Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism Named Early Adopter by Transformational Travel Council

Destination Marketing Organization in Washington state to develop industry leading road map for regenerative travel

Driftwood Beach Scene

Photo by Suzi Pratt

COUPEVILLE, Wash., July 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism is undergoing strategic planning in partnership with the Transformational Travel Council (TTC) in a bold step to adapt to a forever-changed travel industry, and to lay the groundwork for a future-fit destination. An early adopter of the TTC’s Regenerative Places Program, the year-long process cultivates shared values and vision, builds stakeholder capacity, and facilitates the co-creation of a Regenerative Action Plan. This process is designed to develop the self-regulation of the islands’ tourism systems, and ultimately plant the seeds for a tourism industry that improves the lives of residents, enriches the visitor experience, and benefits the natural environment of the islands.

“Tourism is the third largest industry in Island County, yet with islands being particularly vulnerable to over-tourism, there is a desire to change how this industry affects our sense of place,” says Sherrye Wyatt, PR & marketing manager for Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism. “We see the early signs of unsustainable visitor trends and we want to mold our strategy in a proactive way that will ensure that our community and environment will thrive alongside our tourism industry for years to come.”

“While the industry is drawn to buzz words like “transformational” or “sustainable” tourism as part of a rebrand or messaging, at this critical moment, it is vital that we walk the walk, even when it is hard. Early adopters of our program, like Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism, are going through a transformative process that unifies, shifts mindsets, and opens them up to new ways of believing, doing, and being so they can fully embrace transformative and regenerative approaches. We hope that by helping them with sensemaking we’re able to cultivate an emergence from within that fosters a community that works for all and does so long after we’ve left,” says Jake Haupert, CEO of the TTC.

Regenerative tourism development takes a systemic approach to the design and development of the visitor economy starting with shifting mindsets, and working from the inside out and ground up, to co-design innovative legacy solutions that benefit the whole system. This process is not supposed to be quick and easy, but rather meaningful and effective. While the full plan will take effect later this year in response to community surveys and outreach, workshops with key stakeholders and more, Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism has already revealed programs to support the regenerative effort. A new field guide suggests alternatives to popular, well-loved beaches and trails called 24 Trails off the Beaten Path. It details routes along wooded hideaways, pastoral vistas, and rugged beaches in an effort to lessen the visitor impact on over-visited island spots. Each of the 24 trails are also detailed on the website whidbeycamanoislands.com/24trails.

About Whidbey and Camano Islands 
Drive off the mainland to find two of the most accessible and scenic island destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Camano and Whidbey sit just north of Seattle, a short trip via bridge or ferry. Offering a different experience with each season, the islands provide locally inspired shops and restaurants, dynamic experiences for a variety of interests, recreation, and beach combing. Rich history and a healthy dose of local color in all mediums is provided by the region’s many artists. Lodging options range from nationally renowned hotels to secret spots ideal for a quiet retreat. For more information on amenities, lodging and a calendar of events visit www.whidbeycamanoislands.com. Connect on TwitterInstagram and Facebook via @GoWhidbeyCamano.

About the Transformational Travel Council
TTC is a growing organization rising to meet the challenges that face a post-pandemic travel industry. TTC members are dedicated to supporting both travelers and the travel industry in transforming lives and changing the world through more mindful and intentional travel experiences. Their mission is to use travel as a catalyst for creating deeper connections with self and nature and as a tool for fostering global citizenry, communication, understanding, stewardship, and real human connection.

Media Contacts:
Erin Osborne / Annie Sullivan
ON Public Relations for Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism
206-948-6059 / 206-856-5660
erin@onpublicrelations.com / annie@onpublicrelations.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/4578b891-b37f-4dec-a00f-fcbcd622b420

Sustained Efficacy of Long-Acting Cabotegravir for PrEP Among Cisgender Women – Findings from HPTN 084 Study

DURHAM, N.C., July 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Researchers from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) presented updated results from the HPTN 084 long-acting cabotegravir (CAB) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) study at the AIDS 2022 conference in Montreal. New findings show reductions in HIV incidence were sustained in the 12 months following trial unblinding (November 5, 2020, through November 5, 2021).

“These results are encouraging as CAB efficacy was sustained during the 12 months following unblinding, confirming a high level of protection against HIV acquisition among study participants assigned female at birth,” said Dr. Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, HPTN 084 protocol chair, director of research at Wits RHI, and research professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

HPTN 084 is an ongoing Phase 3 randomized, controlled trial that previously demonstrated the superiority of ViiV Healthcare’s long-acting cabotegravir compared to daily oral tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) for HIV prevention in individuals assigned female at birth. The blinded portion of the trial was stopped at a planned interim review in November 2020 due to evidence of superior efficacy when compared to daily oral TDF/FTC. Participants were subsequently unblinded and continued their original randomized study regimen pending a protocol amendment to offer open-label CAB.

“HIV infection continues to threaten the health of women worldwide,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, HPTN co-principal investigator, and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. “Empowering women with safe and effective PrEP options is critical to reducing HIV as a global health threat.”

