Rise of Eco-Tourism Impacts What (and How) Hospitality Students Learn
Tourists spent $12.3 billion in Canada in 2012, and the 2013 numbers look like they may be even higher. A new market within the industry known as eco-tourism is playing a bigger role in determining how tourists spend their dollars—and how tourism students at the Canadian Tourism College in B.C. are approaching their studies and careers.
A growing percentage of our students are interested in learning about companies that operate with a global sensitivity.
- Gwynne Whitby-Thomas
“A growing percentage of our students are interested in learning about companies that operate with a global sensitivity,” says Gwynne Whitby-Thomas, assistant director of the college’s tourism programs. “Our students see themselves more as stewards of the environment. As participants in a global industry, it’s essential to work towards preservation.”
The rise of eco-tourism means that now more than ever, tourists want environmentally friendly accommodations, and even entire tour packages that revolve around Canada’s more remote natural environments. They want an opportunity to learn more about local traditions and culture, observe wildlife with minimal disruption to the eco-system and use their tourist dollars to help remote communities invest in conservational endeavors.
The Green Key rating system helps tourists across North America find hotels, motels and resorts that provide the level of eco-friendliness they’re looking for. The system assigns a rating from 1 to 5 to hoteliers who have taken steps towards running a green establishment, with a rating of 5 given to those who have significantly reduced their environmental footprint. With these and other resources at a traveller’s fingertips, planning an eco-friendly vacation is becoming easier than ever. Tourists can choose to stay at hotels, motels and resorts that live up to a certain standard of eco and social responsibility.
“In view of the fact that eco-tourism has been around for a number of years, hotels have adopted green initiatives across the country and tour operators have seen this as a very lucrative niche market,” says Whitby-Thomas.
Studying the economic and social impact of eco-tourism has prompted Canadian Tourism College students and faculty to bring some of that green consciousness to the campus.
“A portion of our Travel & Tourism course is dedicated to this topic,” says Whitby-Thomas, “but more importantly it is an ongoing theme in classroom discussions throughout the program.
Furthermore, she adds, “As a college, we no longer provide plastic or Styrofoam cups or utensils and we recycle paper in each classroom along with bottles.”
If you’re interested in a career in the Travel and Tourism industry, contact the Canadian Tourism College’s campuses in Vancouver or Surrey, B.C.
Other schools with programs related to the tourism industry include: