At the 2024 eTourism Summit, Molly Cano, Economic Development and Tourism Manager at Visit San Luis Obispo, and Jarrod Lopiccolo, CEO and Founder of Noble Studios, shared a compelling narrative of collaboration and innovation. They shed light on the symbiotic relationship between the City of San Luis Obispo and Visit San Luis Obispo, illustrating how their joint commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 is taking tangible shape through innovative projects like ‘Keys for Trees’ and ‘MidWeekend’.

Their presentation highlighted the Sustainable SLO program, a visionary initiative spearheaded by Visit San Luis Obispo to foster environmental sustainability within the local tourism sector. This holistic endeavor, anchored by groundbreaking concepts such as “Keys for Trees” and “MidWeekend,” aims to mitigate the ecological footprint of tourism by promoting tree planting and diverting visitor traffic to off-peak periods.

Positioned strategically between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo stands as a vanguard of environmental stewardship. Renowned for pioneering measures like the nation’s first indoor smoking ban and the elimination of drive-thrus, the city epitomizes a commitment to sustainable urban development. With a steadfast resolve to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, city planners champion a philosophy of sustainable growth over urban sprawl.

In line with its overarching brand strategy, Visit San Luis Obispo embarked on crafting a sub-brand centered on sustainability, aimed at educating visitors about the town’s eco-conscious ethos. Thus, Sustainable SLO was born—a branded initiative designed to resonate with environmentally conscious travelers and foster awareness of sustainable travel practices.


Visit San Luis Obispo’s objectives with Sustainable SLO were clear:

  1. Advance progress towards the city’s 2035 carbon neutrality target while promoting responsible tourism practices.
  2. Encourage visitors to opt for weekday visits or extend their weekend stays to mitigate the effects of overtourism.
  3. Drive overnight stays through partnerships with programs like “Keys for Trees,” wherein a portion of room charges contributes to tree-planting efforts in collaboration with EcoSLO, aiming to plant 10,000 trees.
  4. Engage a diverse audience to raise awareness of Sustainable SLO initiatives and responsible tourism practices, thereby fostering a culture of sustainability among travelers and locals alike.

The collaborative efforts between the City of San Luis Obispo and Visit San Luis Obispo underscore a powerful synergy between government and tourism entities, united by a shared commitment to environmental stewardship. Together, they are not only redefining the narrative of responsible tourism but also setting a precedent for communities worldwide, demonstrating that sustainable practices are not only achievable but also integral to building a resilient and thriving future for generations to come.

Photo Credit: Visit San Luis Obispo and Noble Studios

Have a story idea or want to be featured? Email Mattie Allen at mallen@connectmeetings.com.

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