We recently asked Tour Salt Spring, a guided tour company based on Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands of BC’s Pacific Coast and Sustainable Tourism certified Gold member, to share what they have been doing this last year to progress sustainability within their company. What we heard back from Jason, the owner, was too amazing not to share. Read on for more!
Tell us a bit about your business. What makes you different?
Tour Salt Spring (aka Western Splendour Tours & Charters) provides sight-seeing tours, wine tours, and private charters on Salt Spring Island, BC. Tour Salt Spring specializes in giving you a unique experience of Salt Spring Island by sharing our local knowledge of the island’s history, culture, ecology, and taking you to interesting artisans, food & wine producers, and special places.
Why is sustainability important to you/your business?
We recognize that adverse environmental impacts caused by human activity are a serious threat to global ecosystems. We want to do our part to reduce the impacts of our business and to be an example of how this can be done very practically.
Why did you join Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable Tourism is a respected, legitimate certification company. Their certification process is rigorous. Although it adds to our workload, our highest priority in choosing a certification company is that people can trust its evaluations.
What sustainability-related projects, policies or initiatives do you most want travellers to know about?
We reduce the number of vehicles that need to be brought to Salt Spring Island, and how much driving is done. We do this in numerous ways, including by providing pickup and drop-off service anywhere on the island. We operated vehicles that are carbon neutral, either by being powered by used vegetable oil from local restaurants or by solar energy collected by our solar arrays.
What are some goals and/or actions you plan to take in the future to further increase the sustainability of your business?
Although we already have a ‘gold’ rating, we are continuously working to improve our sustainability. As suitable electric vehicles become available, we hope to add more to our small fleet. We also work to encourage our partner businesses to move more towards sustainability.
How has Tour Salt Spring been affected by the current pandemic situation, and how has it pivoted?
When the coronavirus pandemic hit BC, Jason’s business, like many other tourism-based businesses, was forced to close for normal operations. But that did not stop him from continuing to provide support to his Salt Spring Island community. As restrictions were put into place and their community hunkered down, Jason partnered with numerous local producers on Salt Spring Island to maintain access for residents to food and local goods. Says Jason, “My priority has been to provide low-cost delivery services for local farms and food producers who in normal years, would be selling a lot of products to visitors at the local market. This helps not only the farmers but also residents who would rather not enter stores during COVID.”
And of course, with Tour Salt Spring’s fleet being solar-and veggie-oil-powered, this means fewer carbon emissions overall. If that’s not a success story, we don’t know what is!
Kudos to Jason, his family, and the team at Tour Salt Spring for finding the silver lining in an uncertain time, for maintaining community access to local food and supplies, and continuing to be an example of tourism businesses operating from a place of integrity.
To learn more about Tour Salt Spring, and to view a list of current farms and stores that Tour Salt Spring is supporting with its delivery services, please visit their website.