Sunday, 27 March 2011

Exploring Canada's Green Destinations, in the Big Apple

Next week I'm off to experience Canada...in New York City! Canada Media Marketplace brings the best of Canada to travel trade media in the United States. Although my role at the event is very much in the background - helping to ensure as small an environmental footprint for the event as possible - Media Marketplace is also a great place for me to learn about different destinations and companies that provide sustainable meeting, event and incentive experiences in Canada.

Starting in the east, my interest is definitely piqued by Newfoundland's Fogo Island Inn / Shorefast Foundation. According to the New York Times, this remote island destination with a shrinking population of 3,000 is blossoming into a sustainability-minded artistic colony. The intriguing story of this destination compelled the Times to list Fogo Island as #22 in their top 41 destinations to visit in 2011.

I'm also intending to express my sincere appreciation to Tourism Prince Edward Island for the hands-down highlight of my summer vacation last year: Flavour Trails. I've never so thoroughly eaten my way through a holiday in my entire life, thrilled that each bite was sustainably island-grown.

Also hope to catch up with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Starwood. Competition is heating up in the 'green' hotel movement as various brands launch their own proprietary sustainable meeting and measurement tools or take advantage of emerging footprint programs offered through groups like Green Hotels Global. Keen to see what new plans these chains have in this area. Especially Fairmont, who has been fairly successful at ensuring consistent chain-wide sustainable meeting programs, especially within Canada. As an aside we'll be testing out Hilton's LightStay program at the primary event venue, the Waldorf=Astoria in New York, hoping to improve on the sustainability baselines we established for Media Marketplace in 2009.

Sited in my sister's home-province of Manitoba I also aim to learn a bit more about Churchill Wild. Adventures with this family-operated eco-outfitter are likened to watching your favourite nature channel, without the television. As awesome as that sounds, I'm turning my attention more to the company's statement of environmental principles, hoping to gain some insight into how they provide low-impact luxury experiences is such remote locations and the increasingly fragile arctic tundra ecosystem.

Closer to home I'm sure Tourism Vancouver will be touting the city's Olympic credentials, as well as the newly opened Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, the first convention centre in the world to earn the highly coveted Platinum LEED certified green-building rating. I confess I'm smitten by the beehives kept on the living roof of the new building. Just awesome. I'll also be keen to see how Travel Alberta and the tripartite of of Calgary, Banff-Lake Louise and Edmonton are developing sustainably, having worked with the province to inventory some of its great green credentials in 2009.

So much of the country to see and only one Marketplace to do it! Will try to post more updates from the road, including some insights into sustainable practices at the event itself.

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