Addressing members of the local and international press last week, at the Almond Beach Village in Barbados, Sir Royston O. Hopkin KCMG, Chairman of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), appealed the regional tourism industry to re-dedicate itself to pursuing and achieving sustainability and excellence. Sir Royston reminded of the warnings issued by key reports released by renowned organizations in 2004, which describe declining Caribbean destination and resource base quality.These include the National Geographic’s Traveler magazine’s report on the top 100 global destinations (March 2004), the WTTC report on “The Caribbean: Impact on Jobs and the Economy” commissioned by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) (June 2004), and especially, the World Resources Institute’s report on “Caribbean Reefs at Risk” (Sept. 2004).
All three reports have concluded that unless the Caribbean tourism industry pays urgent attention to the accelerated deterioration of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the quality of the tourism experience and product, as well as the competitiveness of the region on the world tourism market, will continue to erode.
Sir Royston also indicated that in 2005, CAST will continue to ventilate these issues through its advocacy and awareness-raising programs and by focusing on high value added training and education of tourism staff and businesses. “Human Resources are the key to achieve protection of the environment,” said Sir Royston.