and strong winds that can reach up to 100 km/h, has only exacerbated these impacts, as have the steep grades and poor initial alignment resulting from the animals, not hikers, that first blazed the path.

In 2015, Shuswap Trail Alliance, a company specializing in the construction of sustainable trails, conducted an on-site diagnostic to evaluate trail conditions. The findings corroborated what most already knew: the Base Torres trail is in a state of serious degradation, posing a safety concern for hikers and diminishing the visitor experience while also impacting sensitive surrounding ecosystems. CONAF realizes that addressing this problem has become an urgent priority, “This campaign seeks to restore the main trail to Base Torres, which today is in a state of severe disrepair, not only due to its frequent use, but to climatic factors as well. That’s why CONAF lends its support to this initiative,” says Mauricio Vejar, CONAF Magallanes’ Regional Director.

The Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine campaign was conceived to address this challenge and build awareness in Chile around the importance of trail stewardship and national parks. The restored and newly constructed trail system will follow sustainable trail design and construction principles to ensure trail longevity, minimize environmental impacts, as well as the need for continual maintenance. The goal is to enhance the visitor experience and safety while connecting people to nature in an engaging, responsible way. This multi-stakeholder public-private initiative is a means to mobilize and unite numerous stakeholders around environmental stewardship. “This campaign will start the conversation about the role of trails and national parks by working together on one of our most iconic–one of which all Chileans should be proud,” says Mauricio Kusanovic, President of AMA Torres del Paine.

A non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing sustainability within the region, The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is evidence to the positive environmental impact that collective stewardship efforts can create. “In the last few years, we’ve witnessed how shared stakeholder commitment can translate into tangible conservation actions that further the sustainability of the park. Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine is a prime example of this. We hope that as a result of this campaign, more visitors, citizens, and businesses from all over Chile and around the world become more involved in protecting our planet’s natural assets, particularly one as important as Torres del Paine,” says Emily Green, Legacy Fund Director.

According to Alejandra Vial, Cerveza Austral’s CRO, one of the companies supporting this initiative, “Patagonia is part of our brand’s DNA, not only because our origins are in Punta Arenas, but also because for over 120 years, we have seen and been a part of the area’s tourism development.” For Austral, the best way to support the region is to contribute to these kind of initiatives that allow visitors to continue to responsibly enjoy the wonders of Torres del Paine.

Restoring the Base Torres trail is not a simple task, which is why the campaign is looking to the national and international community for widespread support. The rebuild of the circuit comprises a 30km round trip journey and is estimated to cost about USD $1.2 million. “The Government and CONAF do a great job maintaining our trails, but the challenge here is huge and as a civil society, we can all help through small actions of giving. Today, we are already working next to CONAF and Torres del Paine Legacy Fund on this challenge, so we invite individuals, businesses, and organizations to join in the care of the 8th Wonder of the World,” Kusanovic concludes.

To learn more or make a donation to the campaign, please visit www.tumejorhuella.com. Or if you’re an international tourism business and would like to support the campaign, please contact emily@supporttdp.org. Just $650 CLP or $1 USD helps rebuild one square meter of trail.

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About NGO AMA Torres del Paine

An environmental non-profit organization that operates in Torres del Paine National Park and whose mission is to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the area by supporting conservation, scientific investigation, and environmental education. www.amatorresdelpaine.org

Corporación Nacional Forestal, CONAF

An autonomous institution of the Chilean government under the Ministry of Agriculture charged with administering the state’s forest policy, driving development of the sector, combatting forest fires, and administering the country’s protected áreas. www.conaf.cl

Torres del Paine Legacy Fund

A non-profit initiative dedicated to preserving, supporting, and celebrating Torres del Paine and its surrounding communities. The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund works with the public and private sectors, fellow NGOs, visitors and residents to fund and implement local sustainability projects that advance a more sustainable future for the province of Ultima Esperanza. supporttdp.org

Vail, Colorado Certified as the First Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination in the World

Vail, Colorado (July 20, 2018) – Today, Vail announced their certification as a sustainable mountain resort destination. Vail is the first destination in the world to be certified to the Mountain IDEAL sustainable destination standard. Additionally, Vail’s adherence to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) destination criteria makes it the first Certified Sustainable Destination in the United States certified by a GSTC-Accredited certifying body, Green Destinations. The conditional certification is the result of a multi-year partnership between the Town of Vail, Walking Mountains Science Center, Sustainable Travel International, Vail Resorts, The U.S. Forest Service, and others. It marks the culmination of 56 years of leadership by the Vail community in progressive environmental conservation policies and programs.

