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Earth Day: Canada’S Responsible Tourism, Banyan Tree’S Turtles, and Sun Siyam Maldives

Responsible Tourism for Earth Day

In a major step forward for visitor economy and the planet, Destination Greater Victoria (DGV) recently received the European-based and UNESCO supported Responsible Tourism Institute’s (RTI) prestigious Biosphere Certification. This also marks the first urban destination in Canada or the United States to join an elite group of tourism destinations worldwide recognized for their commitment to principles of environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, equity, and social responsibility. 

DGV Biosphere Announcement. Photo by KevinLightPhoto.

This is also not the first sustainable tourism milestone for the region. In 2021, DGV was certified by Ostrom Climate as the first major destination organization in North America to be Carbon Neutral, and in 2022, the first to be Climate Positive. DGV continues to reduce its carbon footprint and implement sustainability best practices through its collaboration with Synergy Enterprises, a noted corporate sustainability management firm.

RTI’s Biosphere certification is the most highly coveted due to its credibility, recognition worldwide and alignment with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20 and the COP21 Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The value of certification is an outstanding milestone as travelers and meeting planners are increasingly considering factors like local quality of life, environmental impacts, and how a destination, its DMO and its tourism sector affects and serves local communities, when making decisions about where to travel.

South Island SUP Paddleboarding Water Gorge Upper Harbour (left). The Butchart Gardens (right).

“The relationship between tourism, visitors and local residents is an important one,” said Paul Nursey, CEO, DGV. “As an organization that represents Greater Victoria on the world stage and has a mandate to support and grow its visitor economy, the ultimate goal of everything we do is to serve local residents and contribute positively to their quality of life.”

As an international destination, Greater Victoria looks forward to welcoming all travelers who seek authentic experiences in a destination that supports responsible tourism. This RTI achievement was celebrated at The Parkside Hotel and Spa, one of four Greater Victoria hotels with its own individual Biosphere certification.

Siting tourism as the world’s largest industry with the greatest impact on the planet, among DGV’s other notable commitments and achievements related to social and environmental sustainability is co-founding the IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism Conference, which annually attracts some 300 delegates from North America and around the world to explore innovative and collaborative sustainable solutions for positive tourism development across Canada. 

Turtle at Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree Turtles and Birds 

As a way of honoring the planet on Earth Hour, Earth Day and World Environment Day, Banyan Tree spotlights Bintan’s turtle conservation efforts and a soon-to-launch birdwatching experience at Lang Co. 

Out of seven species of sea turtles that exist on the planet, six can be found in Indonesia. Two of them are the endangered Green and Hawksbill turtles that lay their eggs on Bintan’s beaches twice a year. Since 2008, the team at Banyan Tree Bintan has released over 5,820 turtles into the South China Seas after collecting and nurturing them. 

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

In Vietnam, Banyan Tree and Angsana Lang Co is a tropical haven of flora and fauna, including 15 species of wild colorful birds. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the two resorts, they are launching a photo gallery documenting the birds all shot by professional photographers. Guests can also collect data to assist in conservation efforts at Bach Ma National Park in central Vietnam.

A global movement where non-essential electric lights are turned off for one hour a year, the annual Earth Hour is a symbol of commitment to the planet, observed in 190 countries. This year’s theme is “Invest in our Planet.” and in line with this event, lights will be turned off at all Banyan Tree resorts across the globe from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on March 25.

Banyan Tree Escape, Buahan

Sun Siyam Cares in the Maldives

With five resorts located across the Maldives, and one soon to reopen in Sri Lanka, Sun Siyam Resorts offers unforgettable experiences and affordable luxury for couples, families, watersport enthusiasts and travelers who are looking to make a change. From the biggest floating water park to the first horse ranch in the Maldives, to stunning overwater villas with slides into the ocean, a floating platform, romantic dining experience, the world’s first underwater jet pack in collaboration with Cudajet, and premium, all-inclusive dining and beverage packages, Sun Siyam Resorts is a stand-out.

Siyam World Maldives

Guests can join the resort’s biodiversity conservation program with in-house marine biologists, to assist in the creation and restoration of new coral reefs in the lagoon.  Led by Thuhu, lead Marine Biologist at Siyam World, guests work together to collect damaged coral and replant it on metal frames. Visitors enjoy learning from her and watching her work, leaving further inspired to know that their work made an impact in protecting marine life for future generations.  The Farm Island at Iru Veli property, called Llohi, is a place where guests can meet the farmers and learn about the produce grown that consists of over 38 varieties of fruits and vegetables that are supplied to the resorts.   

Sun Siyam Sri Lanka

Reflecting the values at the heart of the company, the Sun Siyam Cares program was developed to care for the earth, but also for the community and the people within and around the organization. They are committed to the preservation of local heritage and sustainability, and the group works together with the local islands to protect various species and engage in activities such as coral planting and bio-farming.  Guests can actively “make a difference” and leave the Maldives knowing that they had the experience of a lifetime, but also made a difference. 

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