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Transat supports four sustainable tourism projects in Canada and Cuba - “Communities everywhere are taking protection and enhancement of their heritage and environment into their own hands,” says Jean-Marc Eustache, Pr

  • Transat joins forces with World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) to lay the groundwork for a sustainable tourism policy in Cuba;
  • Transat joins forces with the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve in Ontario, for a project that aims to educate the entire region on the importance of obtaining green accreditation;
  • Transat joins forces with the Seigneurie des Aulnaies of Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, Quebec, which has been enhancing a unique heritage site for almost 40 years;
  • Transat joins forces with Les amis du Marais of Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Quebec, who are continuing their efforts to protect kilometres of land along the banks of the St. Lawrence River;
  • The four projects represent a total investment of $150,000 as part of a new program to support sustainable tourism projects launched by Transat in February 2007.

Montreal, November 14, 2007 – Transat A.T. Inc., one of the world’s largest integrated tourism companies and Canada’s holiday travel leader, is supporting four sustainable tourism projects, including one launched by World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) to improve protection of ecosystems in Cuba by promoting the adoption of a sustainable tourism policy.

“We are proud to be associated with WWF-Canada’s conservation initiative in Cuba, which is one of our main sun destinations,” said Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat A.T. Inc. “The Greening Cuban Tourism program is perfectly in keeping with the objectives of our program to support sustainable tourism projects that aim to protect and enhance natural and cultural heritage, to help communities benefit economically from tourism, or to soften the impact that tourism has on the environment in both our departure and destination countries.”

For his part, Michael Bliemsrieder, Regional Director for the Greater Antilles, WWF-Canada, said: “WWF-Canada has been operating in Cuba for 20 years and is involved in protecting the country’s ecosystems, which are among the richest in the Wider Caribbean. In the past 15 years Cuba has implemented major steps to ensure the conservation of its environment and the sustainability of its resources. We are supporting the Cuban government’s review of the country’s current policies in order to establish a sustainable tourism policy that would help better manage the development of tourism. Because Transat has been a major tour operator in Cuba for many years, this project will enable us to pool our resources to the benefit of environmental conservation and enhancement.”

Transat is also supporting an important green-accreditation project by the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, which is located in the Thousand Islands region of Ontario. The reserve’s objective is to encourage businesses and organizations working in various tourism-related industries – marinas, golf courses, accommodation, etc. – to obtain green accreditation. Like ISO standards, green accreditation is granted by an independent organization, valid for a specific period, to organizations that voluntarily adopt an approach aimed at reducing their environmental footprint. This project is part of an extensive three-year sustainable tourism program that promotes the development of a national sustainable tourism model for biosphere reserves.

Transat has also selected two other projects to support along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. The company is supporting the Seigneurie des Aulnaies, an interpretation centre on the seigniorial system located in Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies and a first-class tourism site in the Côte-du-Sud region. The funds will be used to implement the centre’s five-year plan to strengthen its mission to protect and enhance the architectural and cultural heritage of the seigniory, which includes a classified manor and mill. Lastly, Transat is also supporting a project undertaken by the Les Amis du marais de Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly corporation, which is involved in enhancing the recreational-tourism benefits of the marsh and 10-kilometre hiking trail along the river in Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, a village considered to be one of the most picturesque in Quebec.

“We would like to congratulate these four organizations which, through their commitment and dynamism, have for many years successfully protected and enhanced the natural and cultural heritage that today symbolize the wealth and pride of these communities. Their efforts have already yielded results and we hope our support will enable them to go further,” Mr. Eustache concluded.

The four projects were selected from more than 100 applications submitted as part of a program that Transat launched in spring 2007 to support sustainable tourism projects. In this first year of the program, each project will receive between $7,500 and $50,000, with the latter being the maximum amount granted to any one project under this program.

Sustainable Tourism Projects Funded by Transat in 2007

Greening Cuban Tourism, WWF-Canada, Toronto, Ontario and Cuba

Greening Cuban Tourism is a three-year program whose goal is to pave the way for the adoption of a national sustainable tourism policy in Cuba. During the first phase, the World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada), in conjunction with the government of Cuba, will develop and validate sustainable tourism performance indicators as part of pilot projects to be carried out in at least two of the following four locations: Varadero beach, Cienaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve, Viñales Valley and Las Terrazas at Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. WWF-Canada is working closely with the Cuban non-governmental organization Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation of Man and Nature to set up workshops and local consultations. The final phase of the project consists of educating Canada’s tourism industry and travellers about the principles of sustainable tourism in Cuba. Transat will contribute $50,000 to the project.

Green Accreditation project, Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, Lansdowne, Ontario

Frontenac Arch, which gained UNESCO recognition as a biosphere reserve in 2002, encompasses more than 7,000 km2 in the Thousand Islands region midway between Montreal and Toronto. Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve’s Green Accreditation project consists of conducting a series of workshops for regional stakeholders in various industries (marinas, golf courses, accommodation, tourism promotion organizations, etc.) to initiate them to and encourage them to obtain green accreditation. The project also includes a recognition program for companies that have been accredited. Transat is the initiative’s only financial partner and is contributing $40,000. The project is part of an extensive three-year sustainable tourism program aimed at creating a national sustainable tourism model for biosphere reserves.

Launched in 1974 to improve relations between human beings and their environment globally, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program targets the use of ecological, social and economic means to reduce biodiversity loss.

La Seigneurie des Aulnaies, Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, Quebec

Created in 1969 to protect and enhance the heritage site of the Seigneurie des Aulnaies, which is located in the tourism area of Côte-du-Sud, east of Quebec City, the Corporation touristique de la Seigneurie des Aulnaies is implementing a five-year development plan that will enable Quebec’s most complete interpretation centre on seigniorial system of New France to remain a first-rate tourist and cultural attraction and a regional leader in sustainable tourism. The $50,000 contribution from Transat will be used partly to fund the preservation and restoration of classified buildings, which include a manor and a mill, the construction of an ecological welcoming centre, and the enhancement of the site’s activities and permanent exhibition.

Enhancement of the recreational and tourism potential of the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Quebec

The mission of the Corporation Les Amis du marais de Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, created in 1997, is to protect and enhance the banks of the St. Lawrence River at Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly in the Chaudière-Appalaches tourism region just west of Quebec City. The organization has taken measures to improve public access to the river, to establish sites from which enthusiasts can observe marsh fauna and flora, and to promote the environmental, heritage and socioeconomic values of the river bank. The project presented to Transat consists of enhancing the recreational-tourism potential of the marsh area and an approximately ten-kilometre-long hiking trail, while promoting sustainable development. The organization has been granted $7,500 to develop several initiatives, including a website.

About Transat
Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. A holiday travel specialist, Transat operates mainly in Canada and Europe, as well as in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean Basin. Montreal-based Transat is also active in air transportation, destination services and distribution. (TSX: TRZ.B, TRZ.A).

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