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Transat supports four sustainable-tourism projects in Canada, France and Tunisia

Montreal, November 6, 2008

“Communities all over the world are realizing that aspects of their natural and cultural heritage are a first-class tourism asset.” – Lina De Cesare, President, Tour Operators, Transat 
 
Transat offers its support to:

  • Ontario Nature, a Canadian conservation group, to restore and enhance nature reserves, protecting natural habitats while promoting sustainable tourism;
  • The sustainable-tourism co-op L’Échappée bleue, to build a network of four green lodges along the shore of Lac-Saint-Jean in Quebec, Canada;
  • The France-based group De Navigatio, for an extensive campaign in ports in the region of Brittany to raise awareness of eco-aware boating; and
  • The Association de développement durable, in Tunisia, which plans to enhance tourism infrastructures in the Médenine region, near Djerba. les infrastructures touristiques dans la région de Médenine, non loin de Djerba.

Transat A.T. Inc., one of the world’s largest integrated tourism companies and Canada’s holiday travel leader, is pleased to announce it will support four sustainable-tourism projects in three countries. A total of nearly $180,000 will be invested in the four projects through Transat’s program to support communities.
 
“We are proud to contribute to these four initiatives by local communities in countries that welcome travellers. Once again this year, we see that communities everywhere are developing sustainable-tourism projects that deserve support and encouragement,” said Lina De Cesare, President, Tour Operators, Transat.

Sustainable tourism entails respect for nature as well as for host communities and their values, and combines positive socio-economic benefits for local populations with an enriching experience for travellers.
 
In Canada, Transat is partnering with Ontario Nature in support of its “Discover Ontario's Natural Heritage” project to protect and restore 21 unique nature reserves across the province of Ontario. The “Discover Ontario's Natural Heritage” project combines the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats with the promotion of sustainable tourism. The project includes the creation of marked trails, maps, boardwalks and interpretation panels that facilitate public access to Ontario Nature’s reserves while ensuring minimal impact on the environment. Ontario Nature works to protect and restore natural habitats, and connect people with nature, through research, conservation campaigns, education and public awareness.

Transat is supporting a regional initiative of L’Échappée bleue, a sustainable-tourism co-op, to build a network of green lodges along the Véloroute des Bleuets bike path in the region of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, Canada. The first lodge is currently being built in Saint-Prime, on the shore of the lake. It will have a capacity of up to 40 visitors during the tourist season, will act as a showcase for alternative energy sources (solar, thermal and wind power), and will feature a restaurant serving local cuisine. The co-op has adopted all of the principles of sustainable tourism and promotes environmental stewardship as well as the products and talents of the local region.
 
Transat has joined the network of partners supporting the Association De Navigatio, in France, which is organizing “Cap EcoNav 2009,” a major operation to raise awareness of green navigation, the importance of having port infrastructures that are respectful of the marine environment, and ocean conservation. Activities are scheduled from May to September 2009 in six to eight major ports on the Atlantic coast, specifically in the French region of Brittany, and will include exhibitions and conferences as well as meetings with local elected officials, tourism stakeholders, sailing enthusiasts and the media. Fleur de Lampaul, the flagship of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, will be part of the activities in each port. More than eight million people, including tourists and locals, are sailors or take part in boating activities in France.
 
The Association pour le développement durable (ADD), which works in the region of Médenine, Tunisia, has initiated the project “Innovation rurale en zone difficile” (IRZOD, or “sensitive-zone rural innovation”), an integrated, sustainable local development program focused on heritage and rural tourism in the territory of the Béni Khedache delegation. The project, supported by Transat, involves construction of traditional rural lodges for tourist accommodations, creation of hiking trails highlighting architectural, cultural and botanical heritage, assistance to local craftspersons in setting up a workshop, and restoration of a heritage site featuring fortified community granaries, called ksour, which are more than three centuries old. Médenine is a city in the southern part of Tunisia, not far from the island of Djerba, one of the country’s top tourism destinations.
 
“We congratulate all these organizations, which care about preserving and presenting natural and cultural heritage and helping local communities reap the economic benefits of tourism,” Ms. De Cesare concluded. “We know that our partners are deeply committed to their respective missions, and we wish them all the success they deserve.”

Transat issues a yearly call for sustainable-tourism projects from non-profit organizations in its eight origin countries and more than 60 destination countries. This year, the financial assistance granted to each project varies between $30,000 and $50,000; the latter sum is the maximum amount that can be awarded for a project under the program.
 
These projects follow the four already supported by Transat in Canada and Cuba as part of its sustainable-tourism program. They are: the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve’s green accreditation program in Ontario; the Seigneurie des Aulnaies development plan in Quebec, which includes restoration of historic buildings and construction of a green welcome centre; the shoreline and wetlands protection and presentation project undertaken by the Amis du marais de Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly corporation, in Quebec; and WWF-Canada’s Greening Cuban Tourism government management program in Cuba (more information at www.transat.com).


