ESTC Conference Deliciously Continues – Day 2 Highlights

The ESTC conference continued in Portland with participants first being given a choice to attend either a field session on green signature buildings such as the Gold Level LEED certified Ecotrust Building or a voluntourism project through the Portland Parks and Recreation Community Gardening program. Those who could not join the field sessions attended a revealing workshop on the current state of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC), which discussed both the progress and challenges in engaging tourism businesses to incorporate corporate social responsibility into their day-to-day business operations. Solutions ranging from consumer education to business owner training to transparency were offered.

Next, participants joined a tour operators roundtable on sustainable tourism business strategies, which detailed five case studies of tour operator best practices in terms of working toward the triple-bottom-line of environmental, financial, and social goals for the local communities that the tour operators serve. Companies such as Seascape Kayak Tours, Rios Tropicales, and Ecoventura were highlighted.

Afterward, a green building and design panel presentation featured the unveiling of the book Authentic Ecolodges by Hitesh Mehta who spent more than 2 years traveling the world in search of lodges that fulfilled a specific set of environmental criteria. The result is a beautiful chai (as opposed to coffee) table book full of inspiring vacation ideas.

The day finished with a panel discussion on the growing trend of voluntourism, which was followed by a sustainable culinary showcase at the Ecotrust Building in Portland. The showcase featured local restaurants, wineries, and breweries that have all implemented sustainable practices as well as the local smooth bluegrass band, Trash Can Joe, which played on instruments made from recycled items.

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