Delegates to the recent American Tourism Society (ATS) 2009 Fall Conference in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (“Meck-Pomm“) located in the eastern part of Germany, donned jeans as they participated in the first ever Tourism Cares tree planting program in Europe. Tourism Cares is a non-profit, US-based global philanthropy dedicated to “preserving the travel experience for future generations.”

On October 28, 2009, at a specially-designated “Tourism Cares Climate Forest” in Schuenhagen, 130 ATS delegates including American and German travel industry professionals, regional government tourism officials, German tourism students, and members of the local community, planted 330 “Ahorn” (Maple) trees, which the German hosts said were symbolic of America. This tree-planting program in Germany was the first time a Tourism Cares project was integrated into the ATS Conference program itself.

Phil Otterson, ATS president and executive VP, external affairs, Tauck World Discovery, noted that the ATS delegates were pleased and very touched with the enthusiasm and reception by the local community to this project. “ATS is pleased to be able to provide our members with the opportunity to do something meaningful for the host destination in addition to the ATS Tourism College program. The Tourism Cares restoration projects In the US have always provided its participants with a great sense of satisfaction and comraderie. We are confident that the Tree Planting and future ATS -Tourism Cares activities will generate this same level of involvement and enthusiasm.”

Bernd Fischer CEO of the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Tourist Board, noted that: “Tourism Cares embodies the concept of sustainable tourism. We in the state of Mecklenburg Vormpommern uniquely are dependent on protected nature as a key ingredient in our tourism package, as research indicates that for 90 percent of the 10 million annual visitors, experiencing nature is the major reason for their coming here. We are proud that Tourism Cares’ first European initiative was here in Meck-Pomm, in conjunction with the ATS Conference which we hosted.”

Bruce Beckham, executive director, Tourism Cares, lauded both ATS and the German hosts for organizing this project” “What a special occasion. Tourism Cares was proud and privileged to be part of this first-ever tree planting collaboration between Germany and America. We are also honored by the permanent signage marking the Tourism Cares Climate Forest. We look forward to using this partnership model for planning future projects with ATS.”