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News > Latin America

St. Kitts and Nevis Promote Sustainable Tourism by Adapting to Climate Change

  • The view of St. Kitts and Nevis.

    The view of St. Kitts and Nevis. | Photo: Wikimedia

Published 25 August 2017

“It [climate change] is an opportunity to rethink the traditional tourism business model,” said Sustainable Tourism Coordinator Annette Esquibel.

Although climate change is having a negative global impact, it can be used an opportunity to promote sustainable tourism in small island developing states like St. Kitts And Nevis, the country's officials said. 

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The United Nations has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to look at how the industry is affected by climate change and finding ways for it to adapt to the impacts of rising global temperatures. 

“It climate change) is an opportunity to rethink the traditional tourism business model,” said Sustainable Tourism Coordinator Annette Esquibel on the government’s weekly radio programme on Wednesday.

“Instead of only relying on resorts and sun, sea and sand, you have an opportunity to really diversify your tourism product and make more eco-tourists, more rain forest-focused or even have philanthropy tourism.”

She added that one of the ideas is to start a program where tourists can come and help with the coral regeneration as part of their visitor experience.

“That will be really unique, really beneficial and it would put St. Kitts and Nevis on the map in a totally different realm than we are right now,” Esquibel said. 

Diannille Taylor-Williams, assistant secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, shared similar sentiments, noting that it can indeed prove beneficial to the federation.

“With the coral regeneration, it also impacts livelihoods because when you have the coral reefs, it means more fish; that means we get to eat fish, and lobsters would grow,” she said, adding that tourists request lobsters when they visit the shores. “We also have the Sargassum seaweed situation and that is another opportunity for enterprise in terms of creating a new business.” 

St. Kitts and Nevis will host the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum from September 6 to September 8 under the theme “Good for Us, Better for All.” 

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Taylor-Williams said the forum will be an invaluable experience for various tourism stakeholders, including students and local small business owners.

“We are encouraging all tourism stakeholders to be involved,” she said. “In a small economy such as ours, everybody is a tourism stakeholder.”

According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism contributed to 7 percent of St. Kitts and Nevis’ total gross domestic product and supported 6.9 percent of its total employment in 2015. 

Taylor-Williams pointed out St. Kitts and Nevis can have a lasting economic driver in the area of tourism by protecting the environment and the Ministry of Tourism is employing sustainable development goals to ensure the industry continue to thrive.

“Tourism is seen as an economic driver, so we have to be mindful of these sustainable development goals,” she said.

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