News & Updates

Leave No Trace Contributes New Ideas for Regenerative Tourism with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Chloe Lindahl - May 31, 2023

Leave No Trace traveled to Key West, Florida last month to attend the Blue Beacon: Reimagining Tourism and Recreation through Destination Stewardship conference to spark discussion and thought around reimagining regenerative tourism practices, among other tourism issues. 

Regenerative Tourism goes a step beyond sustainable tourism and focuses on the idea that as a visitor, you can leave an area even better than you found it. Tourism is a powerful economic driver for many communities, especially for coastal ones with fragile and beautiful ecosystems. The appeal of regenerative strategies can be especially powerful where the land meets the sea. 

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is responsible for the wellbeing for many of these water sanctuaries, including Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary — the site of a 2020 Leave No Trace Hot Spot and North America’s only living coral barrier reef. NOAA’s sanctuaries span upwards of 620,000 square miles and contain the homelands of many Native American tribes, Native Hawaiian, Native Samoan, and other Indigenous peoples within them. NOAA estimates these areas host around 5 million visitors annually. Because of the massive influx of tourists yearly to such a fragile ecosystem, NOAA and other marine resource managers have to find a way to create a culture of regenerative tourism to help keep these areas thriving and healthy. 

The Blue Beacon Conference was put together by Grace Bottittia, the National Recreation and Tourism Coordinator/ NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System. According to Bottittia, “Because we manage the water we don’t necessarily connect with people who enter the water, there’s no gates, there’s no entry fees, only sometimes a visitor center. Because of that we really need a hand-in-hand partnership to help get the messaging across. That’s how we move forward with resource protection.” 

National Marine Sanctuaries provide critical habitats and ecosystems for marine life, as well as protecting and preserving historical areas. Their importance is not to be underestimated, hence the need to involve communities, leaders and environmental organizations in the conversation to better spread awareness, education and insight into these special areas. “We need to pull in different voices to listen to others, to get messaging out about stewardship, that’s how we protect our great waterways,” states Bottittia. 

Leave No Trace mission is to share the organization’s perspective and expertise in how responsible travel and tourism can boost stewardship and help regenerate local economies. Leave No Trace currently works with a portfolio of over 50 destinations across the U.S. By effectively educating travelers before their arrival, Leave No Trace helps people minimize their impact on coastal and open water environments.

For more information surrounding these efforts check out NOAA and Leave No Trace Tourism Partners.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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