June 15, 2024

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TOURISM TALK: Don’t love it to death: Protecting B.C.’s natural beauty

2 min read

British Columbia boasts vast swathes of breathtaking nature, a welcome escape for city dwellers seeking tranquillity. Destinations like Squamish, Cultus Lake, Whistler and Harrison Hot Springs beckon with their natural beauty, but their popularity can strain local resources. This is where overtourism becomes a threat.

The Sea-to-Sky Destination Management Council launched the impactful “Don’t Love It to Death” program in 2022. This campaign serves as a powerful reminder: enjoying the outdoors requires mindfulness of our impact on delicate ecosystems and communities. It’s a multi-faceted approach, combining marketing, education and management strategies to promote responsible tourism.

Here’s a sobering look at the challenges and how you can be part of the solution.

Leave no trace: The sheer volume of visitor-generated garbage found in our forests and lakes is alarming. Embrace the “leave no trace” principle by packing out everything you bring in.

Be bear aware: Human-wildlife conflict is a serious issue. Brutal truth: an average of 570 bears are euthanized annually in BC due to such conflicts. Follow WildSafe B.C.’s guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and the wildlife.

Adventure smart: Planning is key! Utilize the Adventure Smart website to minimize your risk of becoming a search and rescue statistic. B.C. experiences a staggering 1,500 search and rescue incidents each year.

Responsible behaviour: 42 per cent of forest fires are human-caused. Enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Never ignore campfire bans and only light fires in designated areas. The B.C. FireSmart website provides valuable resources for responsible fire practices at home and outdoors.

As it says on the “Don’t Love it to Death” website, “Disrespectful, negligent and inconsiderate behaviour is threatening the places we love. Having access to beautiful spaces and vibrant communities is a privilege — one we will lose if we don’t change our ways. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and do something about it. (That means you, too, locals and residents). We are all guests on these lands and waters. Respect the people, wildlife, natural spaces and communities by exploring mindfully.”

Tourism Harrison, along with many other destination management organizations, is leading the charge. Together, we can ensure that B.C.’s incredible nature remains pristine for generations to come. Be mindful, be responsible and explore with respect.

Robert Reyerse is the ecxecutive director of Tourism Harrison River Valley

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