HPTN 084 enrolled 3,223 cisgender women at research sites in Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Twenty-three incident infections (3 CAB, 20 TDF/FTC) were detected in the 12-month unblinded period. Of these, two (1 CAB, 1 TDF/FTC) were determined to have occurred during the blinded phase. Only one of the CAB cases (blinded phase case) had ever received an injection. An additional 83 confirmed pregnancies (43 CAB, 40 TDF/FTC) occurred in the unblinded period. No congenital anomalies were reported.

“The additional pregnancy incidence data highlight the importance of establishing the safety and pharmacology of CAB among pregnant individuals,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, HPTN co-principal investigator, director of ICAP, and professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University in New York.

HPTN 084 was co-funded by NIAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and ViiV Healthcare. Study product was provided by ViiV Healthcare and Gilead Sciences, Inc. Three other NIH institutes also collaborated on HPTN 084: the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

About HPTN

The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) is a worldwide collaborative clinical trials network that brings together investigators, ethicists, community members, and other partners to develop and test the safety and efficacy of interventions designed to prevent the acquisition and transmission of HIV. The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Office of The Director, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, all part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, co-fund the HPTN. The HPTN has collaborated with more than 85 clinical research sites in 19 countries to evaluate new HIV prevention interventions and strategies in populations with a disproportionate HIV burden. The HPTN research agenda – more than 50 trials ongoing or completed with over 161,000 participants enrolled and evaluated – is focused primarily on discovering new HIV prevention tools and evaluating integrated strategies, including biomedical interventions combined with behavioral risk reduction interventions and structural interventions. For more information, visit hptn.org.

Eric Miller
HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN)

Los Angeles County Avoids New Mask Rule as COVID Stabilizes

Los Angeles County dropped a plan to impose a universal indoor mask mandate this week as COVID-19 infections and rates of hospitalizations have stabilized, a top health official said Thursday.
Health director Barbara Ferrer said two weeks ago that the nation’s most populous county could again require face coverings if trends in hospital admissions continued under criteria set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Thursday, she said the county had dodged imposition of the broad mask rule. The county remains at the “high” CDC level of community transmission, but it could drop to “medium” in coming weeks.
Ferrer made the announcement during a briefing at which she displayed flat and declining data graphs. She said transmission had dropped steadily since July 23, “potentially signaling the beginning of a downward trend in cases.” Hospitalizations are also down.
“We’re on a decline right now, and it’s hard for us to imagine reinstating universal indoor masking when we’re on this significant of a decline,” Ferrer said. But she added that health officials would reassess things should case rates and hospital admissions spike again.
While masks won’t be required in most indoor spaces, Ferrer reminded residents that face coverings remain an effective tool to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
As it has for most of the pandemic, L.A. County will still require masks in some indoor spaces, including health care facilities, mass transit vehicles, airports, jails and homeless shelters.
The new mandate, which would have gone into effect Friday, would have expanded the requirement to all indoor public spaces, including shared offices, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters and schools.
Nationwide, the latest COVID-19 surge is driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 variant, which now accounts for a majority of cases. It has shown a remarkable ability to get around the protection offered by vaccination.

Source: Voice of America

Study: Climate Change Made UK Heat Wave Hotter, More Likely

Human-caused climate change made last week’s deadly heat wave in England and Wales at least 10 times more likely and added a few degrees to how brutally hot it got, a study said.
A team of international scientists found that the heat wave that set a new national record high at 40.3 degrees Celsius was made stronger and more likely by the buildup of heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. They said Thursday that temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer in the heat wave than they would have been without climate change, depending on which method scientists used.
The study has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal yet but follows scientifically accepted techniques, and past such studies have been published months later.
“We would not have seen temperatures above 40 degrees in the U.K. without climate change,” study senior author Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College of London, said in an interview. “The fingerprint is super strong.”
World Weather Attribution, a collection of scientists across the globe who do real-time studies of extreme weather to see whether climate change played a role in an extreme weather event and if so how much of one, looked at two-day average temperatures for July 18 and 19 in much of England and Wales and the highest temperature reached in that time.
The daily highest temperatures were the most unusual, a one-in-1,000-year event in the current warmer world, but “almost impossible in a world without climate change,” the study said. Last week’s heat smashed the old national record by 1.6 degrees Celsius. The average over two hot days and nights is a once a century event now but is “nearly impossible” without climate change.
When the scientists used the long history of temperatures in England to determine the impact of global warming, they saw a stronger climate change influence than when they used simulations from climate models. For some reason that scientists aren’t quite certain about, climate models have long underestimated extreme weather signals in the summer in Western Europe, Otto said.
With climate models, the scientists simulate a world without the 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times and see how likely this heat would have been in that cooler world without fossil fuel-charged warming. With observations they look at history and calculate the chances of such a heat wave that way.
“The methodology seems sound, but candidly, I didn’t need a study to tell me this was climate change,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, who wasn’t on this study team but was on a U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel that said these types of studies are scientifically valid. “This new era of heat is particularly dangerous because most homes are not equipped for it there.”
The World Weather Attribution study refers to another analysis that estimates a heat wave like this would kill at least 800 people in England and Wales, where there is less air conditioning than in warmer climates.
Otto, who had to sleep and work in the basement because of the heat, said as the world warms, these record-smashing heat waves will continue to come more frequently and be hotter.
In addition to spurring people to cut greenhouse gas emissions, study co-author Gabe Vecchi said, “this heat wave and heat waves like it should be a reminder that we have to adapt to a warmer world. We are not living in our parents’ world anymore.”

