Scientists Create First-Ever Guidelines to Help Caribbean Tourism
“Our growing alliance with the tourism industry is key to our mission in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Rob Brumbaugh, Executive Director of TNC’s Caribbean Division. “Because tourism in the region depends on a thriving natural world, there is a strong economic incentive to support conservation. But, beyond that, one thing we learned in creating these new guidelines is that many tourism leaders simply want to “give back” to nature and know that consumers do too. Thus, industry can be a powerful ally in our work and, in fact, has great potential to accelerate coral conservation. Tourism companies often have facilities near reef sites that can accommodate restoration projects; nature enthusiasts on staff, such as diving instructors, who can serve as “conservation ambassadors”; communication tools, such as airport signage, which reach millions of people; and relationships with local governments and communities that can garner support for sustainable ocean use.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig believes that now is an especially important time for tourism to play a vital role in ocean conservation. She explains: “Tourism in the Caribbean and around the world has suffered a devastating downturn with the pandemic. But as the industry regains its footing, there is a key window of opportunity to attract a wider group of consumers and protect the resources on which tourism depends by providing sustainable travel options and engaging in meaningful conservation. . This is where the advice of our conservation partners becomes essential. Many tourism businesses take a sustainable approach and want to actively contribute to coral conservation, but they lack the technical expertise. Or they have completed a pilot reef restoration project but lack the capacity to scale up the work. As we continue to share scientific research and best practices, and address the conservation challenges facing the tourism sector, CHTA and CAST aim to transform travel in the Caribbean, so that it not only exists in harmony with our natural world, but also that they benefit from it.
CAST President, Jamaican hotelier Kyle Mais; the founding co-president of CAST and president of Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic, Frank Rainieri; and Jake Kheel, vice president of Fundación Grupo Puntacana, a nonprofit entity of Grupo Puntacana and a regional pioneer in coral restoration, agreed that coral restoration is changing rapidly and requires an “everyone on the ground” approach. bridge” to intensify the much-needed recovery of the Caribbean coral reefs. They support Guide to Coral Reef Restoration for the Tourism Sector as a crucial tool that shares experiences and best practices to enable the tourism industry to participate more actively in reef conservation and expand the region’s capacity to restore coral reefs.