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Communicating Sustainable Outdoor Practices

By Laurie Haynes 08/28/2019

Many California DMOs and businesses have expanded sustainable travel strategies, amplified the positive effects of responsible travel and curbed negative environmental impact. The Golden State remains a prominent leader of responsible tourism as partners continue their work in destination sustainability and visitor education. 

The industry supports sustainable travel needs for both visitors and locals alike, as many seek out the Golden State’s beautiful landscapes, unique eateries and attractions, and iconic California culture.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) recently announced its shift from a Destination Marketing Organization to a Destination Stewardship Organization as part of its commitment to amplifying tourism’s positive role in the local community and environment. 

“Sales and marketing will remain very important for our organization,” said Director of Global Media Relations Birgitt Vaughan. “But everything will really stand on promoting our area to travelers who look for an experience that aligns with the values of stewardship and responsible travel.”

Sonoma County is positioned to become America’s first 100 percent sustainable wine region this year, a goal undertaken by Sonoma County Winegrowers five years ago in 2014. In partnership with SCT, green and white branded “Sonoma County Sustainable” signs posted at vineyards and wineries declare to travelers and locals the commitment to agricultural heritage and environmental stewardship. 

SCT launched a two-year partnership with Kind Traveler in August. This first-of-its-kind hotel booking platform unlocks special rates, perks and amenities in exchange for a $10 per night donation to a local charity within Sonoma County. 

Guests are incentivized with perks such as a complimentary bottle of wine, a credit towards dining, or a certificate to a local tasting room, while 100 percent of their donation goes directly to 1 of 3 local charity organizations: Redwood Empire Food BankRussian Riverkeeper, or Sonoma Land Trust. Visitors’ donations allow the organizations to maintain natural landscapes, hiking trails and waterways, and provide food to members of the community. 

Participating Kind Hotels include Farmhouse Inn, Timber Cove Resort, h2hotel, Harmon Guest House, Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, Hotel E by Greystone Hotel, The Sandman Hotel, Vintners Inn Sonoma County, El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen, and Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. 

Half Moon Bay

In Half Moon Bay, local agricultural and farming industries are critical to the beachside community. The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau first launched its Ecotourism program in 2007, and continues to encourage all travelers to take time to learn about local history, environmental conservation, and agricultural experiences when visiting the coastside. 

In July, the chamber held its 28th annual Farm + Fish + Flowers event, which gave visitors a rare opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the scenes in local farms, greenhouses, nurseries, and historic sites. 

The chamber also actively helps to promote eco-voluntourism by posting monthly beach cleanup events in partnership with local non-profits and environmental conservation organizations. 

“Before, we were picking up trash like wrappers and discarded cups,” said Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber President & CEO Krystlyn Giedt. “Now, we are down to microplastics.”

Sea Hugger, a local non-profit organization, became the first to acquire a Nurdle Trommel in the US. The trommel is a safe and interactive machine that removes hundreds of microplastics from beach sand, protecting wildlife and delicate beach ecosystems. As Sea Hugger works to educate the public about the importance of environmental conservation and action, travelers have an even greater opportunity to engage in sustainable tourism practices when visiting Half Moon Bay. 


Monterey County

In the central coast, the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau has continued its Sustainable Moments initiative, providing responsible tourism education and resources for hospitality businesses and visitors alike. 

The program includes a partner facing Sustainable Moments web page with resources to maintain a balanced tourism economy. Local businesses and partners can request educational materials such as restaurant menu inserts, hotel check-in inserts and double-sided window decals to be shared with visitors. Other resources include Sustainable Moments logos, social media content, branded videos and much more.  

On the consumer facing Sustainable Moments landing page, travelers are met by inspiring and educational tips for responsible travel, an Ecotourism Guide, and sustainable travel videos. The Sustainable Showcase spotlights experiences such Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Watch program, local recycling programs, water conservation and more. 

From economical experiences to luxurious getaways, California’s hospitality industry continues to lead the way in sustainable travel programming and visitor education. Industry partners have expanded initiatives that ensure positive impacts of travel in local communities and preservation of natural ecosystems for all to enjoy. 

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