Members of the Barcelona Convention Bureau and 13 bureau partners pose at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park.
When members of the Barcelona Convention Bureau (BCB) and 13 bureau partners touched down in Las Vegas last October for IMEX America, they brought their sustainability ethos with them. The Barcelona-based destination professionals kicked off IMEX America with a full-day cleanup at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park.
The activity was intended to show U.S. incentive and corporate meeting planners that CSR initiatives — designed to make a difference within communities in and around Barcelona — are a top priority for BCB and its partners, said Cecile Dorian, BCB’s international promotion manager.
“The ability to make a positive contribution to society and the environment is always uppermost in our minds when carrying out our work,” Dorian told Convene via email.
Not only does the BCB create and promote its own CSR programs, the bureau acts as an intermediary. As part of services the bureau offers to event organizers, staff provides guidance and facilitates the process of finding the right CSR project that meets the needs and values of planners and their groups’ businesses.
The national park is about four hours northeast of Las Vegas, where IMEX took place last Oct. 16–18. BCB and its partners — all from Barcelona except for a few staff members from its North American representative, New York City–based Development Counsellors International — collected 14 bags of garbage while experiencing the park’s beauty.
Dorian came up with the idea to conduct a volunteer program as a lead-up to IMEX America because Las Vegas is close to “some of America’s most beautiful national parks,” she said. She thought helping clean up one of America’s parks would correlate with BCB’s sustainable program back home, called “The Green of Barcelona.”
“More than a third of Barcelona is made up of green spaces, so you can enjoy nature without leaving the city,” Dorian told Convene. “I wanted to incorporate this idea of nature into our CSR activity.”
Plans for the CSR initiative started early. Once BCB had decided to make a national park the focus of its CSR initiative, a staff member contacted representatives of Utah’s National Parks in January 2018. About four weeks after researching possible locations, the teams came up with the exact location, activity, and transportation to and from the park. Final details and preparations were made three weeks before IMEX America. Dorian said planning for the CSR activity went smoothly and without a hitch.
The Bryce Canyon National Park project was the first time many BCB members and partners conducted a CSR program as a team in the U.S. Participating BCB partners included a mix of destination management companies, transportation companies, and venues: A+ Solutions, another konzept, In Destination Management, Kuoni Destination Management, Pacific World, SHE Spanish Heritage, Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I, Hilton Diagonal Mar, Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, Melia Barcelona Sarria & Sky Hotels, Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona, PortAventura Park, and Blai Limousines.
The Barcelona Convention Bureau falls under the umbrella of the Turisme de Barcelona, a consortium created in 1993 by the Barcelona Municipal Council to promote Barcelona as a tourist destination. Turisme de Barcelona also has a program dedicated to sustainability that includes selective waste management, prioritization of bikes and pedestrians, the preservation of parks and beaches, and a commitment to Smart technologies.
The city was the first in the world to be awarded a Biosphere certification for its sustainability efforts. According to Biosphere Tourism’s website, Biosphere destinations “are committed to guaranteeing an adequate balance between their economic, socio-cultural, and environmental spheres.” The professionals who market Barcelona as a tourist and events destination demonstrated that they want to carry out that commitment in other places around the world — including 5,600 miles away, in Utah.
The Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) is the entity that grants the Biosphere certification to destinations that demonstrate sustainability. Not surprisingly, RTI hosts conferences to expand environmental awareness among destinations, including:
- Sustainable Tourism for the Development of Cities in the Framework of the New Urban Agenda
- Sustainability and Competitiveness in Tourist Destinations
- Sustainability: A Key Factor of Competitiveness in the Tourism Industry
- Sustainable Tourism in Inland Destinations