Measuring Sustainability: Tourism Congress Carbon Footprint & the State of the Canadian Tourism Industry

Written by Angela Nagy

For the first time ever, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), in partnership with GreenStep Solutions, is measuring the carbon footprint of the 2021 Tourism Congress. This will help TIAC to better understand its environmental impacts and what opportunities exist to reduce these impacts for future national events. 

The carbon footprint of a conference can vary significantly. Transportation is typically the main contributor, while energy use at the venue and food and beverage are also potentially high sources of emissions. 

To quantify these impacts for the 2021 Tourism Congress, data will be collected for a range of activities including: 

  • Transport to the congress;
  • Accommodation;
  • Food and beverage provided at the conference venue;
  • Energy use for organizing the congress;
  • Energy use during the congress 
  • Printed paper materials for the congress.

This exercise will also include a post-conference survey to in-person delegates, to understand the mode of transportation to and within Ottawa, the type of accommodation selected, and the preferred food selected, i.e. regular or vegetarian options. 

All of this data will be entered into EcoBase Carbon Software to do the carbon footprint calculations, and then a report will be compiled and shared with delegates, to answer some important questions, including: 

  1. What is the share of each of the above activities in the total footprint of the congress?
  2. What is the difference in carbon footprint for online vs in-person attendees? 
  3. What are the potential carbon mitigation and offset opportunities?

The leadership demonstrated by TIAC in measuring the carbon footprint of the 2021 Tourism Congress, coincides perfectly with one of the sessions at the event, “Towards a Sustainable Tourism Industry.”  

Earlier this year, GreenStep launched the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge in partnership with TIAC, encouraging tourism businesses and destinations across the country to measure their sustainability performance using the free online assessment based upon the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), criteria and to make a commitment to improving this performance each year until 2030. 

In this session, Angela Nagy, President & CEO of GreenStep Solutions, will share how the tourism industry in Canada is performing based on the aggregate results of these assessments. She will be joined by Randy Durband, CEO of the GSTC, who will offer his insights around what Canada can do to boost both its performance and its profile as a sustainable tourism destination. 

If you represent a tourism business or destination and are interested in measuring your sustainability performance, you are invited to take the free Sustainability Score assessment, or go one step further and sign on to the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge. 


Angela Nagy is the President & CEO of GreenStep Solutions. Through their Sustainable Tourism division, she and her team work with tourism businesses and destinations to help them measure, improve and certify their sustainability performance.