Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2008 (ESTC 2008)
Greening the Tourism Industry in the US and Canada
October 27-29, 2008, Vancouver, BC, Canada

As Editor and Publishersof the Africa Travel Magazine, voice of the Africa Travel Association since 1995, and with my roots in Vancouver for four generations, I am pleased to welcome the ESTC 2008 Conference. It will be at one of my favorite hotels, the Fairmont, formerly Hotel Vancouver. One of our greatest pleasures with the Africa Travel Association has been at ATA's Annual Cultural and Ecotourism Symposium in various African host countries. A key facet of our mandate is to make African trade and tourism leaders aware of opportunities across North America, where they may participate, network, exchange and learn. This has been a valuable and rewarding experience for our editorial team and ATA Canada Chapter. Our other publication, Air Highways, the Magazine of Open Skies, covers destinations and events around the world, with a focus on airlines, airports and gateways to travel, trade and tourism. The websites of both magazines rank high on Google and Yahoo for many topics. We intend to cover the 2008 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in advance, during and following its October launch. Welcome to Canada and British Columbia. Jerry W. Bird


Leaders in sustainable tourism from across North America and beyond will be meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, October 27-29th, 2008 at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC 2008), The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), announced today.

Hosted by the British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts and the Council of Tourism Associations of British Columbia, the conference will provide opportunities for business leaders, travel and tourism professionals and community members to gain knowledge of the latest trends in ecotourism and sustainable tourism, learn practical skills, and participate in invaluable networking and knowledge sharing. The ESTC 2008 will be held at the legendary Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and will also include pre-conference trips to both Whistler and Victoria, B.C.'s capital city.

"We are pleased to be hosting the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in 2008,"said Stan Hagen, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Sport and the Arts. "As a key economic driver for the province, tourism, and more importantly sustainable tourism, will play an influential role in how we reach our recently mandated goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020. This is the most aggressive target for any destination in North America."

This is the third conference by TIES focusing on sustainability in travel and tourism in North America. In 2005, TIES hosted the first Ecotourism in the U.S. Conference, which was followed by this year's North American Ecotourism Conference (NAEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, which brought together sustainable tourism professionals and businesses from across the U.S. and Canada.

Through the development of these two historic conferences, TIES has witnessed significant growth of the sustainable tourism community in the U.S. and Canada. Recognizing the importance of this movement for the region's tourism industry as a whole, TIES is holding the ESTC yearly to expand the network of industry practitioners and experts and to encourage greater awareness and implementation of the principles of ecotourism and sustainability practices in the U.S. and Canada. "TIES is thrilled to partner with the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts, which is generously sponsoring the ESTC 2008, and to collaborate with the BC Sustainable Tourism Collective during a time when we are seeing the sustainable tourism industry experience unprecedented growth around the world," says Kelly Bricker, TIES Executive Director.

As the conference name indicates, the annual conference will not only provide sustainable solutions for tourism businesses, it will also highlight innovative sustainable practices and case studies in the U.S. and Canada, and discuss effective ways to utilize the sustainable tourism community's experience and expertise to tackle some of the critical issues and key challenges facing the industry today, including: climate change, sustainable business practices, wildlife conservation, community partnerships and innovative technologies for greening the tourism industry.

With British Columbia preparing to welcome the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Vancouver and Whistler, the timing of bringing this conference to Canada is perfect. A recent study conducted by TNS Canadian Facts, a market and opinion research firm, reported that nearly two-thirds of Canadian travelers say they are concerned about global warming, as well as the loss of natural habitats and ecosystems. The study also found that 83 per cent of Canadian travelers agree that sustainable tourism practices would have a positive effect on the world's future and that many Canadian travelers would take personal action including switching from a preferred holiday destination to another that supported sustainable tourism.

TIES has launched the ESTC 2008 conference website - www.ecotourismconference.org through which updates on the conference program will be announced in the coming months. Media inquiries about the ESTC 2008 conference should be sent to: media@ecotourism.org or +1 202 347 9203?412. To request information on sponsorship opportunities for the ESTC 2008, please contact: sponsorship@ecotourism.org or +1 202 347 9203?422.

World Renowned Explorer and Anthropologist Wade Davis to Keynote the ESTC 2008

  The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is pleased to announce that Wade Davis will be a featured keynote speaker at the upcoming Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference.

A National Geographic Explorer, an ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, Davis is an inspirational story teller with vast knowledge of Indigenous societies and cultures, myth and religion, and the global biodiversity crisis - to name just a few of the numerous fields of research that have taken him across the globe. In 2004, he was made an Honorary Member of the Explorers Club, one of twenty so named in the hundred-year history of the club. In recent years, his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland. He is a principal character in the MacGillivray Freeman IMAX film, Grand Canyon Adventure, released in the spring of 2008. 

