Institute at the Golden Gate

The Sustainable Communities Through Tourism initiative aims to create actionable steps toward sustainable solutions in the tourism and travel industry across a number of international communities.

Stemming from initial guild meetings at the Institute’s 2009 signature event, Turning the Tide, a dynamic array of leaders in sustainable tourism, architecture, clean technology, conservation, business, and academia have come together to create solutions to empower local communities, support local economies, foster conservation, and provide positive experiences for travelers.

In 2010 the group launched two new projects and guild members continue to leverage new opportunities through their collaborative work.

Aqualogic: A Clean Tech Water Treatment Solution

The hotel and resort industry has a fundamental role to play in addressing the impacts of climate change and is well positioned to assist with maintaining pristine island and coastal environments and social well-being. One of the primary actions the industry can take is to upgrade hotel and resort wastewater systems in fragile coastal areas.

A collaborative group of partners from the for-profit and nonprofit sectors are working to launch a new social enterprise called Acqualogic, which will be dedicated to providing a scalable water reclamation system for coastal and island tourist destinations. Acqualogic will provide wastewater treatment and service for small and medium sized resorts throughout the developing world.

The start-up company will be developing modular low-cost, low-maintenance wastewater treatment and reclamation technology, which will have a small carbon footprint and produce high quality water that can be reused throughout a resort. Acqualogic is also developing a web-based monitoring and control system to assure that the new systems operate reliably once they are installed. Read about the initial phase of the project through our TIES Innovator Award nomination here

Business Models for Sustainable Destination Management

Through collaborative conversations, Institute Sustainable Communities Guild members identified universal concern regarding the lack of information available to governments, private sector companies, and NGOs on the sustainable management of tourism destinations worldwide.

The Institute’s network and leadership fostered a collaboration between EplerWood International (EWI) and Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (CSGE) to discuss developing a business case for the management of sustainable tourism destinations. Members are working to quantify the true costs of managing the infrastructure, ecosystems, and social issues upon which this large industry relies.

CSGE also formulated a research program with Megan Epler Wood of EWI with a focus on the country of Belize, which is now being piloted in conjunction with the Belize Tourism Board. For more information about the project visit Cornell University's website here