In a presentation entitled “Adopting Geotourism Strategies for Sustainable Tourism Development,” Deirdre Shurland, Director of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), analyzed the case of Dominica, which is currently pursuing destination certification under the Green Globe 21 Community standard and as reported in a 2003 study funded by USAID and conducted by PA Consulting Group.
She highlighted the challenges faced by the island, and the opportunities presented by this certification. Shurland then brought to light some of the challenges faced by Caribbean destinations around the region and emphasized the necessity for committed leadership to drive the charge for tourism sustainability.
“Green Globe 21 destination certification can offer critical opportunities for Dominica to reverse the declining trend in visitor arrivals since 1999. Everyone should assist, wherever possible, to ensure that Dominica successfully attains its objective,” says Shurland.
Relatively undeveloped, lacking main tourism infrastructures and resources, and suffering from a poorly defined country-identity in the tourism market, Dominica would benefit significantly from marketing, environmental, social and political opportunities of the Green Globe 21 certification. These benefits include:
marketing: increasing awareness of Dominica as an international case study on sustainable tourism for small island states;
environmental: enhance the quality of its nature-based product through the provision of accurate data for decision-making;
social: create island-wide environmental awareness by linking the growth of tourism to the quality of the environment, and stimulate the participation and integration of local communities into the tourism sector;
political: institutionalization of a permanent dialogue between public and private sectors with regards to the development of tourism.
At a regional level, similar challenges faced by some Caribbean destinations include weakness of public/private partnerships; lack of infrastructure; insufficient awareness at political and communities level; insufficient financial and technical resources; and tourism product sameness.
Shurland also demonstrated the similarities between sustainable tourism principles and strategies, such as Green Globe 21 certification – a program endorsed and promoted by CAST – and geotourism principles.
GREEN GLOBE 21 is a global benchmarking and certification program managed by Green Globe Asia Pacific (GGAP) from Canberra, Australia, which facilitates sustainable travel and tourism for consumers, companies and communities.
This global program is based on Agenda 21 and the principles for Sustainable Development endorsed by 182 governments at the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992.
The Caribbean is the region that holds the highest number of Green Globe 21 properties worldwide, with 66 certified and 12 benchmarked properties.
Delegates from across the Caribbean, the United States, Central and South America, the Pacific, and Europe delved into the theme “Environment: Our Partner in Development” over a three-day meeting.