What is this Hotel’s carbon footprint? Is that beach blue flag certified? Are there any eco-friendly attractions available? What is a Jamaican tour operator to do when faced with these questions?
Protecting the environment or to use the buzz phrase…going green, is on the minds of citizens around the world. These same concerned citizens’ travel and are looking for travel destinations that are proactive in preserving the environment. Tourist markets that can present themselves as eco-friendly, carbon neutral destinations will be the ones attracting this ever increasing market segment. Jamaica has been a leader in the Caribbean tourism industry. In order to maintain that leadership position, embracing an eco-friendly environment will be crucial in sustaining that lead.
Jamaica is a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The UNWTO is an agency of the United Nations. It is a global forum for tourism policy issues, and promotes the development of responsible tourism, with special attention on developing nations. Jamaica has been a member since 1975.
In response to the 2008 UNWTO world tourism day theme “Tourism Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change”, the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism took the step to host a seminar and exhibition. The seminar presented the challenges and opportunities Jamaica faces as a result of climate change. The seminar theme: Climate Change and the Bottom-line….a strategic Business Outlook for Jamaica’s Tourism Sector, was well received by the Jamaican tourist industry. Well over 100 hoteliers and tour operators were present.
The program was stacked with key presenters, including; Mr. Basil Smith, Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board; Mr. Wayne Cummings, President, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association; The Honourable Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism; and Dr. Murray Simpson, Oxford University Center for the Environment. The overwhelming focus of the presentations revolved around the premise that as a top tourism destination, Jamaica must respond to the challenges faced by becoming carbon neutral.
Jamaican tourism has shown that it is adaptable and continually responds to our rapidly changing world. Going green, is a key component of the next phase of change in the industry. And as the industry evolves, The fact that the Ministry of Tourism and the Jamaica Tourist Board have the insight to move forward with this initiative, it is evident that Jamaica will continue to be the tourism leader of the Caribbean is poised to continue to lead the region in Tourism.
World Tourism day 2008 was held September 26th at the Ritz Carton Golf and Spa Resort, Montego Bay. Additional information on this seminar is available at www.jtbonline.org.
Visit www.unwto.org for more information on the United Nations World Tourism Organization.