SLO CAL — Building a Business with Sustainability at the Core

World Travel & Tourism Council
4 min readMar 2, 2023


Destination Spotlight — SLO CAL — Sustainability Bottom Up

Ensuring small local enterprises have the know-how and resources to implement sustainable practices isn’t always simple and often requires knowledge sharing through conversations around what it means to truly operate sustainably.

SLO CAL is a region that has been able to unite business owners in an extraordinary way to forge a clear commitment to sustainability through combined efforts. The WTTC took a glimpse into the operations of small business owners to see exactly how they are adapting sustainable practices to ensure tourism is preserved for future visitors to SLO CAL. This micro approach looks to recognise how organisations on the ground in SLO CAL are putting theory into practice in a bid to safeguard travel and tourism and preserve the way of life of residents.

Understanding the value of implementing sustainable practices and the attitude towards the sharing of learnings is deep-seated into the SLO CAL way of life. As a result, smaller organisations have a strong awareness of their responsibility to the planet and are able to leverage this to implement meaningful actions that support SLO CAL’s philosophy and ethos.

“Our world is interconnected; we should know that our small actions can have a big impact on the world” — Dr Sandy Shen, Cal Poly

Dr Sandy Shen, Cal Poly

Morro Bay Oyster Company produce high-quality fresh oysters form the cold, nutrient rich waters of Morro Bay on the Central Californian coast. The oyster farmers harvest the oysters in a way that maintains the health and sustainability of the bay. The oysters filter the water which allow for more photosynthesis to occur to organically strengthen the ecosystem. To ensure their oysters are of the finest quality, the team patrol the coastline as part of their routine trash clean ups, safeguarding the natural environment so that the oysters can thrive.

Morro Bay Oyster Company

SLO CAL based business Kelpful creates seaweed-based pantry and self-care products with the abundance of organic kelp grown on the central coast. This impact-orientated business has sustainability at the heart of its operations. Kelpful sustainably wild harvest the kelp used in their products at low tide, dry them naturally in the sun and offer them in compostable or recyclable packaging, leaving no trace throughout the product lifecycle. The seaweed is cultivated in a way that improves the climate situation and improves climate resilience, meaning only small amounts are taken at a time — think of it as pruning a garden in the way that it helps to promote new growth & improve the ecosystem. Kelpful offer visitors to SLO CAL the opportunity to take part in costal foraging classes to teach them how to identify and harvest seaweed for themselves, passing on their knowledge of sustainable foraging onto tourists.

Melissa Hansen, Kelpful

Located in the vibrant heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo, Hotel Cerro hosts visitors to SLO CAL and eloquently captures the laid-back vibe of the Central Coast. The hotel is committed to locally sourcing all the produce used in their restaurant and bar. In order to minimise their carbon footprint, the hotel has developed an edible garden, in which they forecast what is in season and use what they grow to define what dishes make it onto their menu and which cocktails they serve.

Hotel Cerro

Re:Find Distillery is reinventing the traditional spirit manufacturing process by using the discarded grape juice from wine production to create handcrafted luxury spirits. Pioneers of the SLO Country craft distilling movement, Re:Find reclaim approximately 60-acres of wine grapes each year through their distillery, repurposing the wasted water, fuel and manpower into a premium spirit. The distillery is a shining example to visitors to SLO CAL of great Californian ingenuity through reimaging traditional processes.

RE:FIND Distillery

Organisations in SLO CAL are demonstrating how tangible sustainable practices can be implemented to provide visitors with experiences that positively contribute to the safeguarding of our planet. This ethos has established the region as a trailblazer in sustainable tourism and is a vital pilar in Visit SLO CAL’s long term tourism strategy, which has been fully embraced by the wider community with small and large businesses alike working towards this common goal.

In this series we will capture the essence of SLO CAL by exploring the ways in which their tourism strategy has been able to encourage sustainable tourism to the region whilst simultaneously acting as responsible stewards on behalf of the community that resides there. Through top down and bottom up perspectives, we’ll explore how different tourism entities are working to present SLO CAL as a tranquil tourist hotspot whilst staying true to their sustainability values — as life really is too beautiful to rush.

Explore the SLO CAL Destination Spotlight Series



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