Two youth flying a kite on the beach

Balancing protection and tourism on rural islands: RIEP Connection Café

CKTZ News, through an LJI grant from

Rural Islands Economic Partnership (RIEP) hosted a virtual meeting focused on island tourism on March 29, as part of their monthly Connection Café series. RIEP is a membership-led organization dedicated to providing programs and services in support of 19 rural islands, including Cortes Island.

The online event featured a panel of tourism representatives, including Cortes Island’s own Kai Harvey, owner and operator of Cortes Kayaks. Harvey expanded on the idea around “Regenerative Tourism,” or, the kind of tourism that leaves a positive impact on communities.

Island representatives brainstormed about solutions to challenges almost all islands face, including staff housing shortage, along with the need to push tourism further into shoulder seasons to help local businesses. Innovations in ethical marine mammal advertising, promoting mindful travel, and “edu-travel,” or using knowledge as a product, were also explored.

The online event included a “Sustainable Travel Showcase” presentation by representatives from The Whale Trail, a resource for watching sea animals from shore.

REIP Chair Francine Carlin expanded on the value of these regular connection cafés and the path toward regenerative tourism for rural islands.