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Sonoma County Seeks Sustainable Travellers

Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) announced today a significant commitment to helping travelers enjoy a visit to the area while protecting the treasured local natural and cultural resources.
Through three distinct programmes, SCT is working with partners across the county to ensure resources are protected and the vibrant economic engine that tourism provides to the economy is focused on creating a balance between robust tourism development and sustainable tourism practices.
According to the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), “… responsible tourism aims to minimise tourism’s negative impacts on the environment and maximise the positive contributions tourism can make to local communities. Travelling responsibly is not about halting development or staying home. It is about managing travel and destinations in an environmentally and culturally responsible way and designing tourism programs and individual trips carefully, to provide travellers with the experience they seek, while leaving a positive footprint on their destination.”

Destination Stewardship

As part of its FY19-21 strategic plan, SCT will move from being a destination marketing organisation (DMO) to a destination stewardship organisation (DSO) with the goal of ensuring all programming is in the best interest of Sonoma County. The core programming around sales and marketing remain as paramount, but the activities and associated messaging will centre on promoting the area for travellers who seek an experience that aligns with the values around stewardship and responsible travel.

SCT joins several Sonoma County businesses that have already shown a dedication to sustainability.  The Sonoma County Winegrowers have set the global benchmark for sustainable growing practices. And several of the area’s lodging properties have either incorporated sustainable programs or worked with developers and builders to attain LEED certification ensuring the design, construction, operations and maintenance of their properties result in resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.

“Sonoma County has an extraordinary abundance of natural, agricultural and cultural resources that we as destination stewards must commit to protecting,” said Claudia Vecchio, President/CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “Travellers are increasingly interested in protecting a destination’s resources so we feel strongly that this emphasis will resonate not only with locals, but our global visitors as well.”

Travelling Kindly

Through a short, but insightful pledge, visitors can confirm their commitment to considering the environment and those around them while in Sonoma County.  The pledge can be found on the new microsite:

“Sonoma County currently sees about 10.8 million day and overnight visitors per year,” Vecchio said. “If just one-tenth of our visitors raise their hands for sustainability, we’ll reach our goal of 1 million within a year.”

Sonoma County also is working with Kind Traveller, an innovative online travel agent (OTA) in a program that allows visitors to give back to local organisations with every booked hotel stay.  Travellers who book via the Kind Traveller website can give back to one of three area organisations: Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma Land Trust and Russian Riverkeeper.

Nearly 75 percent of travellers polled in Tourism Cares and Phocuswright’s Good Travels research study believe it’s important that their travel dollars benefit the communities they visit.

“Because of the partnership with Sonoma County Tourism and their commitment to sustainable travel, travellers will have the opportunity to have a values-aligned vacation in Sonoma County and support hotels and charities that are committed to the wellbeing and sustainability of the destination,” said Jessica Blotter, CEO & co-founder of Kind Traveller.

Destination Master Planning

Sonoma County Tourism has engaged the Coraggio Group to help craft a destination master plan. The plan will provide a roadmap for becoming a destination that compels travellers from around the world, while interconnecting the needs of local residents and businesses.

Through a series of meetings with and surveys to residents, business leaders, elected officials, and others interested in this process, the plan will identify potential outcomes and the strategies for achieving the critical long-term objectives. Community meetings will kick off in the early fall with the entire process set to complete in the spring of 2020.

“The tourism master plan will give Sonoma County the chance to identify and, as much as is possible, control its destiny,” said Steve Jung, chair, Sonoma County Tourism board of directors. “Destinations run into challenges when they allow their future to be managed by outside influencers. This gives us a chance to create a framework for our future under which we can all align.

For more information, call 707-522-5800 or 800-576-6662, or visit

Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

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