By: Jeff Crider, Woodall's Campground Magazine
California’s top campground industry official was the lead representative for the California Travel Association (CalTravel) during last month’s Tourism Cares conference in Lake Tahoe.
Dyana Kelley, president and CEO of CampCalNOW RV Park & Campground Alliance, networked with dozens of tourism industry officials from California and across the country at the May 18-20 conference, which took place in the ski resort town of Squaw Valley.
Conference speakers discussed a variety of topics, including diversity in the outdoors, the effects of climate change on tourism in the Tahoe area, and the need for the travel industry to work collaboratively to promote conservation of the Tahoe area’s natural resources and to develop sustainable approaches to tourism development that incorporate the best practices in destination stewardship.
“Since Tahoe is in my backyard, I was particularly interested in the projects Tahoe-area agencies and tourism businesses have regarding environmental issues as well as local tourism issues,” Kelley said, adding, “There were several entities involved and we discussed everything from invasive species (plants and clams and mussels) to over tourism issues such as garbage, traffic, impact on wildlife. It is obviously a difficult task, but a variety of tourism organizations have come together to support the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan as a way to create a path forward.”
Conference panelists included Andy Chapman, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau, Rhiana Jones, environmental director of the Washoe Tribe Environmental Protection Department, and Heather Segale, education and outreach director for UC Davis’s Tahoe Science Center in Incline Village and the Eriksson Education Center in Tahoe City.
Kelley said she was particularly impressed by a presentation by Sherry McConkey, who started the Shane McConkey Foundation in honor of her late husband. “They are doing great projects with kids that I might be able to integrate into our campgrounds,” Kelley said.
One project, she said, involves having children collect and turn in bottle caps for recycling. “Campgrounds could engage kids to pick up and collect bottle caps of any kind. Maybe the parks could have one-gallon buckets that they hang on a sign post and enlist children to help pick up bottle caps, perhaps in exchange for a popsicle. When the park collects 100 pounds of caps, they could have a bench or picnic table made with the park’s logo that thanks the kids for helping keep the Earth clean.”
While the details of such a program have yet to be worked out, Kelley said CampCalNow’s program could be coordinated with McConkey’s project in Lake Tahoe.
In addition to providing educational seminars, the Tourism Cares conference provided opportunities for attendees to participate in environmental cleanup efforts in the North Lake Tahoe area. Kelley joined about a dozen attendees who worked on a half-day trail maintenance project.
Tourism Cares is a nearly two-decade-old, Norwood, Mass.-based nonprofit organization that is focused on uniting the travel industry and mobilizing it to create needed change in the U.S. and around the world. Tourism Cares has furthered not only sustainability goals, but direct economic benefits for communities around the world.
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