SUSTAINABLE TOURISM NEEDED
Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), David Comissiong is putting a case for Barbados and the wider Caribbean region to truly embrace the concept of sustainable tourism.
In a statement issued recently, Ambassador Comissiong said Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean should be seeking to establish sustainable hotels and sustainable tourism industries and he has set out some 13 indicators for what a Barbadian or Caribbean sustainable hotel should look like. Ambassador Comissiong a longtime advocate for the sustainable tourism development, is suggesting that a sustainable hotel would be one that is locally owned; employs a large percentage of local workers; is designed in a manner that supports and respects the vernacular architectural style; features local art, craft, and furniture in its furnishings and decorations and sources most of its food inputs from the local farming community.
Additionally, he said that it would also be a hotel that provides employment opportunities for local artistes and entertainers; features and develops the national cuisine; utilises solar and photovoltaic energy sources and facilitates commercial participation by local taxi drivers, craft sellers and beach vendors. He went further and identified four more criteria to be met to be a sustainable hotel – the conservation of the local water supply by catching and using the hotel’s runoff rainwater; not encroaching on the beach; encouraging guests to experience the entire island; and developing a constructive relationship with the residents of the surrounding or adjacent community.
“Such a sustainable hotel would be a real blessing to any country in which it is located, for it would be a genuine instrument of national development – creating backward and forward linkages with other sectors of the national economy, generating income and career opportunities for citizens, and contributing to the consolidation of the national identity and culture. It would be interesting to see the results if our Ministry of Tourism was to undertake a study of the hotels of Barbados with a view to determining to what extent they exhibit the features of the ideal sustainable hotel. Indeed, I wonder how many of our hotels would be able to boast of even 50 percent of the above mentioned sustainable hotel indicators,” he said.
Ambassador Comissiong made the point while noting that sustainable hotels are the cornerstones of a sustainable tourism industry. He explained that industry would not only be focused on the traditional sea and sun, but recognise that the entire island – its landscape, history, heritage, arts and culture, is the tourism product.
“Clearly, a Caribbean sustainable tourism industry would be centred around an appreciation of the particular island’s unique cultural heritage, and around hotels and other tourist facilities that reflect the unique culture, personality, and sense of hospitality of the national population. Of course, other relevant factors would be the maintenance of a secure and relatively crime-free environment; the construction of hurricane resilient facilities; the provision of a high standard of public utilities, inclusive of good quality potable water; an efficient solid waste management system; and a rigorous and effective system of beach and other environmental protection, conservation and management,” he added.
Expounding on his idea in an interview with The Barbados Advocate recently, Ambassador Comissiong said the ACS has long been pushing the idea of sustainable tourism and there needs to be widespread buy-in of the idea, as the hotel and the tourist industry can be a “real engine of indigenous development”. To that end, he feels that Barbados would be well advised to develop sustainable hotels and a sustainable tourism industry, which would bring real benefit to the country, as opposed to the resources associated with tourism going elsewhere.
“I think it is something that the country needs to think about now there are all of these proposals pertaining to future hotel development in Barbados. I think this is a conversation that we need,” he maintained.
Comissiong added that such is a conversation we should be having especially as we approach the New Year and prepare to embark on the activities for Vision 2020 and the We Gatherin’ initiative, where Barbadians around the world are being encouraged to come home.
“Next year is the year of We Gatherin’, and this is supposed to be a year we engage in some inward introspection, where we seek to rediscover who we really are as a people and a nation and where we are going. For me development has always been self-development, it needs to come from within and it needs to be very much based on our people,” he added. (JRT)
Source: The Barbados Advocate (Article); Business Barbados (Photo)