Davis is a native of British Columbia, and as a licensed river guide and avid outdoor adventurer, he has developed intimate local, as well as global, knowledge of the biological, cultural and spiritual web of life. As a global explore who has been described as "a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet, and passionate defender of all of life's diversity," Davis will draw from his varied travel experience and share his insights into the roles of ecotourism and sustainable tourism as a tool to continue enhancing bio-cultural diversity.

Davis' featured keynote presentation will be during the plenary lunch session, on Wednesday, October 29th, 11:30am - 12:30pm. Embodying the spirit of this one-of-a-kind annual industry conference, Davis' address will be among the premier highlights of the ESTC 2008, which hosts over 500 delegates, 25 sessions, 60 speakers and endless networking opportunities.

"One of the intense pleasures of travel," said Davis, in a speech on his studies in cultural diversity, "is the opportunity to live among peoples who have not forgotten the old ways, who feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants...peoples [who] reveal that there are other options, other means of interpreting existence, other ways of being. This is an idea that can only inspire hope."

Registration for the ESTC 2008 is available online at: www.ecotourismconference.org. The conference registration includes, among other benefits, admission to the priority-interest meetings scheduled on Monday, October 27th: Indigenous Business Leaders in Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism (10am to 1pm); Mainstreaming Sustainability in the Tourism Industry: The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (11am to 1pm); and The Opportunity for Marine Tourism Development in Chilean Patagonia (10am to 1pm).

International sustainability event at Vancouver's green-minded Fairmont Hotel







Footloose in Vancouver'
by Jerry W. Bird 

Having been footloose in Vancouver, British Columbia since the days of streetcars, interurban trams, White Lunch Cafeteria on Hastings, Woodwards Toyland and Union Steamships, I consider the West End my special domain. Morning, noon or night, it's always an inviting place for rubber neckers, casual strollers, browsers, grazers and window shoppers. A sea of umbrellas one moment, local denizens decked in everything from beachwear to high fashion the next. It's a passing parade, minus the 76 trombones-just waiting for you to follow along.

Recently, we walked Vancouver Harbor's new stretch of Seawall for the third time since the massive construction project began. From historic Gastown, we headed west to English Bay via the Pan Pacific Hotel and Canada Place Cruise Ship Centre, Coal Harbor Marina, Cardero's and the newly renovated Westin Bayshore Resort Hotel. Next time we'll continue the full stretch to Stanley Park (another 5 minutes) and beyond. What a marvelous change with all the landscaping, shops and upscale condos. I made my rendezvous at the Coast Hotel at English Bay in exactly 45 minutes, allowing for a leisurely pace. 5n my opinion, Vancouver's West end extends from Burrard Street to English Bay, taking in Coal Harbor, Stanley Park, Lions Gate Bridge, English Bay, Sunset Beach and the entrance to False Creek at Burrard Bridge. On a tight schedule? Save a few minutes via SkyTrain, from Waterfront Station (by Canada Place) to Burrard Station, with transfers to BC Transit buses. Otherwise it's more fun walking, with lots to see and do.

From cruising the fjords to cruising the streets
My first view of Vancouver's West End was from the deck of the Princess Louise, one of CPR's fleet of steamships that plied the Inside Passage to and from Skagway Alaska. What better introduction to a great city after four days of wilderness, waves and whales, than the vision of Lion's Gate Bridge and Stanley Park. So, if you've disembarked from one of this year's 250 Alaska Cruises, or gone footloose from a convention at Canada Place, the West End begins half a block away.

On the corner, the Marine Building stands like a royal guard, its 1930s art deco facade every bit as elegant as it was I attended the Faulkner Smith Art School there years ago as an aspiring cartoonist. Once touted as Vancouver's skyscraper, tallest in the British Empire at the time, it's now dwarfed by the glass towers of the city's growing financial district. On the Marine Building's ground floor is the Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant, one of the classiest oriental dining spots in town, graced by a sweeping harbor view, with float planes, Helijets and marine craft of every description. A snowcapped mountain backdrop completes the panorama.

Here at the foot of Burrard Street, you might start your trek after a quick stop at at the Tourism Vancouver Info Center, leaving with some maps and brochures. And as you look at the float planes landing from Victoria, Nanaimo and points beyond, you'll spot a new stretch of seawalk that links the downtown's waterfront hotels with Stanley Park, English Bay and False Creek. We took the walk and viewed the upscale housing developments near the Westin Bayshore Hotel and Coal Harbor. Naturally, we stopped at the Marina and Carderos, a new waterfront restaurant that's got class, a reputation for great food, and a million dollar view. .