Transat lends its support to four new sustainable tourism projects in Mexico,
Peru, Morocco and Turkey


    
        From the Aegean Sea to Machu Picchu, Transat demonstrates its
                       commitment to local communities

    -   Over the past three years, the tour operator has supported
        12 projects in 8 countries, representing financial commitments of
        close to half a million dollars.
    -   The 2009 crop of projects is of high calibre, and includes a
        promising collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance to take action
        in the Maya Riviera region of Mexico.
    -   Initiatives include protecting coastal marine environments in Turkey,
        establishing a long-distance hiking trail in Morocco, and developing
        the coffee, tea and cocoa route in Peru.
    
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<p><location>MONTREAL</location>, <chron>Dec. 8</chron> /CNW Telbec/ - Transat, one of the largest integrated tourism companies in the world and Canada's holiday travel leader, today announced its support for four new sustainable tourism initiatives in as many of its destination countries, namely <location>Mexico</location>, <location>Peru</location>, <location>Morocco</location> and <location>Turkey</location>. From the <person>Maya Riviera</person> to Machu Picchu, from the Saffron Region to the Aegean Sea, Transat's financial support program for projects in travel destinations continues to broaden its international reach in favour of more sustainable tourism. Since the program was founded in 2007, Transat has supported 12 projects in 8 countries (the others are <location>Canada</location>, <location>France</location>, <location>Cuba</location> and <location>Tunisia</location>) and committed nearly <money>$475,000</money> ((euro)300,000).</p>
<p>"With three years of experience, we now realize that the projects being promoted by the organizations and communities that we support are generating benefits that extend far beyond the short-term results they may aim for," said Lina De Cesare, Chair of Transat's Sustainable Tourism Executive Committee. "These projects are nurturing a vision of tourism that entails respect for host communities and the environment, which, sooner or later, is bound to positively influence local stakeholders and tourism industry."</p>
<p>Selected following an international call for projects issued in its 60 destination countries, the four projects chosen by Transat this year aim to enhance the tourism potential of regions and communities from a perspective of sustainability, and/or mitigate some social and environmental impacts of tourism.</p>
<p>Transat will collaborate with the international conservation organization Rainforest Alliance, which, in coordination with the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) - which itself has the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Tour Operators' Initiative (TOI), of which Transat is a member - will provide a comprehensive training program in sustainable tourism as well as technical support to hotel operators in the <person>Maya Riviera</person> region of <location>Mexico</location>. The program will address both the environmental and social issues specific to responsible hotel operations.</p>
<p>"The project proposed by Rainforest Alliance for the <person>Maya Riviera</person> is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the awareness-raising efforts we are engaged in with our hotel partners," <person>Ms. De Cesare</person> added.</p>
<p><location>Mexico</location> ranks among Transat's top destination countries and every year, some 250,000 of the tour operator's customers from <location>Canada</location> and <location>France</location> travel to the <person>Maya Riviera</person>, a major tourist destination.</p>
<p>Transat is supporting a project in <location>Peru</location> put forward by the Canadian organization Carrefour de solidarité internationale, which, in collaboration with local tourism co-op Coclatours, is planning to develop an alternative route to the existing highway from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and giving local communities and tea, coffee and cocoa farmers a stake in its management. Restoration of two 16th-century haciendas, training of farmers in sustainable rural tourism practices, and awareness-raising among tourism industry stakeholders and visitors are part of the plan.</p>
<p>Transat is also backing the Franco-Moroccan association Migrations & Développment, which is implementing a solidarity tourism development project in the region of Taliouine, in southwest <location>Morocco</location>, known as the country's Saffron Region, in co-operation with village associations. The multi-tiered project calls for creation of a long-distance hiking trail, production of a topographic map and guide, construction of guesthouses, training for guides and families who will host tourists, and creation of an arts & crafts centre for local pottery makers.</p>
<p>Lastly, Transat is joining forces with the Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA) in the roll-out of a wide-ranging environmental education campaign to raise awareness among key regional tourism players about protection of marine environments near the communities of Gocek and Fethiye, located in one of Turkey's 14 Specially Protected Areas.</p>
<p>"We are very proud to be working with these organizations, all of which are taking action in the field in favour of more sustainable tourism. Our support, which is both financial and moral, is another way for us to give concrete expression to our willingness to make a difference in our destination countries," <person>Ms. De Cesare</person> concluded.</p>
<p>The amounts granted to this year's projects total <money>$145,000</money> ((euro)91,000) and vary from <money>$30,000</money> ((euro)19,000) to <money>$50,000</money> ((euro)35,000), the latter being the maximum amount that can be awarded per project under the program.</p>
<p>In 2007 and 2008, Transat supported sustainable tourism projects in partnership with WWF-Canada in <location>Cuba</location>; the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve Network (Ontario Nature), Seigneurie des Aulnaies, les Amis du marais de Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly and Coopérative l'Échappée Bleue, all in <location>Canada</location>; Association De Navigatio in <location>France</location>; and the Association de développement durable in Médenine, <location>Tunisia</location>. Descriptions of each project are available at <a href="http://www.transat.com/en/social.responsibility">www.transat.com/en/social.responsibility</a>.</p>
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<p>About Transat</p>
<p/>
<p>Transat A.T. Inc. is an integrated international tour operator with more than 60 destination countries and that distributes products in over 50 countries. A holiday travel specialist, Transat operates mainly in <location>Canada</location> and <location>Europe</location>, as well as in the Caribbean, <location>Mexico</location> and the Mediterranean Basin. Montreal-based Transat is also active in air transportation, destination services, accommodation and distribution. (TSX: TRZ.B, TRZ.A)</p>
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          Sustainable tourism projects supported by Transat in 2009

