Barbados’ Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary with Responsibility for Climate Change, Small Island Developing States and Law of the Sea, Senator Elizabeth Thompson, shed some light recently on the impact of climate change and the Caribbean tourism economy at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) 2nd Visit Barbados Stakeholder forum. The event was held that the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre with tourism players in discussions that also included Barbados as a sustainable tourism destination.
Senator Thompson explained that by 2050, the tourism sector will be responsible for 40% of the Caribbean job market. This will amount to around US$22 million according to data from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Currently, tourism in the Caribbean as a whole contributes US$24 billion on an annual basis.
The Ambassador shared with the audience:“As stakeholders, as tourism planners, let’s just ask ourselves what percentage growth can we anticipate and project for the sector over the same period, because based on the figures, the revenues will now keep rising, or they will be significantly impacted by the climate change adaptations and mitigation spend.
“The only way to change that equation is by building resilience. While we talk about building resilience in the tourism sector, the reality is that because tourism revenues are so integrated into the economy, with jobs directly and indirectly, the region has to build resilience beyond the tourism sector.”
Ambassador Thompson further explained that building resilience in the tourism sector will involve several factors:
-Transitioning to renewable energy resources.
-Upgrading food security through advanced agricultural output technology.
-Addressing water scarcity.
-Finding ways to guard against the negative effects of climate change.
-Protecting coastlines and coral reefs.
The Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), Mr. Jens Thraenhart, also present at the form, said that 69% of travelers want more sustainable travel options. He further shared that according to Consumer Tourism Trends, 62% of travelers are willing to pay more for sustainable travel, and between 73 to 78% would opt for less crowded destinations where it is their intent to support local businesses.
Mr. Thraenhart said BTMI has a sustainable tourism project with a standing Green Code which addresses such issues as food waste, single-use plastics, carbon offsetting, education via workshops, and investment in sustainability. He further stated that for Barbados specifically, the goal before them is to be seen as an all-year travel destination which will consistently support sustainability and growth thereby having a positive impact on the economy which will enhance optimal and continual addressing of climate change.
The United Nation (UN) Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”