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Travel Oregon Introduces Sustainable Tourism Program

ODI event on sustainable business

Image by Overseas Development Institute via Flickr

Travel Oregon last week launched two new programs that will develop tourism while preserving and protecting Oregon. Under the umbrella brand, “Travel Oregon Forever,” the new Sustainable Business Challenge will incentivize businesses to implement sustainable and environmentally responsible practices. The Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund will give businesses and travelers opportunity to contribute to projects that enhance Oregon’s destinations.

Sustainable tourism is a growing market that Oregon is well positioned to capture. In 2009, nearly 85% of visitors considering travel to Oregon identified themselves as “environmentally conscious.” Nationwide, 44% of travelers considered environmental impact to be important when planning travel and nearly one-third would pay a premium for “green” travel options.

“Since the Bottle bill was passed in 1971, Oregon has been a leader in sustainable practices,” said Kristin Dahl, Travel Oregon’s Manager for Sustainable Tourism Development. “Those practices are now influencing travel decisions. With Travel Oregon Forever, we’re giving Oregon businesses a competitive advantage by showcasing their good efforts for this expanding travel demographic,” she said.

Based on the 37 Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, Oregon’s Sustainable Business Challenge is a voluntary reporting program that quantifies and qualifies the commitment tourism and hospitality organizations are making toward running sustainable and environmentally responsible operations. All tourism-related organizations that offer a service to visitors are eligible to participate. They can achieve Silver, Gold, or Platinum status. For each level completed, participants receive special recognition and marketing exposure through Travel Oregon’s advertising network.

The Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund encourages travelers to donate money to projects that improve our natural environment and support local culture. Hoteliers who participate in the program collect a one-dollar donation added to the guest’s bill which goes to fund selected projects. Seven projects, one in each of Oregon’s designated tourism regions, were selected for the Fund based on the benefit they offer the natural environment or the support they give the community to make them a more appealing destination for travelers.

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