With a Lead. Sustain. Engage. call to action, the ESTC 2010 conference officially opened today in Portland, Oregon. This year marks the 20th anniversary for the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) which organized the conference that traditionally brings together conservationists, community leaders, sustainable travel operators, government tourism managers, and students in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities that are available in the travel and tourism industry.
Given the topic, it should come as no surprise that the 3-day conference offers no less than five voluntourism opportunities. For Day 1, the voluntourism project was held at Columbia Springs, which is a 100 acre urban green space located in Vancouver, Washington. Participants were transported on an eco-shuttle to the site, which primarily operates as a hands-on conservation education facility for local students. After a brief tour, everyone got quite dirty clearing invasive ivy from a nature trail and restoring another part of the trail.
Back at the conference, attendees participated in Global Perspective Workshops that focused on topics such as the International Year of Biodiversity, Green Living Project, and Tribewanted Sustainable Village Initiative.
Afterward, a drum performance by the group Portland Taiko marked the official opening of the ESTC 2010 conference followed by a panel discussion about how Portland’s reputation for being clean, green, and friendly has affected sustainable business operations for both non-profits and corporations. There were also some lively discussions about how federal and local government entities could help in facilitating sustainable businesses. An eco-fashion show capped off the night highlighting fashions from local eco-designers and apparel companies.