“Recognizing that mountain destinations are acutely threatened by climate change, waning freshwater resources, and seasonal tourism peaks, Vail has made important strides in balancing the needs of its delicate ecosystem with the wants of travelers and the local community,” said Geoff Bolan, CEO of Sustainable Travel International.

Like many mountain resort destinations, Vail’s economy is highly dependent on tourism. While the town is home to just under 5,500 local residents, it welcomes 2.8 million guests annually. Since the ski area’s founding in 1962, and the Town’s founding in 1966, Vail has focused on balancing tourism growth with local environmental and community needs.

It has taken many years to work towards the sustainable destination certification, which builds upon Vail’s long history of environmental conservation. Notable past achievements include the protection of open space being written into the Town Charter of 1966, the creation of the Vail Nature Center and Preserve in the 1970’s, and the creation of the 1% Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) in the 1980’s which improves parks and open space for recreation opportunities and further supports environmentally sustainable practices. More recent achievements include its proactive approach to restoring the water quality of Gore Creek and Vail Resort’s ambitious commitment to a zero net operating footprint by 2030.

“Over the years, the Town of Vail and community partners have taken steps to embed sustainability into the destination’s operations and throughout the entire visitor experience,” said Kristen Bertuglia, Environmental Sustainability Manager for the Town of Vail. “As a result, tourism development in Vail happens in a manner that protects nature, improves residents’ well-being, and preserves cultural heritage.”

“Alongside the tremendous leadership displayed by our community, Vail Resorts is well on our way to carry out our ambitious Commitment to Zero by 2030,” said Doug Lovell, chief operating officer for Vail Mountain. “We look forward to working alongside our fellow sustainability leaders to achieve both our company and community goals and are proud of the accomplishments that we’ve achieved so far through our partnership, including this prestigious certification.”


The Path To Becoming The First Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination In The World

In advance of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held in Vail and Beaver Creek, the Town of Vail set out to achieve a lofty sustainability milestone: becoming the first destination in the United States to be certified to the GSTC destination standard. To achieve this, a multi-year partnership was established between the Town of Vail, Walking Mountains Science Center, and Sustainable Travel International.

The first step included launching Actively Green, a sustainability training and certification program for local businesses designed by Sustainable Travel International and run by Walking Mountains Science Center. To date, over 216 businesses have participated in the trainings and 57 businesses have been certified. In 2018, the Actively Green standard achieved “GSTC-Recognized” status.

The collaborative partnership also led to the development of the Mountain IDEAL destination standard. This standard has also achieved “GSTC-Recognized” status, meaning that the specific guidelines within the Mountain IDEAL standard used to implement sustainability at the destination are considered equivalent to a global standard.

“It was evident while working with Vail early on that traditional sustainable destination certifications were not completely viable for a mountain resort with large scale winter operations and a seasonal influx of both tourists and employees. While there were many positive elements and the groundwork existed, we realized we needed to use the GSTC Criteria to develop a new standard that would be better suited for not only Vail, but other mountain resort destinations in the future,” explained Kim Langmaid, Founder and Vice-President at Walking Mountains Science Center and Vail Town Council Member.

“The Mountain IDEAL standard supports mountain resort communities in advancing a sustainable development agenda. The standard addresses challenges faced in most mountain resort destinations including: managing impacts from overtourism, managing recreation on public lands, protecting vast watersheds and preserving scenic views, developing year-round employment and affordable housing, and embracing the unique mountain cultural heritage,” said Bobby Chappell, Senior Director of Standards and Monitoring at Sustainable Travel International.

