Intrigued by the beauty of enchanting blue waters, catching up with the white sandy shores, the green cover of the forests encasing villages, birds soaring high, free in the deep blue skies, the Caribbean is the treasure to the tourist destinations across the globe. The Gulf of Mexico, North, South and Central America forming more than seven thousand islands, reefs, Islets and cays in Caribbean, associating it with the tempting imagery one could hardly resist to even giving a thought to. Bountiful of an expansive range of ecosystems, the region is a hotspot of biodiversity dwelling in the lap of Mother Nature. Such a tantalising and abundant treasury of the region makes it the most appreciated and revered tourist destination in the world, that somehow, on the contrary, poses threat to the riches to the expositions of the effects of climate change and other human interventions.
With the bountiful treasures engulfed in the region, tourism marks the backbone of the majority of Caribbean islands, with an upward shift in the tourism industry and an ever increasing reliance on tourism of the economy of the nations. The success of the tourism sector is directly proportional to the state of the environment, the downfall in one, results in the decline of the other. Thus, it becomes mandatory for the Caribbean countries to keenly and earnestly pave way for sustainable tourism.
The term sustainability largely focuses on the generations meeting the needs of the present without putting the same for the future generations on stake. The term ‘sustainable’ has recently found its pairing with tourism that makes sense with the concept of visiting a place and making efforts to incorporate positive impact on the environment, economy and the society. Sustainable tourism lays emphasis on tourism that is nature-based and culture-based and that respects both the local people and the tourist, the environ and the cultural heritage of the place.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since its very inception has paved way for the strategies and plans to be employed by its member states for the development of the nature without hampering it for the future comers. With the collaborated and concerted efforts of the nations across the globe, the United Nations 70th General Assembly, citing the need and urgency of a protected and sustained environ, designated year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. The move provided the opportunity to the governments of the Caribbean nations to further elaborate on the move and generate awareness among the people regarding the significance of sustainable tourism in the region with the helping hand from the public and private sector stakeholders and the general public, providing a catalyst effect on the overall sustainable development of the economy.
Marked and packaged with the three ‘S’ – sun, sand and sea, the region’s tourism product has been attracting tourists contributing a major part of the GDP to the tourism sector. Stepping ahead in the concerned cause, Jamaica, that contributes a major part of its GDP to the tourism industry in the Caribbean region has showcased its move with the introduction of the new Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre at the University of West Indies in Kingston that aims to help generate awareness among the destinations all across the globe to “rethink” tourism and employ efforts taking a call in the wake of the rising global disturbances and anthropogenic occurrences.
Project Caribbean Strategy for Sustainable Blue Tourism, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, another move towards the protection of the region, was launched in February 2019 in Sainte-Luce, Martinique, in line with the need for sustainable tourism aiming to bring together helping hands from local and international partners to foster the tourists’ appeal in the Caribbean region while simultaneously paving way for the protection, conservation and preservation of the natural environment. Apart from these, the Nature Conservancy Caribbean Challenge has been launched to conserve at least 20 per cent of the marine environment, the riches of the Caribbean region, till 2020 with the collaborated efforts of the tourists. The NAM Member States and other nations across the globe have collaborated with an aim to foster the employment of such measures resulting in sustainable economic growth creating green jobs in return, protecting the environment from the climate action and promoting peace and security in the region.
Tourism, the heart of the Caribbean economy is the most attracted tourism destination and thus needs to incorporate the means to preserve its culture and heritage for the generations to come.