We’re the top sustainable tourism business in Canada—for the third time!!!

Eagle Wing Tours has won the 2022 Air Transat Sustainable Tourism Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). The award goes to an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the practice and promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism in Canada.

Sustainability stickers are seen on the side of one of our vessels

Making a difference

A passion for the ocean and a drive to spark community action through ecotourism and outreach lie at the heart of our company, which can best be described as a conservation organization that happens to run whale watching tours.

The TIAC award—our third major award in 2022—is further validation that we’re on the right track and making a positive difference!

“We thank TIAC for its continuing recognition of our efforts to build a more sustainable world,” say Eagle Wing co-owners Brett Soberg and Don Stewart. “We don’t do this in isolation. We thank our many community partners for their vision and commitment, and all of our guests for their support over the years!”

Eagle Wing general manager Nathan Bird holds the TIAC sustainability award. He is flanked by two representatives of GreenStep Solutions
Eagle Wing Tours general manager Nathan Bird, centre, with the TIAC award and two representatives of GreenStep Solutions

A history of sustainability “firsts”

The TIAC award honours success, leadership and innovation in Canada’s tourism industry. And that’s what we do at Eagle Wing—we lead by example. We were the first in the industry to join 1% for the Planet, the first to be certified Platinum with GreenStep Sustainable Tourism, the first to take the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge, and the first to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We’re Canada’s first third-party certified 100% carbon neutral whale watching company. And we were the first to implement a per-guest wildlife fee to support conservation, sustainability, research and education activities. Funding from these initiatives flows directly to conservation organizations working to restore and protect the Salish Sea and beyond.

How are we doing so far? By the end of 2022, we will have donated more than $1 million in total since 2011!

The Toba River snakes through the pristine forest of the Toba Valley, BC
Toba Valley, BC / Photo by Sami Fayed, Wilderness International

Beyond carbon neutral

In 2022, we took “carbon neutral” one step further by offsetting and thereby erasing the company’s carbon footprint since acquisition by the current owners in 2005.  We continue to work closely with Wilderness International, a non-profit foundation dedicated to protecting wilderness areas for future generations.

Since 2019, our offsets and donations to Wilderness International have protected more than 80,000 square metres of old-growth forest in the Toba Valley, BC!

Eagle Wing crew member holds up a balloon just retrieved from the water. Picking up marine garbage and educating guests about it is part of our sustainability role.
We routinely pick up discarded balloons as part of our sentinel role on the water / Eagle Wing Tours photo

We tread lightly

We take a proactive view to mitigating the impacts of vessel activity around whales. As a certified member of the World Cetacean Alliance and a long-time member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, Eagle Wing practices and promotes the highest standards of responsible wildlife viewing.

We’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce our footprint. Science-based knowledge is the first step. In 2017, we were the first marine ecotourism company in the region to voluntarily have our vessels tested for noise emission levels. We’re repeating these tests in 2022. We continue to engage with marine technology businesses to develop more sustainable fuel options and use emerging technologies that could be applied industry-wide.

In our business operations, we measure, reduce and offset wherever we can. What does award-winning sustainability look like in our daily operations? Learn more!

Eagle Wing co-owner Brett shows a piece of whale baleen to a child at World Oceans Day 2022
World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Local partnerships

Successful conservation takes a village. Our team works closely with industry leaders and local destination marketing organizations to adopt sustainable goals and business practices within the tourism industry as a whole. Promoting cultural tourism in this region is vital and we continue to build a working relationship with local Indigenous communities for this purpose.

Our staff members volunteer their time with school career fairs, coaching and showcasing career opportunities, and giving talks on sustainability and conservation. We run a diversified outreach portfolio, including roles as co-organizer of World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf and co-founder of the Earth Day Power Hour.

An Eagle Wing educator/naturalist holds up a piece of bull kelp as he talks to schoolchildren in our award-winning education program
The “Exploring the Salish Sea” floating classroom in action! / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Education is key

We know that education is essential to ocean conservation and sustainability. Through experiential ecotourism, the company brings the Salish Sea to life. On every tour guests learn about conservation and sustainability, history, connection, and how they can make a difference.

Our goal is to connect guests on an emotional level and inspire them to be more aware of their own footprint, make better choices, and become advocates for the marine environment—no matter where they live.

The crown jewel of our outreach activities is the award-winning “Exploring the Salish Sea” floating classroom program. It combines ocean-themed classroom learning and experiential activities to ignite a passion for ocean conservation and sustainability among local schoolchildren. By spring 2023 this popular program—operated by Eagle Wing as a not-for-profit venture—will have hosted 8,000 Greater Victoria students!

Eagle Wing staff 2022 stand on the bow of one of our vessels, all thumbs up!
Most of the Eagle Wing Tours team, 2022

YOU share this award with us!

“Everything we do at Eagle Wing revolves around environmental stewardship and what every one of us can do to protect the ocean and its wildlife,” say co-owners Brett Soberg and Don Stewart. “Our customers can take pride in knowing that their tourism dollars are leaving a positive impact on the whales and the marine environment on which we all depend.”

Join us on a tour to learn more about (and support!) our award-winning sustainability initiatives! Give us a call or book online!

Giuests watching a killer whale from our vessel Wild 4 Whales
Guests watching a killer whale from our vessel Wild 4 Whales