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In partnership with the Office of Innovation and Economic Development, the Center advocates for many business, communities, and travelers already implementing sustainable tourism practices. The Center also serves as a link between East Carolina University's capacity and expertise in providing sustainability information and technical assistance to those seeking applicable, relevant, and research-based information on sustainable tourism. Examples of tourism organizations that have taken active steps to reduce their negative environmental and social impacts are profiled in the Center's Sustainable Practices Initiative where readers can learn about those real-life sustainable practices in action.
The Center also reaches out to the public directly, conducting presentations to community groups and professional or civic organizations, conducting regional workshops, responding to sustainable tourism related inquiries, conducting joint research and publishing weekly sustainability tips, business tip sheets, sector specific sustainable practices checklist, sustainability reports, and a widely distributed quarterly newsletter for the tourism industry. These resources are intended to provide the basic but necessary information industry leaders need so that they may make well-informed decisions that benefit travel destinations today without sacrificing future opportunities.
The Center’s outreach initiatives also seek to build relationships with industry partners that result in unique experiential learning opportunities for students and applied research opportunities for faculty.
Collaboration with other governmental agencies and non-profit organizations is another important aspect of this initiative. To further this effort, a joint outreach coordinator position has been created that is shared between East Carolina University and the NC Department of Commerce Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development, establishing the first known sustainability focused position at a state tourism office. The Center is involved in efforts to support sustainable tourism within many other entities as well, such as the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the NC Cooperative Extension, and many of North Carolina’s economic development organizations, among others.
Here are just a few of the Center’s outreach efforts:
Dr. Shaun Willson has assembled widely-accepted, standardized protocols in order to perform measurements of what he considers to be the most critical component of sustainability for the tourism industry—carbon emissions. Unlike an index or business-to-business comparison, such a measurement can be compared to a known threshold and thereby used to guide consumers and businesses toward a specific, definitive goal of sustainability. This work has resulted in an online calculator to measure carbon emissions from tourism operations.