BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Tourism industry specialists and policy makers have been told that going green is no longer enough if the Caribbean wants to develop a world-class sustainable tourism product.
The geotourism editor of National Geographic Traveler, Jonathan Tourtellot, told delegates gathered for the 11th annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, that the development of tourism that enhances, among other things, the geographical character of a place and the well being of its residents, is the way to go.
In delivering an hour-long feature presentation entitled, “Sustainable Tourism: Going Beyond Green,” Mr. Tourtellot explained the significance of extending the concept of sustainable tourism beyond a simple focus on the environment and meeting 21st-century travelers’ increasing need for authenticity.
“Increasingly, leisure travelers want authenticity, experiences. Quality of place is a selling point,” he told the approximately 200 industry officials and media gathered from the Caribbean, North America, and the UK. “Destinations that think of the whole place as the tourism product will rally support for good stewardship.”
As proof that this market is lucrative, Mr. Tourtellot cited a recent National Geographic Traveler survey, which found that 74 percent of American travelers are in favor of geotourism.
He recommended a four-way path to a lucrative “place-based” sustainable product. These include identifying and sustaining what’s distinctive about a place, as well as developing the product and marketing its geotourism assets.
The feature speaker also described the three main categories of modern-day travelers – the touring-style travelers searching for destinations’ natural authenticity, the rest and recreation-seeking travelers, and the entertainment-focused travelers, predominantly interested in casinos and fast-food rather than architecture and fine cuisine – suggesting that tourism planners should be mindful of these categories when seeking to develop a world-class sustainable product.
The 11th Annual Caribbean Conference is being held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre and is organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Barbados Ministry of Tourism.