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California has long been a leader in sustainable practices, including sustainable meetings. With such an abundance of natural beauty, it's no surprise that the state's destination leaders prioritize environmental protection — and few places boast as much natural beauty as Monterey County.
From its sandy beaches and coastal habitats rich in sea life (not to mention its world-famous aquarium), to its rolling vineyards, there's no shortage of stunning landscapes here. Monterey is also a pioneer of sustainable meeting venues, responsibly sourced F&B and resources to help planners create eco-conscious gatherings.
To discuss these innovations in sustainability — as well as California's broader efforts in these areas — we spoke with Teresa Savage, vice president of business development at Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCCVB). Below are highlights of that conversation.
Why is sustainability critical for the meetings industry today?
Teresa Savage: The meetings industry is such an important sector of the tourism industry that is vital to the state's economic development. California is a global leader in the fight to combat the harmful effects of climate change, so it's no surprise that the state would be a leader in sustainable meetings. With the shifts that we continue to see here, and more people and companies embracing the need to be more conscious, sustainable initiatives are no longer just an added bonus — they are a requirement.
Monterey County has always been a leader in sustainability. We have seen our communities come together to collectively make positive impacts on the environment — from protecting and preserving the Big Sur coastline to innovating water conservation at the famed Pebble Beach golf courses.
It is with the same mindset that Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau approaches everything that we do to promote and assist the meetings industry in Monterey County, determining sustainable practices from the very early planning stages to the execution of the event in-destination.
What makes Monterey — and California more broadly — especially strong in their offerings for sustainable meetings?
See more about Monterey's stunning landscapes and tech-forward venues on this video
, featuring Monterey County CVB's Teresa Savage. Watch now!
TS: Monterey County is world-renowned for its scenic beauty and a natural landscape that boasts some of the most fertile soil and bounty-rich waters in the country. With a long-time legacy of sustainability in the destination, continuing to execute and innovate sustainable practices remains a top priority for businesses in Monterey County. Globally recognized programs such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch benefit not just the waters of Monterey Bay but oceans worldwide, helping consumers choose more sustainable dining options. One of Monterey County's largest wineries, Jackson Family Wines (makers of labels such as Kendall Jackson and La Crema) started a nonprofit focused on regenerative practices in growing.
As such, the region offers a wide variety of environmentally conscious venues, lodging and dining options, in-destination transportation alternatives, volunteer opportunities, and experiences that bring sustainability to the forefront at every stage of the meeting planning process.
California has so many outstanding natural assets and resources, and the state has long been a proponent of responsible travel, minimizing negative impacts and promoting environmental awareness. The health of our region and its unique natural environment is vital to its prosperity.
What are some examples of how Monterey and California have taken a leadership role in terms of sustainability initiatives for the meetings and events industries?
TS: MCCVB was one of the first destination marketing organizations in the country to launch a dedicated sustainability platform with the introduction of its Sustainable Moments program in 2015. As a long-time leader in sustainable travel, we strive to showcase the destination's forward-thinking attitude towards the preservation of our natural resources when promoting both leisure and business travel.
With our pristine coastlines and LEED-certified lodging properties and venues — including The Monterey Conference Center, one of the only LEED Platinum–certified conference centers in the U.S. — as well as sustainable dining options, reduced plastic use and much more, Monterey County is perfectly positioned to host meetings and events that make a positive impact on the environment.
One of the easiest ways to decrease the carbon footprint of an event is by choosing an eco-friendly venue, and meeting planners looking at Monterey County for their next event can rest assured that they will never have to forgo quality in order to protect the environment. Hotels and venues throughout Monterey County have been persistent in reducing their carbon footprint in innovative ways. The Monterey Conference Center's new LEED Platinum certification recognizes the facility's sustainability efforts impacting indoor air quality, energy, water usage and more. It is one of the only conference and convention facilities in North America to boast this highly coveted certification.
How can meeting planners work with your destination officials to assure a truly sustainable meeting?
TS: At MCCVB, we take personal responsibility to protect our destination's incredible natural assets and pristine landscape, recognizing the importance of sustainability and giving back to the community. This mindset extends to how we collaborate with meeting planners to plan an inspired meeting or event.
As sustainability continues to be a top consideration among meeting planners, MCCVB understands that promoting sustainable meetings means providing planners and attendees with the resources and information needed to make more sustainable choices. Our Sustainable Meetings Guide is a great resource for meeting planners, and our team is ready and eager to assist meeting planners in every way possible to ensure their event is truly sustainable from start to finish. From securing eco-friendly venues and accommodations to connecting meeting planners with local organizations that cover a wide range of team-building opportunities such as environmental beautification and community engagement, the options for green meetings in Monterey County are endless.