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TTC Special: Caribbean: Sustainable tourism success or economic failure

TTC Special: Caribbean: Sustainable tourism success or economic failure

Baracoa, Cuba is an example of sustainable tourism. Photo: TTC

By Frank Martin

TTC Service.- Sustainable tourism is the goal of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, including the Caribbean islands, committed to that goal.

Last week Belize has unveiled a new tourism campaign aimed at targeting the Latin American market by promoting sustainable tourism by offering boutique experiences rather than mass tourism packages.

According to Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, the new campaign, “Belize: So Exotic. So Close” is crucial.

Heredia introduced the campaign in Mexico City over the weekend. The new campaign targets visitors from Latin America, including those from Mexico, which shares some cultural and historical features with Belize.

“Our goal is sustainable tourism. None of that all-inclusive stuff” Heredia said, referring to Belize’s 25-year strategic plan for the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for 38% of GDP.

Belize has displayed its commitment to sustainable safeguarding its environment, with some 70% of the country’s territory and waters enjoying protected status.

Investments by several top-line hotels and resorts as well as those by stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, have given Belize even more international prominence as a sustainable eco-tourism destination.

Belize Tourism Board (BTB) Director, Karen Bevans, said Belize is hoping to attract more Mexican tourists because even though the countries are geographically close and share a Mayan heritage.

Experts says when tourism is sustainable, it benefits locals and provides tourists with a high-quality experience whilst preserving the environment. As a result, sustainability has many dimensions — social, political and ecological, among others

Travel and tourism are viewed as drivers for economic growth and job creation, with employees and quality of work at the center of the sustainable tourism debate, yet compared to professions such as nursing, there is limited research on the experiences of the tourism workforce.

Tourism is an essential source of revenue and employment in the Caribbean region and sustainable tourism is more important now than ever before in the history of the industry.

The new and negative factor is climate change.

The impact of climate change on the Caribbean tourism sector is therefore of great importance to these island States, as the effects of climate change on the climate-sensitive ecosystems of the Caribbean will affect the islands socially and economically. Nevertheless, the tourism sector itself produces a considerable amount of CO2 emissions, which in turn have a deleterious effect on the climate.

Experts added that is crucial the further expands on the two-way relationship between tourism and climate change and the Caribbean’s path toward sustainable tourism.

In the Caribbean, Sustainable Tourism Development is understood as “the optimal use of natural, cultural, social and financial resources for national development on an equitable and self-sustaining basis to provide a unique visitor experience and an improved quality of life through partnerships among government, the private sector and communities according to CTO Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework of 2008.

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