Source: Voice of America

Two Lao towns receive ASEAN’s Environmental Awards

Two towns of the Lao PDR have received ASEAN’s Environmental Awards.
The two Lao towns are Xammeua district, the capital of Huaphan province and Kaysone Phomvihane city, the capital of Savannakhet province.
Xammeua district has received the Asean Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) Award for 2021 for its good air quality and environmentally-friendly development. While Kaysone Phomvihane city won an Environmentally Sustainable Cities Certificate of Recognition for 2021 after it implemented a prototype urban plan in line with the Asean environmental sustainable development model.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mrs Bounkham Vorachit, presented the awards to authorities of the two provinces and cities. The handover ceremony was held in Vientiane last week at the National Convention Centre.
During the ceremony, Director General of the ministry’s Environment Department, Mr Ounheuang Xayachack, said Laos submitted Luang Prabang, Xamneua and Kaysone Phomvihane cities as award candidates to the Asean Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities on July 5.
ASEAN initiated the Asean Environmentally Sustainable City Award programme to stimulate, benchmark, and recognise exemplary efforts on environmental sustainability.

Source: Lao News Agency

Cooperation, key to fight Covid-19

China is showing us an example of successful fight against Covid-19. The country has recorded fewer deaths and infections as compared to its sizable population with its daily infections currently standing at around 100.
Beijing, the city of over 20 million people, has recorded one-digit infections since the beginning of this month. In addition, 92.1% of people in China have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, meanwhile 89.7 are reportedly given all recommended doses. This has proved that China fight against Covid-19 has enjoyed sound cooperation from people in the country.
Once anti-Covid-19 prevention and control measures have been announced by the government according to the guidance of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, all sectors, general public members, businesses give cooperation to fulfill them.
To achieve China’s “zero Covid-19 policy”, everyone entering China is required to take a 14-day quarantine during which they will be tested for Covid-19 every two or three days. Covid testing is also given every two-three days even after the quarantine is over.
The Chinese government has developed a smart phone app “Health Kit” which users can use to register for nucleic acid test without completing a paper form. The app can be also used for showing test results and vaccination records.
Before entrance is granted for shops, business places, public or private offices, a doorman will ask clients to scan Health Kit QR code which can reveal their latest Covid test results. If the results have been negative for not later than three days, you will be granted an access.
Some places require the negative results issued not later than two days. Without these negative results entrance will be denied.
In communities, Covid test booths have been installed for anyone who wants to have a Covid test. Usually, there are two to four holes on the walls of these transparent booths. The holes are for health workers to put their hands through to collect samples from test seekers.
What you need to bring when going to a Covid test booth is just a smart phone. Use your smart phone to scan a QR code shown at the beginning of the queue. The codewill lead you to completing easy-step registration. Once the registration is completed, your QR code will pop up. Show your QR code to health workers, then get your sample collected and it’s all done.
You can check your test results via Health Kit app within 24 hours.
Imagine that we have all technologies and facilities like China, but some sectors or individuals refuse to provide their cooperation, controlling and preventing the Covid-19 pandemic would be hard to achieve.
Our Party and government have made efforts in ensuring at least 80% of Lao population are given all recommended doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this year to ensure we have stronger immunity to the corona virus disease.
The majority of people and authorities have actively participated in fulfilling such a vaccination target. As of Jul 23, more than 5.86 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The number represents 80% of population in the country. This includes 5.19 million given all recommended doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, representing 70.8% of the population.
According to the World Health Organisation, most Covid-vaccinated people will develop stronger immunity and be unlikely to be severely ill, hospitalized or die from Covid-19 for at least six months.
Unfortunately, some people and groups of people have a misunderstanding about Covid-19 vaccination, are misled by unscientific information spread by unofficial and unreliable sourceswhich aims to prevent people from getting vaccinated thus derailing our efforts to reach a 80%-Covid vaccine coverage as set by the Party and government.
All Lao people and relevant authorities are required to take part in fulfilling the Covid-19 vaccination goal and fighting misinformation about the Covid vaccine, stop believing or sharing fake news, information from unverified or untrustworthy sources and, in contrast, disseminate scientific information that is beneficial to the Covid vaccination and observe preventive measures such as wearing face masks, washing hands with soap and alcohol hand gels to ensure our country brings Covid-19under control,and don’t forget that “No one is safe until everyone is safe”.

Source: Lao News Agency