C’bean tourism conference to focus on climate change, other ‘pressing’ issues

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says some of the most pressing issues facing Caribbean tourism will be discussed at a regional tourism conference here in August.

The 2019 Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019) is scheduled for August 27-29 and will be held under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification”.

The organisers said the conference, which is being held in collaboration with the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), will allow industry experts to address the urgent need for a transformational, disruptive, and regenerative tourism product to meet the ever-rising challenges.

“Caribbean economies are facing tremendous pressure to respond to changes that are impacting the business of tourism and innovations are required to address urgent matters such as climate risk, waste reduction, community involvement and the so-called internet of things,” says CTO’s sustainable tourism development specialist, Amanda Charles.

“STC 2019 will be pivotal in bringing to the fore such issues that impact on the future sustainability and growth of Caribbean tourism.”

St Vincent and the Grenadines will host STC amidst an intensified national thrust towards a greener, more climate resilient country, including the construction of a geothermal plant here to complement the country’s hydro and solar energy capacity and the restoration of the Ashton Lagoon in Union Island.

SVGTA chief executive officer, Glen Beache notes the importance of hosting the conference at a time when the United Nations is painting a grim picture of the earth’s natural life support systems, including its ocean life and natural ecosystems.

“The need for Caribbean destinations to find development models that lean heavily towards destination sustainability is essential and so we must pay careful attention to the way we plan, manage and market our destinations’ tourism development,” Beache said.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines is pleased to be hosting STC 2019, at a time when we are seeking to maintain the balance and maintain SVG’s reputation as an unspoilt destination”.

CTO said a primary concern and priority for the Caribbean is enforcing greater preparedness and resilience to climate change. Of equal importance are the changes in consumer consciousness which require the region’s tourism sector to be more astute as it relates to tourism planning and the management of resources.

Regional benchmarks and best practices in community-based tourism, financial technologies for medium, small and micro enterprises, business innovation and destination competitiveness will be in focus during the two days of discussion. Participants will also experience a full day of study tours to immerse themselves in local communities.

It said speakers will address ways the region can respond to challenges and opportunities presented by increasing competition, shifts in consumer demands and purchasing preferences driven by social media and networking platforms, the sharing economy, and financial technologies.

“The experts will explore how this can be done in a way that enhances local livelihoods through the creation of new, varied, and innovative tourism experiences using the natural and man-made assets of Caribbean society,” the CTO added.

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