Vail wants to be a ‘Sustainable Destination’; meeting is Thursday | VailDaily.com

Vail wants to be a ‘Sustainable Destination’; meeting is Thursday

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VAIL — The town of Vail and Walking Mountains Science Center invite the public to give feedback on the Vail Sustainable Destination Project during a free lunch and open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Grand View room on the third level of the Lionshead Welcome Center.

Vail is aiming to become the first certified sustainable destination in the United States under criteria from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, an organization established by the United Nations Environment Programme and other global partners in response to growth in tourism and the desire to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices. The destination certification criteria include 40 best practices that any tourism destination should aspire to reach. Another global organization, Sustainable Travel International, is also a partner on the Vail project.

The free lunch and open house event will engage the public in providing feedback on the destination certification criteria.

"We are creating a standard that Vail and other mountain towns can adopt so that we can all grow and develop in a responsible and sustainable manner. The increasing impacts of our success in promoting mountain tourism has a double-edged sword that requires proactive collaborative planning for the future," said Walking Mountains Science Center founder and Vail Town Council member Kim Langmaid.

The town of Vail has a long history of environmental stewardship and sustainability including the protection of open space in its town charter, the creation of the Vail Nature Center and Preserve in the early 1970s, and more recently its proactive approach to restoring the water quality of Gore Creek.

"The repercussions of not doing something substantial right now are going to affect us very much in the future," said Susie Tjossem, executive director at Colorado's Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame. "Getting out in front of this movement is paramount. If you don't have these kinds of programs in place, or ways to measure and show 'yes we are' sustainable, then we're going to be left behind."

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The Vail Sustainable Destination Project began when the Environment Committee of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships was tasked to deliver an innovative legacy project. As a first step, the Environment Committee launched the Actively Green Sustainable Business Training and Certification Program, which continues to support businesses and other organizations and is coordinated by Walking Mountains Science Center. The Actively Green program supports the larger destination certification project and provides local businesses and employees avenues to participate along the journey to make Vail a sustainable destination. "Vail is a great example of the progress and success that destinations can have when they harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good," added Brian Mullis, CEO and founder of Sustainable Travel International.

Among the 40 certification criteria for destinations are sustainability indicators including tourism infrastructure, planning for climate change, protection of sensitive environments and wildlife, affordable housing, light and noise pollution, programs for youth and seniors, stakeholder participation, cultural heritage protection, and sustainability education.

For more information, go to http://www.walkingmountains.org/vsd.