Sustainable tourism projects supported by Transat in 2008

Protection and conservation of nature reserves in Ontario, Canada
Transat has partnered with Ontario Nature, a Canadian provincial conservation group, in support of its “Discover Ontario's Natural Heritage” project to protect and restore its 21 nature reserves in Ontario. The project combines the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats with the promotion of sustainable tourism. The project will include the creation of marked trails, maps and interpretation panels that will facilitate visitor access to fragile ecosystems, while ensuring minimum impact, in the Cawthra Mulock (King Township), Greg and Nora Willoughby (Caledon Township) and Petrel Point (Red Bay Township) reserves, among others. Four new nature reserve management plans will be implemented as part of the project. Founded in 1931, Ontario Nature works to protect and restore natural habitats, and connect people with nature, through research, conservation campaigns, education and public awareness. Ontario Nature represents more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups across Ontario. The $30,000 in funding from Transat will be used for development and implementation of the project. Transat is the only private partner in this province-wide initiative.
 
Network of green lodges in Lac Saint-Jean, Québec, Canada
The sustainable tourism co-op L’Échappée bleue has embarked on an ambitious plan to implement a network of four green lodges along the Véloroute des Bleuets bike path in the region of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, Canada. The first lodge is currently being built in Saint-Prime, on the shore of the lake, and is scheduled to open for the spring 2009 tourist season. It includes around 10 rooms with a capacity of 40 visitors, will act as a showcase for alternative energy sources (solar, thermal and wind power), and will feature a restaurant serving local cuisine. The other lodges will be built in the municipalities of Dolbeau-Mistassini, Métabetchouan and Normandin, which are also on the shores of Lac-Saint-Jean and the Ashuapmushan River. Founded in 2006, the solidarity co-op has adopted all of the principles of sustainable tourism and promotes environmental stewardship as well as the products and talents of the local tourism region. L’Échappée bleue receives both private- and public-sector financial support, in the form of grants, loans and donations—to which must be added the social capital provided by its 600 members. It has a staff of four paid employees. Transat is granting $50,000 to the co-op to build the lodges, as part of its sustainable-tourism philanthropy program.

Sustainable development of boating activities in France
An initiative of the France-based organization De Navigatio, the “Cap EcoNav” program is a major operation to raise awareness of green navigation practices, implementation of port infrastructures that are respectful of the marine environment, and ocean conservation. Activities are scheduled from May to September 2009 in six to eight major ports in the Region of Brittany, and will include exhibitions and conferences as well as meetings with local elected officials, tourism stakeholders, sailing enthusiasts and the media. Fleur de Lampaul, the flagship of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, will be part of the activities in each port. Transat has provided the sum of 30,000 euros to support implementation of the program in 2009, including for its communications and awareness-raising components. The association is supported by a network of partners, including the Region of Brittany, the General Council of Finistère, the City of Douarnenez, the Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’Énergie de France (ADEME, Brittany section), the Agence des aires marines protégées and the Nicolas Hulot Foundation. The program will be extended through 2012 in all of France’s coastal regions. The mission of De Navigatio, created in 2002 by an enthusiastic team following the successful completion of an “archeonavigation” project, is to contribute to development of a sustainable relationship between humans and the sea.

Heritage tourism project in Tunisia
The Association pour le développement durable (ADD) has initiated the project “Innovation rurale en zone difficile” (IRZOD, or “sensitive-zone rural innovation”), an integrated, sustainable local development program focused on heritage and rural tourism in the territory of the Béni Khedache delegation, in the Médenine Governorate of Tunisia. The project, supported by Transat, involves construction of traditional rural lodges for tourist accommodations, creation of hiking trails highlighting architectural, cultural and botanical heritage, assistance to local craftspeople in setting up a workshop, and restoration of a heritage site featuring fortified community granaries, called ksour (the plural of ksar), which are more than three centuries old. The selected historic site is Ksar Jouamaâ. Created in 2000 and supported by such entities as the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Regional Council of Médenine in Tunisia, the General Council of L’Hérault in France, and several researchers and NGOs in France, Italy and Morocco, the ADD conducts sustainable development activities in the areas of local resource development and agricultural biodiversity reservation. The project will be conducted between January 2009 and March 2011. Transat is contributing 35,000 euros. The city of Médenine is located in southwestern Tunisia, in the middle of the Djeffara Plain, 100 kilometres southwest of the island of Djerba (“island of dreams”), a very well known, first-class tourism destination that welcomes 6.7 million visitors annually and was selected by TripAdvisor as a top holiday destination for 2008.

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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