Sustainable Tourism Project update

The Explore Lake Simcoe Sustainable Tourism project was created to promote and encourage the expansion of outdoor recreation and sustainable tourism in the Lake Simcoe Watershed. Our goal is to leverage the watershed’s natural assets to promote sustainable tourism, healthy living, and a healthy watershed to meet the growing demand for sustainable travel experiences. Through a combination of individual meetings, workshops, presentations, webcasts, and resource sharing, we will deliver information and support to business operators interested in adopting sustainable business practices.

This June, Aileen MacMillan joined Explore Lake Simcoe as the new project coordinator, however, meetings with business representatives have taken place since June 2015. Explore Lake Simcoe has had the chance to interact with businesses representing all areas of the tourism sector including: agritourism, accommodations, golf, indoor and outdoor recreation, boating/marinas, foodservice, retail, skiing, fishing and entertainment. As we move forward, we wish to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has participated in and contributed to the program so far.

We have had the opportunity to meet many business owners and operators in the Lake Simcoe Watershed who are dedicated to protecting the natural environment and are in various stages of considering or adopting sustainable business practices. At this point in the program, we would like to provide you with an update on our findings from these discussions.

We have uncovered both common areas of needs and barriers to be addressed. Here is a summary of the findings:

  • Not surprisingly, cost is a major factor when it comes to adoption of sustainable practices. All businesses identified the need to be able to prove the value of implementing sustainable practices in financial terms. The business case speaks volumes.  The first step in the Explore Lake Simcoe project assessment is to identify appropriate rebates, incentives and cost saving opportunities.
  • Employee engagement was raised as an area of need by many participating businesses. Employees are the greatest source of ideas for energy conservation, resource conservation and waste reduction. Ultimately conservation and waste reduction measures result in cost savings. Explore Lake Simcoe can point you in the direction of appropriate resources to support your employee engagement efforts.
  • Visitor understanding and perception can hinder or support the implementation of sustainable initiatives. Almost every business asked for support to expand awareness among tourists. This is a part of the Explore Lake Simcoe program, and we can provide you with resources and tailor our social media communication to support your efforts.
  • A majority of businesses asked for more information about sustainable product suppliers. We are in the process of creating a more comprehensive list of local suppliers. This list will be available on request.
  • Many businesses want networking opportunities with operators who face similar challenges. Many also asked for workshops on topics of common interest. Keep an eye out for upcoming events, webcasts, and opportunities to collaborate, to share knowledge, and to brainstorm creative ways to address barriers.
  • Communication and promotion in an integral part of the Explore Lake Simcoe program and an area where many businesses requested support. We continue to expand our promotion of green business and sustainable tourism itineraries. Keep in touch with the program through Twitter, Facebook and the Explore Lake Simcoe website to find out more about how your business and sustainable tourism efforts can be promoted.
  • Third party certification programs provide a valuable framework for business and helps ensure consistency and accountability that customers can rely on. Programs are specific to individual industries (golf, ski, marina, etc.) We can put you in touch with relevant contacts for these programs, and we can share information and facilitate networking with others in your sector who have experience with specific programs.
  • Barriers identified are both small and large, and may require more than a quick fix. As we are in close communication with the business community in the Lake Simcoe watershed, we can represent your collective voice through our program reporting and other relevant channels.

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