Rethinking Tourism to Support Sustainability
Tourism plays a vital role in supporting Ottawa Valley’s economy.
In Ottawa and the surrounding region, 11 million tourists contribute over $3 billion of direct economic output per year.
For example, 600,000 people collectively make approximately 2.6 million annual visits to Gatineau Park, generating some $241 million dollars in economic activity while supporting over 4,000 full-time jobs in the region, according to the National Capital Commission.
However, tourism also exacerbates climate change, which in turn negatively affects tourist destinations.
Impacts include reducing the amount of months visitors are willing to travel due to weather changes, greenhouse gas emissions, and altering wilderness people travel to experience.
How can we safeguard the environment to support climate action while ensuring tourism can spur local economic opportunities?
Protecting the Greenbelt for environmental and economic opportunities in the Ottawa Valley
The National Capital Greenbelt is 20,000 hectares of green space, including internationally-recognized forests and wetlands. The region attracts over 3 million visitors per year with its iconic landscapes.
The Greenbelt is home to Mer Bleue, a 7,700-year-old bog (the second largest in southern Ontario!). Mer Bleue not only provides habitat for regionally rare plants and birds, but also supports wildlife you primarily find within northern boreal bogs.
Plus, the Greenbelt is a hub for climate change research.
Scientists have proven we need to conserve 50% of our wilderness to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss.
In 2006, Carleton, Concordia, and McGill Universities amongst others created the Mer Bleue Research Station. Since then, over 120 papers have been published detailing how this bog is critical to climate action.
However, the City of Ottawa doesn’t see the Greenbelt as “valuable enough” – to our citizens, our wildlife, or our economy.
Roads and fragmentation, like the proposed Brian Coburn / Cumberland Transitway Extension, threaten the Greenbelt’s ecological integrity and the over 60 species at risk living within its borders.
Together, we can safeguard the Greenbelt to remain an iconic destination spot for domestic and international visitors alike while supporting climate action and economic opportunities in the Ottawa Valley. Learn how.