Letters & Opinion

Promoting Sustainable Development for Future Growth

By Reginald Andrew

SAINT Lucia has come a long way from being just another Caribbean Isle known widely for its lovely beaches, sea and sun – and even more lately, a pristine Honeymoon Paradise.

Fair Helen is being touted for its Adventure Experience on the heels of winning the recent World Travel Awards title of the ‚ÄėCaribbean‚Äôs Leading Adventure Tourism Destination‚Äô twice, and added to the accolades the award for the ‚ÄėCaribbean‚Äôs Leading Nature Destination‚Äô.

Tourism officials are pushing the ‚ÄėEco Tourism‚Äô mantra with greater alacrity now and the message is being spread across the country, to incorporate the communities and the average person keen on gaining income from the hospitality sector.

Not only does the eco-tourism notion help to elevate the status of the country, but it is also viewed as an opportunity to raise awareness about the preservation of this ‚Äėisland home‚Äô in the Lesser Antilles and the wider sub-region.

Albeit, safeguarding one‚Äôs habitat does not require an award title to underline the significance of this movement or developmental thrust. As succinctly as an Indian Chief put it, in paraphrase: ‚ÄúAs much as you give to the land is as much as you will receive from it‚ÄĚ.

This only goes to emphasize the need for people to make a more conscious effort to play their part in helping with the conservation of this unique land mass in the wider region.

At a recent forum to highlight Tourism Week, to be observed from September 24 to 30, the Tourism Minister drove home the point that the preservation of one’s habitat should be foremost within the consciousness of the citizenry.

He noted that this notion should become a daily undertaking, not just in terms of acquiring monetary gains or income, but a standard practise of life to be taken up by all and sundry in the respective communities across the country.

In that context, the Community Tourism Agency (CTA) has been brought into play within this overall thrust towards creating ‚ÄúAuthentic Saint Lucia Experiences‚ÄĚ that world travelers can enjoy. The CTA has tapped into the communities with its team of resource persons and are providing training workshops and consultations for potential ‚Äėhospitality sector‚Äô entrepreneurs or entities eager to take in a piece of the eco-tourism pie.

It has been noted that now there is a different trend of visitors or travelers going out on vacation; and these persons want to get immersed in the ‚Äėcultural experiences‚Äô, as well as the history and knowledge of the island‚Äôs nature reserves and other sight-seeing adventures.

Initial steps are being taken to recognize the input of persons involved in community tourism or in the wider eco-tourism aspect and a Certificate of Merit or sorts will be given to persons or groups that incorporate properties, sites, tours or hotels as a statement ‚Äúthat they are adhering to sustainable development principles and practices‚ÄĚ.

On a wider scale though, and to foster greater outreach and consciousness of this ‚Äėeco-tourism‚Äô concept it is imperative to get involved in such discourse. And stemming from the secondary schools, there is a ‚Äúnecessity‚ÄĚ for tutelage on pertinent issues that incorporates ‚Äúfundamental principles‚ÄĚ, such as climate change and its impact on the environment and the essentials pertaining to adherence to sustainable development.

Notably, along those lines, the Tourism Minister emphasized the importance within this transition of the evolving ‚Äúcultural change‚ÄĚ. He noted that this younger generation or Generation X are experiencing such developmental trends due to the knowledge that has been conveyed over the years.

Moving forward, there needs to be a ‚Äúgreater sensitization‚ÄĚ towards preservation of the environment, and placing focus on the larger issue of climate change where smaller island states like Saint Lucia are ‚Äúnegligible contributors‚ÄĚ, yet still these Small Island Developing States (SIDs) are those most severely impacted and are the ‚Äúbiggest sufferers‚ÄĚ in this conundrum.

The process of ‚Äúsensitization‚ÄĚ needs to begin from the school level, and as a civilization (society) the onus is on all of us to preserve the wider planet.

Saint Lucia is at the core of this sustainable development process in the sub-region and wider outreach and with the accolades pouring in, particularly with local hospitality entities such as Fond Doux garnering multiple awards in that field, the ball is in our court towards taking that step to forge a sustainable, thriving environment that can be preserved and passed on for generations to come.

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