College Profile Topics



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Sustainable Tourism and Event Planning

Cal Poly's Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration (RPTA) Department offers students the opportunity to learn from and work with faculty who are helping define the standards for sustainable tourism and event planning. Cal Poly is one of only seven universities nationwide offering the University Consortium Certificate (UCC) in Sustainable Tourism through its membership in The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). The UCC Program at Cal Poly is one component of a growing emphasis on sustainable business practices within the RPTA Department. Sustainable practices are highlighted in key courses such as Sustainable Tourism (RPTA 313), Sustainable Travel and Tourism Planning (RPTA 314), Event Management (RPTA 420), Advanced Concepts in Sustainable Events (RPTA 470), and Adventure Programming and Planning (RPTA 415). In addition, sustainability concepts have been integrated into all RPTA courses within the Tourism Planning and Management concentration and the Event Planning and Management concentration.

RPTA undergraduate and graduate students are actively involved in advancing sustainable practices in tourism and event planning. Students in the Sustainable Tourism class completed the planning of a 'Highway 1 Loop Tour Project" which highlights multiple modes of transportation within San Luis Obispo County and are now working on an agri-tourism marketing plan for SLO CIty Farm. Student projects also include the inventorying of resources for and development of a self-guided tour of Cal Poly's agricultural lands, and the event planning for national industry conferences.

As part of an ongoing project in partnership with the California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC), a team of RPTA faculty and students has developed the 'Sustainable Tourism Marketing Handbook' which documents the implementation and marketing of sustainable practices among tourism organizations and businesses in California. The handbook aims to provide examples to help other California businesses implement their own sustainable tourism strategies.

General: The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world. However, the most popular travel destinations are also often the most culturally and environmentally sensitive. As tourists become increasingly aware of the impacts of travel, sustainable tourism has become a rapidly expanding sector of the industry. Sustainable tourist businesses may utilize any of a number of practices such as the use of renewable energy, water conservation, waste management systems, energy-efficient buildings, and local, organic, and fair-trade foods and products. Eco- and agri-tourism options are an increasingly sought-after niche of the tourism industry.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) aim to define the goals and standards for best practices within the sustainable tourism industry. Developed by a coalition of 27 organizations including the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the GSTC has become a foundation for certification programs such as the STEPTM Certification through Sustainable Travel International which allows businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices to their consumers.


Cal Poly & Region
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration
California Sustainable Tourism Marketing Handbook
Central Coast Tourism Council

Sustainable Tourism
The International Ecotourism Society
Global Sustainable Tourism Council
United Nations World Tourism Organization
Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Meeting & Event Planning
Green Meeting Industry Council
Sustainable Event Alliance

Visit San Luis Obispo Wine Country
San Luis Obispo Agriculture / Eco Tours

Central Coast Agtourism Council
California Agricultural Tourism Directory

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