Vail will continue to monitor and improve sustainability practices to maintain their Mountain IDEAL destination standard and their actions will continue to evolve and improve over time.

In July 2017, Green Destinations conducted an onsite assessment of Vail. Through a rigorous process, Green Destinations auditors reviewed documentation, interviewed key stakeholders, and completed a thorough evaluation of Vail’s overall approach to sustainable destination management. Following a months-long certification process, Vail was officially certified to the Mountain IDEAL standard in December 2017 making it the first sustainable mountain resort destination in the world. Vail is also recognized as the first Certified Sustainable Destination in the United States because Green Destinations is a fully GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.

“We’ve recognized for a long time that Vail is a global leader in sustainable mountain tourism. This certification is a much-deserved testament to our community’s achievements. We hope it encourages other destinations to adopt the Mountain IDEAL standard and leads to increased collaboration around sustainability in mountain resort destinations,” said Langmaid.

For additional information or media inquiries, please contact kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org.

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Media Contact:

Kaitlyn Brajcich

Sustainable Travel International

kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org

 

About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations. Sustainable Travel International has been at the forefront of sustainable destination management and sustainable tourism standard development for over 15 years. www.sustainabletravel.org

Media Contact: Kaitlyn Brajcich, Communications Manager, kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org

 

About Town of Vail

Under blue skies more than 300 days each year, Vail is an extraordinary mountain resort destination. Vail is where outdoor pursuits meet village sophistication. Offering more than 5,280 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain including seven legendary Back Bowls in winter, and flourishing summer recreation complemented by unparalleled arts and events, the options for year-round adventure are endless. Coupled with the vision inherent in the spirit of Vail’s founders, and a modern day commitment to excellence in all aspects of guest service and operations, Vail is a mountain destination like nothing on earth. Visit Vail.com for more information.

Media Contact: Suzanne Silverthorne, Director of Communications SSilverthorn@vailgov.com

 

About Walking Mountains Science Center

Walking Mountains Science Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Avon, CO and their mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education. Their sustainability department provides the Eagle County community education and coaching through their Energy Smart, Actively Green, Eco Schools and Zero Waste programs. Most recently Walking Mountains facilitated the creation of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community and is supporting the Town of Vail through the ongoing Sustainable Destination project. www.walkingmountains.org

Media Contact: Paul Abling, Director of Marketing & Communications paul@walkingmountains.org

 

About Green Destinations

Green Destinations is a non-profit organization of experts and destination ambassadors working in 80 countries. Green Destinations supports the world’s largest community of local, regional and country destination managers and stakeholders, enhancing destination sustainability, market visibility, and tourism quality. Green Destinations developed a complete, affordable and easy-to-use Assessment & Certification program that fits the needs of both small and larger destinations. It is operated through an online Assessment & Reporting platform based upon the GSTC-Recognized Green Destinations Standard and the GD Database with data from 2000 destinations. The GD platform helps destinations to improve sustainability management and performance, and it facilitates the validation of pre-certification benchmark awards (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) for various standards (QualityCoast, Mountain IDEAL and national standards) and strategic development progress, also in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. greendestinations.org

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Explorations Launches Carbon Offset Program for Travelers

SEATTLE, WASouthern Explorations, specializing in custom small-group trips and itineraries to Latin America, introduces a new carbon offsetting option for guests, delivered in partnership with Sustainable Travel International.  

Protecting the environment is central to Southern Explorations’ approach to adventure travel. They want to connect people and places while also contributing to the long-term health of the planet and protecting the beautiful places they visit. Knowing that tourism is a significant contributor to climate change means action must be taken. Their team of Latin America travel experts provide guests every opportunity to ensure their travel experience is as sustainable as possible.

In partnership with Sustainable Travel International – a non-profit conservation and development organization with over 10 years of experience in carbon offsetting – Southern Explorations is providing guests with the option to offset the carbon produced on their adventure, from both in-country activities and international flights.

