Caribbean Islands plan to climate-proof their tourism industry

According to tourism officials, the Caribbean tourism industry faces significant future threats related to both competitiveness and climate change impacts.

Visitor expenditures also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5% to reach 35.5 billion dollars. And the outlook for 2017 remains rosy, with expected increases of 2.5 and 3.5% in long-stay arrivals and between 1.5% and 2.5% in cruise passenger arrivals.

Dominican Senator Francine Baron said, “The impact of more severe hurricanes and the destruction of our most valued tourism assets, our beaches and coral reefs and the damage to our infrastructure threaten to reverse the developmental gains that we have made. Our efforts to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations cannot be achieved without dealing with the causes of climate change.”

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has received a much-needed boost with a 460,000 euro grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to implement a project to increase the Caribbean tourism sector’s resilience to natural hazards and climate-related risks.

CTO’s Secretary General, Hugh Riley said, “Global climate change and its impacts, including the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, pose a significant risk to the Caribbean region and threaten the sustainability of Caribbean tourism. The CTO is pleased to have the support of the CDB to implement this project which will contribute to enhancing the resiliency, sustainability and competitiveness of the region’s tourism sector.”

CDB President, Dr Warren Smith noted that the tourism sector makes an enormous contribution to the region’s socioeconomic development. He said, “Tourism, given its multi-sectoral nature is a very effective tool for promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction. However, maintaining this critical role calls for adequate safeguards to be erected against the enormous threats that climate change and natural hazards pose to the sustainability of our region.”