Ecotourism in the Caribbean, a major challenge

Posted on | Darys Estrella

Thinking about sustainable ecotourism is possible, and this challenge involves concrete actions on two specific issues: Generation of employment and preservation of the environment.

Desert, paradisiacal beaches, fertile valleys, majestic mountains, crystalline waterfalls, the first city in America, a whale sanctuary, a lake 42 meters below sea level, the warmth of its people and its diversity, its rhythm of merengue and bachata … Definitely, the Dominican Republic has it all. And it is located on one of the Caribbean islands.

The offer is extensive. That is why the quality, development and sustainability of the ecotourism sector in the Caribbean is a major challenge.

Thinking about sustainable ecotourism is possible, and this challenge involves concrete actions on two specific issues:

Job creation: The tourism sector, in general, is an industry marked by temporary, high or low, if we analyze it from the point of view of external demand. The strengthening of domestic tourism means a great opportunity for development and, therefore, for job creation.

According to data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), this activity represents the main economic force for a large number of developing countries and generates one out of every 11 jobs in the world.

In the Caribbean there is no exception. Tourism companies, due to the nature of their activities (based on services and personal attention), require a greater volume of employees than other sectors whose processes have become more technical. Most of the jobs generated by this activity are characterized by a low level of qualification. An important challenge, in this sense, is the creation of quality jobs.

Environment: Tourism activities have an impact on ecosystems, which is why it is necessary to promote efficient management of resources and promote measures against climate change.

It should be considered from the source from which the water is taken to irrigate the golf courses, to the supply of the hotels, without jeopardizing the supply of the communities surrounding the tourist projects, the type of fish and seafood that is served in restaurants, respect for the established closed seasons, the enjoyment of nature, but with the promotion of its protection and conservation, and with the promotion of products and services with a low environmental footprint.

Beyond exploitation, it is essential that the sector ensure the preservation of destinations and the promotion of sustainable and smart cities, which benefit both the local population and tourists.

In addition to the pending challenges, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are presented as a tool to align the route and achieve the goals established by the tourism sector. The

SDGs call for the implementation of measures designed to end poverty, protect the planet and guarantee world peace. Its application in the tourism sector is directly related to inclusive economic development, sustainable consumption and adequate conservation of the coasts:

Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8): The UN recommends developing and implementing policies aimed at promoting sustainable tourism that creates new jobs and promotes local culture and products.

Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12): The sector must develop and apply instruments aimed at guaranteeing sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Underwater life (SDG 14): The Caribbean has a vast and extensive marine ecosystem. That is why its preservation has an important role. This principle focuses on the conservation and responsible management of practices such as fishing, aquaculture and beach tourism.

Despite the fact that in the Caribbean there is still a long way to go in terms of sustainable tourism, both the population and the companies in the sector are increasingly aware of the advantages that this brings. In fact, the demand for sustainable destinations has grown exponentially in recent years, and is expected to continue to trend upward.