Thompson Okanagan Region first destination in the Americas to earn International Biosphere Destination certification recognized by UNESCO and United Nations

Certification by Responsible Tourism Institutes meets United Nations and Paris Agreement on Climate Change Criteria

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia, Nov. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) announced today that the Thompson Okanagan Region is the first destination in the Americas to earn the prestigious Biosphere Destination certification, recognizing the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the Thompson Okanagan as a tourism destination.

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and their members successfully met 137 benchmarks that contain sustainability measurements that track standards such as affordable, clean energy and water use; human rights and social justice; gender equality; cultural diversity and equality; labour standards; health and poverty standards; and, sustainable communities.

The Biosphere Destination certification is the only designation to incorporate the United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the main guidelines of the Paris Climate Agreement.

"In May, TOTA signed the Letter of Commitment in our effort to obtain the Biosphere Designation Certificate and today we are one of only 20 destinations globally to have reached this level of tourism excellency and the first in the Americas," says President and CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Glenn Mandziuk. "This designation allows us to market the region globally as one of the most sustainable and responsible tourist destinations in the world."

The Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) created and developed the Responsible Tourism System (RTS), recognized under the Biosphere Destination seal. This distinction emerged as the answer to establish the criteria for achieving a sustainable standard within international tourist businesses. Currently, the RTI maintains a Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO, is affiliated to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

"Tourism is a global connector, contributing to reducing inequality within and between countries, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, supporting environmental sustainability and creating opportunities for learning and prosperity for all," says Patricio Azcarate Diaz de Losada, Director of the Responsible Tourism Institute. "We are pleased to be certifying TOTA with this rare and prestigious designation that accredits compliance with standards based on the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals."

TOTA and its members see over 3.5 million visitors per year and generating nearly $2 billion in direct economic impact annually.

For more information and a map of the region, please visit: or, view the video at: 


The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Region in British Columbia, Canada, is a major tourism destination, attracting over 3.5 million visitors and generating nearly $2 billion in direct economic impact annually. A map and more information about the region can be found here:

The Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) shares the view expressed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that sustainable tourism certification plays an important role in regulating tourism services by offering significant benefits for environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The Biosphere Destination certification is based on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) integrated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are only 20 accredited destinations worldwide and TOTA is the first in the Americas.

RTI created the Responsible Tourism System (RTS) that contains a series of certifications to ensure compliance with certain requirements regarding the principles of sustainability and continuous improvement in line with UN and UNESCO principles.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is now accountable to continuously meet 137 different benchmarks that have been met by the association and its members.

For a full list of standards, please visit:

About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association:
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a non-profit society governed by an elected Board of Directors who represents business and community tourism interests throughout the region and is supported by and representative of Destination British Columbia (DBC). It is an industry-led organization that represents and supports all business and community tourism interests in the region, while also helping to implement provincial tourism policies.

About the Responsible Tourism Institute:
The Responsible Tourism Institute, hereinafter referred to as RTI, is an international institution linked to UNESCO, founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), international accreditation body, and affiliated member of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). RTI promotes tourism models that directly contribute to effective maintenance and promotion of a destination's cultural and natural heritage. Its goal is to promote sustainable development within the tourism industry while encouraging the employment of each destination's intrinsic capacities.

For further information:
Media Contact: Hayley Thomas, LBMG,, 604-329-4747