As defined by the UN World Tourism Organization and the UN Environment Program, sustainable tourism “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights provides the key principles that guide environmental values for tourism in Ontario. Learn more about actions that affect the environment on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
Sustainable Tourism in Ontario
The goal of sustainable tourism in Ontario is to support Indigenous cultures and preserve our amazing natural places for visitors to experience and learn from today, and for generations to come.
GoodTraveller.net lists businesses that have taken steps to incorporate sustainable practices. Here are more inspiring examples of sustainable and regenerative tourism practices and ways you can travel greener.
Overlooking a private lake on the edge of Algonquin Provincial Park, this off-grid property is the perfect spot for a digital detox with wilderness adventure at your doorstep. A previous winner of the Ontario Tourism Sustainable Tourism Award, the property harnesses micro-hydro electricity from a waterfall and operates a wood-fired sauna.
Location: 3594 Elephant Lake Road, Harcourt
Awarded a gold certification from GreenStep Sustainable Tourism, regenerative practices have been implemented in their land and water management, energy sources, food service and community partnerships. The family-run Rice Lake resort has also committed to the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge with action to increase efficiency in water and energy consumption and a reduction of waste. Read more on sustainability initiatives at Elmhirst’s Resort.
Location: 1045 Settlers Line, Keene
From the living, hydroponic ‘green wall’ in the lobby to energy-saving lightbulbs and showerheads and biodegradable liquids, soaps and cleaners, sustainability elements are integrated into all levels of design, operation and services at this downtown hotel. The Chelsea Hotel is certified by Earth Check, the world’s leading eco-scientific benchmarking and advisory system in tourism and by Green Key Global, a leader in hotel sustainability.
Location: 33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto
Find more Green Key Global certified accommodations throughout Ontario.
Food & Drink
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a globally recognized rating system and certification symbol for sustainability and environmental considerations in building design. A pioneer in eco-forward thinking, this Niagara region winery was the first LEED-certified facility in Canada. Stratus takes an organic and biodynamic approach to its winemaking using natural methods that require less water and energy and no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizer or genetic modification. They have also achieved certification from Demeter Canada for biodynamic production and ECOCERT Canada for environmental and culturally-conscious practices.
Nestled in the Ottawa countryside, Beau’s environmentally friendly, organic practices and commitment to the local community landed them as Canada’s first certified B-Corp brewery. B-Corp is a global movement working towards transforming economies to focus on people and the planet, not just profit. Other B-Corp breweries in Ontario include Bench Brewing and High Park Brewing.
Location: 10 Terry Fox Drive, Vankleek Hill
Another certified B-Corp Ontario business, Ernest Cider is the first pollution-free, Bullfrog-powered cidery in Canada. In addition to using renewable energy the cidery sources local Ontario fruit and honey.
Location: 4292 3rd Line, Bradford West Gwillimbury
This downtown Asian Fusion restaurant and cocktail bar has been recognized by Sustainable Kingston for its vision of becoming a zero-waste operation. Dedicated to creating a more sustainable food culture, Miss Bao rethinks the ways food and drink are sourced, prepared, served and reused. Organic material is composted on-site and reused to grow microgreens with an in-house garden system. Other Ontario eateries rising to the challenge of reducing waste include Bistro 67, part of Durham College in Whitby and The Nook Café in Hamilton. Unboxed Market in Toronto and Ottawa’s NU Grocery are leading the charge as the first waste-free groceries in their respective cities.
Location: 286 Princess Street, Kingston
This certification program recognizes and showcases over 150 farm-to-fork restaurants and food experiences that source locally from Ontario’s farmers, growers and makers. Celebrate sustainable food tourism and enjoy good food that you can feel good about by visiting a Feast On® restaurant near you.
Tours & Experiences
Preserving Indigenous culture, knowledge and practices is a key element in sustainable tourism. Dedicated to the growth of Indigenous tourism in the province, ITO showcases high-quality, authentic experiences that are developed and delivered by Indigenous people and communities on IndigenousExperienceOntario.ca.
Enjoy fun and educational guided tours and overnight multi-day adventures that go hiking, biking, canoeing, snowshoeing and skiing across breathtaking and dramatic landscapes on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula. Proceeds support the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, dedicated to the conservation and sustainable development of the biosphere.
Location: Bruce Peninsula
Ontario Parks is a government body responsible for the preservation and maintenance of over 330 natural and culturally significant parks across the province. In addition to delivering facilities, activities and programs that encourage visitors to connect with nature, Ontario Parks strives to protect and restore the ecological integrity and biodiversity of its parks. Learn more about Ontario’s vast provincial parks, national parks and conservation areas and how to enjoy Ontario’s Parks responsibly.
A Blue Flag status at a beach or marina is an eco-certification acknowledging it meets internationally recognized standards for water quality, safety, accessibility and ecological protection. Currently there are over 25 Blue Flag destinations in Ontario, including Wasaga Beach, Grand Bend Beach, Centre Island Beach on Toronto Islands and Bell Park Beach in Sudbury. Visitors to a Blue Flag beach can rest assured the utmost care is taken to create a clean, safe and accessible experience.
Services & Programs
To encourage travellers to reduce their carbon footprint, the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association has installed 50 Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at local accommodations, including hotels, motels and campgrounds for visitors travelling in electric vehicles.
If you’re looking for a ‘greener’ and more efficient mode of travel in Ontario, consider taking the train. VIA Rail offers routes across the province and beyond with service to over 400 communities in Canada. Sustainable mobility is a priority issue with transformational projects that include a new environmentally-friendly fleet.
Drawing on Indigenous teachings, the O’de Piitaanemaan Pledge is beautiful sustainable tourism promise in which visitors and residents commit to value and respect the land, the water and local communities with a happy and grateful heart while exploring Peterborough & the Kawarthas.
Add these travel services and experiences to your next Ontario travel plan and make your footprint a little lighter as you explore this beautiful province.
Last updated: June 15, 2022