“We value our team’s ability to create exceptional travel experiences while delivering a positive impact for the destination,” says Justin Laycob, Founder & CEO, Southern Explorations. “We have always supported leading sustainability organizations in the destinations we explore and we are excited about this newest partnership with Sustainable Travel International, helping us to further our comprehensive approach to sustainability with a forward-looking carbon offset program.”

Proceeds from Southern Explorations’ carbon offsetting initiative will support rotating projects throughout Latin America beginning with the Asorpar Reforestation Project in Colombia.

This project is a community-based emission reduction project that focuses on the restoration of degraded areas and reforestation in the Orinoquia and Andean regions of the country. Twenty native tree species have already been planted in the 3,128-acre pilot area, leading to the return of 117 secondary plant species and a multitude of animals. The project also provides benefits to local communities, including alternative livelihood creation and positive health impacts. For more details on this project, visit our website: https://www.southernexplorations.com/southern-explorations-carbon-offsetting.

Southern Explorations’ expert team will assist adventuresome travelers in offsetting their travel carbon footprint as they create and customize their next Latin America travel experience.

Media Contact:

Eric Bartanen

ericb@southernexplorations.com

Travel+SocialGood partners with major sustainable travel organizations to make sustainable tourism more accessible to travelers

With a focus on increasing transparency in the industry, Travel+SocialGood (TSG) is teaming up with Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Sustainable Travel International (STI), Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and Tourism Cares to present the 2017 TSG Summit this Nov. 16-17 in New York City. The TSG Summit agenda will be centered on a core challenge and theme aimed at increasing accessibility and awareness of sustainable tourism.  

The TSG team is developing a “primer,” or introduction, to easily showcase sustainability options to consumers. The goal is to empower travelers with tools to think critically about a business’s efforts in sustainable management and its impacts on a destination’s local economy, environment and cultural heritage. The primer is meant to be a simple distillation of existing sustainable tourism certification bodies, making it easier for travelers to make more informed decisions, and arm them with access to resources to continue to learn more about sustainable tourism.

“While many travelers want to travel sustainably, they don’t always know how. We want to make these resources simple and easily available to all,” said TSG Executive Director Kelley Louise. “Each organization coming to the table brings its own perspective, experience and resources to create a comprehensive overview system. It’s a first for us to all work together and incredibly important. We’re proud to join forces around this common mission.”

Leading up to the TSG Summit, TSG, GSTC, STI, CREST and Tourism Cares will work together to build out the TSG Summit agenda, which will focus on showcasing an easily accessible, universal primer to sustainable tourism – a platform meant to act as an introduction to the basics of sustainable tourism.

“The primer is designed to help travelers understand that sustainability can be integrated into any type of travel; it doesn’t have to be about volunteering,” Louise said. “Our goal is to help make sustainability feel more accessible to travelers, and act as an introduction that will hopefully lead to travelers seeking out more in-depth resources from our Summit Partners.”

The organizations will have a chance to share their concepts during the TSG Summit’s design-thinking workshop, a key portion of each TSG Summit that is focused on developing concrete and actionable solutions that anyone can implement into their business model.

The TSG Summit is limited to 150 innovators and visionaries in the travel and impact space. An application to attend the 2017 Summit can be found here.

TSG was born in early 2013 as a partner of the +SocialGood initiative, headed by the United Nations Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Case Foundation and Mashable. Today TSG is a highly engaged and active global community with 20 Hubs (local chapters) in cities around the world. A registered nonprofit pursuing 501(c)3 status, TSG is driven entirely by volunteers and the passion of more than 200 active Hub leaders and Media Network members.

ABOUT CREST

The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is a policy-oriented research organization dedicated to increasing the positive global impact of responsible tourism. CREST helps governments, policy-makers, tourism businesses, nonprofit organizations, and international agencies find solutions to critical issues confronting tourism, the world’s largest service industry. It also provides analysis and innovative solutions through research, field projects, publications, consultancies, conferences, courses, and documentary films, recognizing tourism’s potential as a tool for poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation. For more information, visit www.responsibletravel.org or call +1-202-347-9203.  

