The Major Role of Sustainable Tourism in the Caribbean

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”

– Robert Swan

Sustainable tourism, eco-friendly travel, green tours, conservation… Where do we even begin? What does it all mean? These words are used interchangeably to highlight “outdoorsy” nature-based activities and sometimes just seem like marketing buzzwords. However sustainable tourism is a whole lot more than an Instagram of a blogger on a hike with a reusable water bottle.

Sustainable tourism is a growing trend where people are incorporating their environmental views and values into their travels. Selecting destinations, accommodation and tours based on their environmental and socio-cultural impact.

Sustainability refers to maintaining the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of a system for years and generations to come. If one of the three pillars is not considered, the system it is not sustainable.  It may be equitable or viable but not sustainable over a long period of time and in a way that protects local communities, culture, wildlife, forests or beaches.

Sustainability graph
Graph showing the components of sustainability

Sustainability has a major role to play in the Caribbean. Home to beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches and friendly, innovative people, with tourism being the main source of income for most countries in the region. Climate change is a major risk and concern and as the Caribbean looks to rebuild after the string of devastating hurricanes, incorporating sustainability will benefit locals and the environment whilst also tapping into a new tourism market.

Dominica has been a pioneer in sustainable travel in the Caribbean, building its tourism brand on wildlife and ecosystem conservation. Featured as trip savvy’s number 1 ecotourism destination in the Caribbean. After the major destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, tourism will be an integral component of the re-development process over the next few years. With reconstruction of hotels and guest houses benefiting from sustainability initiatives that will build resilience and get the ‘the Nature Isle’ back on its feet. Other islands need to take a leaf out of Dominica’s book, raising their standards and prioritising more than profits.  Keeping sustainably minded travelers in the Caribbean region, protecting our environment and expanding the tourism product we can offer.

Coral Reef Restoration Barbados
Coral Reef Restoration Alliance – Corall Barbados growing coral reef to be replanted

Local organisations in Barbados such as the Coral Reef Restoration Alliance (pictured above) grow and replant coral to restore marine ecosystems and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project which plays a pivotal role in protecting sea turtles and their nests are great examples of sustainable tourism in action. Showing how sustainable travel does not have to be about choosing a new sustainable destination but selecting a tour like the Barbados Sea Turtle Project on your next holiday. It is our job as Caribbean citizens, hoteliers, tour operators and entrepreneurs to consider how we incorporate tourism in a way that empowers our own people and protects these beautiful islands we call home.

Tourism will never be 100% sustainable, people will always have an impact on the places they go and the people they meet. Sustainable travel highlights that this impact is not at the expense of the environment or the people that live there. When you plan your next holiday; maybe you choose a destination you know protects and preserves wildlife or re-invests money to empower people in a local community or maybe you choose accommodation which runs on renewable energy or eat at a restaurant that buys local or seasonal produce from nearby farmers. These things seem so trivial but can have a life-changing impact, with the money you spend having a much further reach than you could ever imagine.

 

 

Sources:
Top 24 eco-tourism destinations of 2017 (which has some Caribbean features as well) https://www.everysteph.com/top-ecotourism-destinations-in-the-world/

Why Sustainable Tourism should matter to you https://www.dangerous-business.com/2016/09/sustainable-tourism/

Barbados Sea Turtle Project http://www.barbadosseaturtles.org

Corall Barbados https://www.facebook.com/CORALLBarbados/

SaveSave

Bianca Cave

Bianca has a BSc in Biomedical Science and has just completed an MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of Sussex in the UK. The focus of her masters dissertation was on renewable energy in Barbados and would consider this one of her main areas of interest. As well as, ways we as an island can come together and empower each other to create a more resilient and sustainable community. She hopes to go back to the UK and work for a few years in both development organisations and sustainable technology companies before returning home to Barbados.

bianca has 3 posts and counting.See all posts by bianca

Leave a Reply