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TOTA's Biosphere Program Relaunched

For Immediate Release

April 3, 2024

Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association’s United Nations Initiative Furthers Commitment to Building a Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Industry

Biosphere Commitment Program Relaunches with New Measurable Sustainability Platform

Photo credit: Boundary Country/Darren Robinson

Kelowna, B.C. - The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), leads the destination stewardship charge with a meaningful revamp of its Biosphere Commitment Program. The Biosphere program centres on giving regional tourism businesses tools to establish and achieve meaningful goals in sustainability. Areas of focus include environmental, social, diversity, equity and inclusion, governance, and climate action goals. With more than 80 committed companies and 19 partners over Thompson Okanagan’s nine subregions, TOTA is poised to significantly grow its membership. The update will include the Biosphere Sustainable Lifestyle (BSL) Platform, an innovation that optimizes sustainability management for the entire region.

According to’s Sustainable Travel Report 2023, 74% of travellers want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices, up from 66% in 2022. Fifty-one percent believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, while 44% of travellers reported that they don’t know where to find more sustainable travel options. To assist with this issue, according to, search engines and booking channels are highlighting sustainable businesses, specifically ones that work with Biosphere. This changing sentiment amongst travellers offers tourism businesses a unique opportunity to utilize the Biosphere designation to measure and verify themselves as a sustainable option while differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Through the Regional Biosphere Certification, TOTA has developed the Thompson Okanagan Biosphere Commitment Program. The Biosphere Commitment Program offers regional tourism businesses access to valuable tools and resources to enhance their operational practices while contributing to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals along with showcasing their commitment to sustainability and preserving this destination.

“As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured, gets done,’” shares Ellen Walker-Matthews, CEO at TOTA. “This mindset has invited the growth of our Biosphere Commitment Program to include a platform that allows participating businesses to measure, manage and report real-time results of their sustainability efforts.” TOTA’s unwavering dedication to advancing sustainability efforts within the region’s tourism industry is focused on a collective approach to understanding, offsetting, mitigating and adapting to our work as we live with a changing climate.

The Thompson Okanagan region has been a Biosphere Certified Gold Destination since 2017 when it became the first destination in the Americas to achieve the Biosphere Tourism Destination Certification from the Responsible Tourism Institute, an international non-profit NGO based in Spain. This international certification body maintains a Memorandum of Understanding with UNESCO, is affiliated with the World Tourism Organization, and is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The Biosphere system is aligned with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris COP21 Accord to Fight Climate Change.

The Gold Destination certification recognizes the region’s commitment to sustainable tourism practices through a comprehensive action plan for continuous improvement. As a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration, TOTA is committed to reducing emissions by half within the next decade and achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. TOTA is driven to take decisive action, having witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change and recognizing the positive outcomes of initiatives that address climate change through integrated social, economic, and environmental approaches.

Tourism businesses within the Thompson Okanagan region can learn more about the Biosphere Commitment Program and the BSL Platform by visiting


About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association: 

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a not-for-profit society that represents a geographic area nestled in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. The region’s name is derived from two major geographic features: the Thompson River and Okanagan Lake. TOTA plays a support, leadership, and growth role in the tourism industry as a regional destination management organization. It aims to stimulate ongoing sustainable growth by embracing the value of tourism through community engagement, innovative leadership in promoting authentic experiences, and inspiring creative collaboration. Key initiatives include; Biosphere Certified Gold Destination, 7 Generations Pledge, and Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. 

For more information about TOTA visit, or visit the consumer facing website Connect socially at @Thompson_Okanagan.

Media Contact: 

Krista Lochhead 

Hatch Comms



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