ABOUT GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable tourism standards with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices among public and private stakeholders. The GSTC is an independent and neutral nonprofit organization that establishes and manages global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The standards are two sets of GSTC Criteria: Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria, the minimum requirements for tourism businesses and destinations to pursue in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, along with conservation and poverty alleviation. The GSTC represents a diverse and global membership, including UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, country tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities – all strive to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.For more information, visit www.gstcouncil.org or email: info@gstcouncil.org

ABOUT SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of travel and tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations. For more information, visit www.sustainabletravel.org or call +1-917- 677- 5731.

ABOUT TOURISM CARES

Tourism Cares, Inc., a US 501(c)(3) public charity, advances the travel industry’s social impact to help people and places thrive. We unite the industry to make a greater impact on shared priorities, and to help each company fulfill its giving goals. Our members include leading travel associations and companies, together helping destinations in need, supporting our workforce, and improving our corporate social responsibility. Learn more at www.TourismCares.org and @TourismCares.

Media contact:

Meghan Aftosmis

Travel+SocialGood

meghan@travelsocialgood.org

212-729-8634

Mountain IDEAL Standard for Destinations Achieves GSTC Recognition

(July 27, 2017) – The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that the Mountain IDEAL Standard for destinations has achieved ‘GSTC-Recognized’ status.

The Mountain IDEAL destination standard has been developed to address sustainability in mountain environments that include winter and summer activities. These unique challenges and opportunities include issues like water and energy use related to snow making and snow melting systems, affordable housing for residents and seasonal employees, collaborating with public land managers and the business community, and embracing mountain cultural heritage. Sustainable Travel International, Walking Mountains Science Center, and other partners have collaborated on the development of the Mountain IDEAL destination standard.

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that the certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify includes the minimum elements to ensure sustainability. The purpose of the GSTC programs is to reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.

“GSTC Recognition of a standard means that the standard, Mountain IDEAL in this case, includes the four pillars of sustainability: management, social/community, cultural, and environmental issues. The Mountain IDEAL standard requires mountain resort communities to work to improve in all those four areas,” says Randy Durband, GSTC CEO.

“The goal of Mountain IDEAL is to elevate collaborative sustainability performance and share best-practices across mountain resort communities.” says Kim Langmaid Ph.D., Walking Mountains Science Center’s founder and vice-president.

In addition to the Mountain IDEAL destination standard, Walking Mountains’ industry standard Actively Green, is currently under review for recognition by GSTC.

To date, 7 destination standards, and 28 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms.

The GSTC will continue to work with organizations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria.

GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process which relates to the quality and neutrality of their certification process. Achieving a GSTC-Accredited status affirms that their certification process follows the highest international standards while further distinguishing their standards and processes amongst other certification programs. Learn more about GSTC Accreditation.

About the GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable tourism standards with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices among public and private stakeholders. The GSTC is an independent and neutral USA-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that establishes and manages global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The standards are two sets of GSTC Criteria: Destination Criteria and Industry Criteria, the minimum requirements for tourism businesses and destinations to pursue in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, along with conservation and poverty alleviation. The GSTC represents a diverse and global membership, including UN agencies, leading travel companies, hotels, country tourism boards, tour operators, individuals and communities – all strive to achieve best practices in sustainable tourism.

Media Contact: communications@gstcouncil.org

About Walking Mountains Science Center

Walking Mountains Science Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Avon, CO and their mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education. Their sustainability and stewardship department provides the Eagle County community education and coaching through their Energy Smart, Actively Green, Eco Schools and Zero Waste programs. Most recently Walking Mountains facilitated the creation of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community and is supporting the Town of Vail through the ongoing Sustainable Destination project. Visit www.walkingmountains.org or call 970.827.9725 for more information.

Media Contact: scottr@walkingmountains.org

About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of travel and tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations. For more information, visit www.sustainabletravel.org or call +1-917- 677- 5731.

Media Contact: kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org

Vail to be Assessed as the First Certified Sustainable Destination in the U.S.

