Destination Québec cité: making Québec City a more sustainable travel destination

February 29, 2024

Sustainability is at the very core of everything the tourism industry does, and efforts are being deployed at all levels of the supply chain. Many travel destinations are taking on ambitious initiatives to accelerate a shift towards a more sustainable future. Québec City is no exception, and Destination Québec cité (DQc) is keen to help! The organization has recently launched an innovative program aimed at helping local businesses operating as part of the tourism industry to achieve their Biosphere certification. Here’s why the first cohort’s 27 participants have volunteered to take on this challenge.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What is the Biosphere certification?
  • Destination Québec cité innovative certification program

What is the Biosphere certification?

It’s no secret that when it comes to sustainability, it can be hard to know what’s what. The topic covers a wide range of issues, from protecting the planet to economic development, human rights and fostering inclusion. Talk about a tall order. Fortunately, Biosphere covers all of these!

The internationally recognized sustainability certification is designed for the tourism industry and is aligned with the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We wanted to provide a tool that’s reliable, easy-to-use, and recognized on a global scale,” says Benjamin Lavallée, Tourism Development Advisor at Destination Québec cité. “The certification covers 24 activity sectors within the tourism industry, so it’s quite wide-reaching and targeted to each member's needs, whether they are a hotel, a chain of restaurant or tour operator,” he adds.

Destination Québec cité’s: blazing the trail for a sustainable future

Volunteer organizations taking on the certification process are given tools and support to audit their own performance through an online web portal designed by Biosphere. After this, their strengths and areas for improvements are presented in a graph on the platform, which enables the creation of a real-time action plan that helps them determine priorities. “And we’re here to hold their hand throughout the entire process, along with a French-speaking consultancy called Ellio, which accompanies businesses for about six months,” adds Benjamin.

Destination Québec cité’s mission is to support the region’s tourism industry, and sustainable tourism is a key component of this growth strategy. The organization has an ambitious goal: to help 100 businesses become Biosphere certified by 2026. To do so, DQc is deploying huge efforts to make the certification process as easy and accessible as it can be for its members. In addition to offering financial, operational and marketing support, DQc has taken on the translation from English to French of all tools and resources used within the certification process. Which is no small feat!

“We wanted to ensure anyone hoping to get certified could do so in their native tongue. Of course, our focus was on helping businesses in the region, but hopefully this can be useful to other French-speaking regions as they strive to become more sustainable,” proudly states Benjamin. This step required a huge amount of work, but the results speak for themselves: over 27 businesses volunteered to be part of the first Biosphere certification cohort. Launched in November 2023, this first stage of the project is already bearing fruit. Several local businesses have now achieved their certification goals, including Port de Québec, the first port to reach this milestone in America.

So now that the first cohort is graduating and shifting to a continuous improvement phase, does this mean the people at Destination Québec cité can take a well-earned break? “No way! We’re busy implementing the feedback we gathered during the first stage of the program, so we can better tailor the support we offer for the next groups of participants,” states Benjamin. “The second cohort is launching April 23rd, and we’ve got plenty to do to make sure we help them reach their sustainability goals.”

To learn more about Destination Québec cité’s support program, visit this page.

Or find out more about shore power and hydroelectricity, a big focus of Port of Québec’s sustainability plans over the coming years.

Find out more about the Cruise the Saint Lawrence sustainable development guidelines on our sustainability page.