Ziptrek part of sustainable tourism initiative 

Pilot project will lead to nation-wide certification program

Whistler-based Ziptrek will take part in a pilot project for the first nation-wide sustainable tourism certification program in Canada.

Beginning July 24, tourism operators from six of the province's tourism regions will go through a full assessment of the Green Tourism Certification Program, led by B.C.'s sustainable tourism network ETHOS. The program is based on the U.K.'s Green Business Ltd .

Ziptrek is the only Whistler company taking part in the pilot. The owners signed up for the project to learn what they could do to offset their already minimal carbon footprint in their day-to-day operations.

"We can always do better," said Ziptrek operations manager Brent McDonald.

"Our goal is to be carbon-neutral as soon as we can."

He said Ziptrek is a good candidate for the project because of their highly eco-friendly operation. Ziptrek generates its own solar and micro-hydro power and print all materials on 100 per cent recyclable paper.

"We're probably a good candidate because we're already fairly proactive in that regard already," he said.

The program was initiated by the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council (CSTAC), which decided that a nation-wide program is essential for maintaining a standard from province to province. British Columbia's Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Kevin Krueger, and John Yap, minister of State for Climate Action, announced the project in Vancouver last Friday.

The findings of this pilot project will be shared with the CSTAC and create the performance indicators for a nationwide version of the program. The program will begin in B.C. in November and ETHOS will begin rolling out pilot projects nation-wide early next year.

ETHOS is a partnership between government and industry to lead green tourism initiatives in B.C. It was chosen to lead the initiative due to their work in sustainable tourism since its inception in 2009.

According to ETHOS managing director Judy Adams, they always had a clear direction for what they wanted to do with this program.

"We're talking about sustainability, in that our industry has the tools that they need to create a more sustainable industry going forward," she said. "The purpose of this program is to give operators a path forward."

She said that as sustainability continues to evolve, operators will evolve with it. The program will be revisited every three years.

The program covers the full spectrum definition of sustainability - financially, socially, environmentally and culturally. It is the first nationally focused sustainable tourism certification program that covers the broad spectrum of tourism sectors in Canada.

The program is tourism-industry-led and is funded partially through provincial and federal government grants.

"It's great to be a part of this network, you know, as other companies come on to the project," McDonald said. "To be a part of that network and let other companies know what works, or get ideas about what works for other companies."

The other 23 tourism operators involved with the pilot are: Almo Court Motel in Cranbrook, Aspen Motor Inn in Smithers, Crest Hotel and Prince Rupert Tour Adventures in Prince Rupert, Delta Sun Peaks Resort, Destiny River Adventures in Campbell River, Fairmont Hot Springs Villas, Inn at Laurel Point and Maple Leaf Adventures in Victoria, JetBoat Adventures in Riske Creek, Kimberley Rafting Company in Kimberley, Knight Inlet Lodge at Knight Inlet, Ksan Historic Village in Hazelton, N'Kmip in Osoyoos, Planet Bee in Vernon, Powder Creek Lodge in Rossland, Siwash Lake Ranch in 70 Mile House, The Hills Health Ranch in 100 Mile House, Strathcona Park Lodge in Campbell River, Split Mountain Adventures in Terrace, Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, the Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver Convention Centre, the Listel Hotel, Westcoast Sightseeing Tours and Coast Coal Harbour in Vancouver.

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