Vail, CO (July 13, 2017) — After months of preparation, Vail will be hosting an independent site visit next week to determine if it has met the criteria needed to become the first Certified Sustainable Destination in the U.S. The certification process is sponsored by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Green Destinations, based in The Netherlands.

Conducting the onsite fieldwork taking place July 17-21 will be Magdelena Muir of Calgary, Canada. Her assessment will review the community’s performance on over 40 international standards in the areas of energy, climate, waste, equity, economy, wildlife health and more.

Muir is an internationally renowned professor of energy policy and climate science, published author, attorney and strategist. As the principal of International Energy, Environmental and Legal Services, Ltd. and Climate Sustainability Finance Ltd., Muir provides consulting services on a broad range of economic and energy projects, while also serving on several boards, including the Climate and Global Change, Coastal and Marine Union as well as research organizations including the Arctic Institute of North America.

During her visit, Muir will interview a diverse group of representatives from the resort community including Vail Resorts, Town of Vail, Vail Chamber and Business Association, U.S. Forest Service and Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, among others. She’ll also experience local events and visit top destination gems such as the Vail Farmers’ Market, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Ford Amphitheater Vail Jazz and more.

In partnership with Vail Resorts, the community of Vail and Vail Mountain are aiming to become the first certified sustainable destination in the United States under criteria from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, a non-governmental organization established by the United Nations Environment Programme and several other global partners in response to growth in tourism and the desire to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices. The destination certification criteria include 40 best practices that any tourism destination should aspire to reach. Another global organization, Sustainable Travel International, is also a partner on the Vail project.

Over the past year staff from Walking Mountains Science Center, Town of Vail and Vail Resorts have been assembling supporting data and documentation demonstrating results in criteria categories where the destination excels and as well as a draft implementation plan to improve in areas that may need additional attention. Vail will receive an initial assessment at the end of the audit period and a determination of its certification application in the upcoming months.

“We are creating a new standard that Vail and other mountain resort communities can adopt so that we can all grow and develop in a responsible and sustainable manner. The increasing impacts of our success in promoting mountain tourism have a double-edged sword that requires proactive collaborative planning for the future,” said Walking Mountains Science Center founder and Vail Town Council member Kim Langmaid. The new standard named the Mountain IDEAL will become a model for mountain resort communities across the world.

“The Town of Vail has a long history of environmental stewardship and sustainability including the protection of open space in its Town Charter, the creation of the Vail Nature Center and Preserve in the early 1970s and more recently its proactive approach to restoring the water quality of Gore Creek. We hope to celebrate our successes and elevate our programs in those areas that need more attention,” said environmental sustainability manager Kristen Bertuglia.

The Vail Sustainable Destination Project began when the Environment Committee of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was tasked to deliver an innovative legacy project. As a first step, the Environment Committee launched the Actively Green Sustainable Business Training and Certification Program which continues to support businesses and other organizations and is coordinated by Walking Mountains Science Center. The Actively Green program supports the larger destination certification project and provides local businesses and employees avenues to participate along the journey to make Vail a sustainable destination. “Vail is a great example of the progress and success that destinations can have when they harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good,” added Geoff Bolan, CEO of Sustainable Travel International.

Among the certification criteria for destinations are sustainability indicators that address things like tourism infrastructure, planning for climate change, protection of sensitive environments and wildlife, affordable housing, light and noise pollution, programs for youth and seniors, stakeholder participation, cultural heritage protection and sustainability education.

“This whole area of environmental sustainability can become a positive distinguishing feature of the resort, for visitors and residents alike. It’s a wonderful project that can significantly enhance Vail’s future if this becomes a true, community-wide effort,” said long-time Vail resident and Walking Mountains’ board member Alan Danson.

For more information, visit www.walkingmountains.org/vsd or sustainabletravel.org/places/vail/.

Media Contacts:

Suzanne Silverthorn, APR
Town of Vail
ssilverthorn@vailgov.com
(970) 479-2115

Scott Robinson
Walking Mountains Science Centre
scottr@walkingmountains.org
(970) 688-4250

Kaitlyn Brajcich
Sustainable Travel International
kaitlynb@sustainabletravel.org
(917) 677-5731