    Organization: Rainforest Alliance (New York City, United States)
    Project undertaken in: Maya Riviera, Quintana Roo, Mexico
    Project title: "Protecting the Maya Riviera through Sustainable Tourism"
    
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<p>The international conservation organization Rainforest Alliance is developing a sustainable tourism promotion program for local hotel operators in the <person>Maya Riviera</person>, a leading tourist destination on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Jointly with its local partner, the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) - itself supported by the Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI), an association of tour operators and tourism companies, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - Rainforest Alliance will provide training and technical support in environmental and social best practices to hotel owners and managers in the region. The practices aim, among other things, to conserve water and energy, manage waste, manage development near water bodies, and combat the sexual exploitation of children in tourism. For more than 20 years, the Rainforest Alliance has worked to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. It is recognized for its expertise in sustainable practices and certification, for example in the forestry, agriculture and tourism sectors.</p>
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    Media inquiries:   Abby Ray
                       Rainforest Alliance
                       646-452-1939
                       aray@ra.org


    Organization: Carrefour de solidarité internationale (Sherbrooke, Canada)
    Project undertaken in: Cusco Region, Province of La Convencion, Peru
    Project title: "The Tea, Coffee, Cocoa and Cooperatives Route to Machu
    Picchu"
    
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<p>The Canadian organization Carrefour de solidarité internationale will create, in partnership with local co-operative Coclatours, a rural tourism development program giving local farmers and communities a stake in development of new tourism route from Cusco to Machu Picchu, in <location>Peru</location>. The project supported by Transat will develop an alternative, sustainable route that will take into account local culture and environmental concerns, and be run by the local farmer community. The project includes restoration of two 16th-century haciendas and their repurposing as tourist hospitality infrastructures, enhancement of knowledge in responsible tourism management for members of local co-ops, as well as development and distribution of communications tools promoting sustainable tourism to local tourism industry stakeholders as well as visitors. Carrefour de solidarité internationale was founded in 1976 and works to develop international solidarity, social justice and sustainable development, mainly in Latin America.</p>
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    Media inquiries:   Caroline Nault
                       Carrefour de solidarité internationale
                       819 566-8595n (ext. 24)
                       communications@csisher.com


    Organization: Migrations & Développement (Marseille, France)
    Project undertaken in: Taliouine Region, Province of Taroudannt, Morocco
    Project title: "Enhancing Tourism Attractiveness and Territorial
    Development in the Anti-Atlas of Morocco"
    
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<p>Transat has joined forces with France-based Migrations & Développement to implement a sustainable and solidarity tourism program in <location>Morocco</location>, aimed at developing local tourism supply and highlighting architectural, cultural and ecological heritage, in co-operation with local village associations. Targeting the area around the city of Taliouine, Morocco's "Saffron Capital," and the Anti-Atlas - a mountain chain in the southwestern part of the country - the project calls for marking and certification of a long-distance hiking trail with assistance from the Fédération française de randonnée pédestre, publishing of a topographic map and guide, and improvements to accommodation capacity via construction of guest rooms in traditional dwellings. Customized training will be provided to the families managing the guest rooms as well as to the local tour guides and mule drivers who will accompany hikers. Creation of a pottery production and exhibition centre is also planned. Created in 1986 by Moroccan immigrants to <location>France</location> with a shared aspiration to support development in their native villages, Migrations & Développment today collaborates with more than 400 local associations in 70 rural communes, making up a genuine integrated development network.</p>
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    Media inquiries:   md.france@migdev.org
                       Migrations & Développment
                       04 95 06 80 20


    Organization: Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association
    (Istanbul, Turkey)
    Project undertaken in: Region of Gocek and Fethiye, Province of Mugla,
    Turkey
    Project title: "Supporting Sustainable Boat Tourism in Gocek and Fethiye"
    
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<p>The Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA) is mounting an education program to promote greener tourism- and pleasure-boating in the region of Gocek and Fethiye, on the Aegean coast, where these activities have grown considerably over the years. The project supported by Transat is structured around an extensive sustainable tourism awareness campaign, along with training programs for tour boat captains and sailors as well as employees of marinas and seaside hotels. The workshops will seek to promote heightened awareness of environmental issues among some 500 regional tourism stakeholders so as to better protect marine plants and animals in this tourist region, renowned for its magnificent bays and located in one of the country's 14 Specially Protected Areas. TURMEPA is a non-government organization founded in 1994 and dedicated to protecting Turkey's marine environment and its 8,333 kilometres of coastline.</p>
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    Media inquiries:   Ergun Bulut
                       TURMEPA
                       90 216 310 93 01
                       ergunb@turmepa.org.tr
    

For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: Jacques Bouchard, Manager, Media Relations, (514) 987-1660, ext. 4662, jacques.bouchard@transat.com; Source: Transat A.T. Inc., www.transat.com


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