Opportunities abound for group CSR and regenerative tourism activities.
Atlantic City is all about sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). To cite a few examples: The 500,000 sq.- ft Atlantic City Convention Center is LEED Gold and GBAC STAR certified, and has more than 290,000 sq.-ft of solar energy panels. The five-turbine Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm powers approximately 2,600 Atlantic City homes and, in tandem with a 500 kilowatt solar electric project, produces power to operate a wastewater treatment facility. Local businesses are onboard with sustainability projects as well, such as the Tanger Outlets Atlantic City beekeeping program, which not only promotes environmental responsibility but also biodiversity within communities.
Atlantic City encourages meetings to give back to the community. “We encourage planners to incorporate CSR options into their meeting programming so that they can leave a destination better than when they arrived,” said Meet AC Communications Manager Jessica Kasunich.
Prevue asked Kasunich how groups meeting in Atlantic City are giving back, and to share tips on how planners can incorporate CSR and sustainability in their meetings.
Below are some insights and tips from Meet AC:
• Work with your local Destination Management Organization (DMO) or Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). “They can assist in making meaningful connections between the community, visitors, and business people alike to better a destination,” said Kasunich.
• For example, Meet AC can connect planners with more than 17 organizations that offer CSR programs for groups. These include the non-profit Inlet Public Private Association which helps to preserve the historic Absecon Lighthouse; the Humane Society of Atlantic County, an animal shelter, spay clinic, and veterinary clinic; MudGirls Studios, providing art and entrepreneurship opportunities to economically disadvantaged and at-risk women; and the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean and beaches.
• Regenerative tourism represents a sustainable way to travel and discover someplace new, said Kasunich. “Regenerative activities include beach clean-ups and volunteer opportunities with accredited area organizations as well as beautification projects to make a destination better after you leave.”
• Destination hotels often give back with regenerative tourism/CSR projects. For instance, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Oyster Shell Recycling Program to put discarded oyster and clam shells from its restaurants back into area waters. Program benefits to date include diverting 65 tons of shells from landfills.
• Planners can piggyback on local sustainability initiatives that can help meetings give back in a meaningful way. For example, The Atlantic City Jitney is an affordable, safe and ecological mode of transportation, noted Kasunich. “Powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), this people mover runs throughout the city and can also be tailored for a specific route for an event,” she said. All-told, 190 Atlantic City Jitneys use the CNG fuel and provide shuttles for meetings and conventions.