USDA Rural Development Offers Small Business Scholarships in Support of Sustainable Tourism and Job Creation in the Greater Yellowstone Region
The Yellowstone Business Partnership and Sustainable Travel International will co-host 15-30 tourism and sustainability professionals November 27 – December 2, 2012, at Grand Targhee Resort for a hands-on educational experience designed to advance best practices in sustainable tourism. The course is designed for tourism and hospitality professionals, sustainability consultants, professional and aspiring auditors, and environmental planners and managers.
The Assessor and Consultant Training will provide participants with in-depth information about the SustainableTourismEducationProgram (STEP) program and its globally lauded eco-certification standard, including best practices and case studies that demonstrate the return on investment associated with sustainable operations. This professional course includes three days of technical training followed by a three-day hands-on site assessment. By the end of the course, attendees will be fluent in the navigation and implementation of the entire STEP program.
Participants who successfully complete the course will become STEP-Accredited Assessors, affording them the opportunity to provide consulting services or certify travel and tourism businesses in the Greater Yellowstone region and beyond. The addition of new STEP-Accredited Assessors in the region will increase local capacity for sustainable tourism development and reduce third-party certification costs for businesses, reducing significantly the travel-related expenses typically associated with these audits.
The Yellowstone Business Partnership is convening the STEP Assessor and Consultant Training thanks to a generous grant from USDA Rural Development – Montana office. The training is open to anyone, no matter where they are located. Tuition scholarships in the amount of $1,600 are available as a result of this grant. To qualify for scholarship consideration, small businesses registering for the training must operate in a community of less than 50,000 residents and have gross annual revenues of less than $1 million.
Sustainable Travel International’s flagship program - STEP - is among the first global standards to be recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). The program complements the Yellowstone Business Partnership’s UnCommonSense program, a 2-year leadership program focused on helping businesses become more sustainable in all aspects of their operations. Graduates of this program are immediately eligible for STEP eco-certification.
"We are excited to partner with Sustainable Travel International in bringing the STEP program to the Northern Rockies region,” said Heather Higinbotham, YBP’s Sustainability Programs Manager. ”STEP aligns well with our UnCommon Sense program and provides a great opportunity to build capacity for assessors and consultants, as well as offering a credible third party verification for tourism businesses in the region to validate their sustainability efforts.”
As the host property, Grand Targhee Resort has enrolled in the STEP program, and will work toward its own eco-certification during an on-site assessment conducted by course participants.
“We are pleased that Sustainable Travel International and YBP have picked Grand Targhee Resort as the destination for this STEP Assessor and Consultant Training Program,” shared Ken Rider, Director Marketing & Sales at Grand Targhee. “We are excited to begin working on our eco-certification with this group.”
Interested participants can enroll by clicking this online link to the application: https://jdybp.wufoo.com/forms/sustainable-tourism-education-program-step/
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