News Americas, LILLENDAL, Guyana, Mon. April 16, 2012: Former Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo is urging regional tourism officials to look beyond the “easy” and “mundane” and think outide the proverbial box when it comes to sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.
Jagdeo, who was supposed to keynote the conference but who instead addressed the less than 200 delegates gathered at the Guyana International Conference Center via video as part of STC 13 due to his role as a good will ambassador for the forest regions of Congo, Borneo-Meknong and Amazonia, said the region must ensure the tourism product offered is “sustainable” and “viable” consistently.
Pointing to the four degrees rise in global temperature, Jagdeo said the Caribbean’s future is at risk from climate change. He agreed with experts that it is probably one of the more important issues impacting the region to date, more than economic shifts, since the Caribben could lose most of its beaches, a major tourism attraction, while its corals and forests will die.
“Therefore, that is the future that we are contemplating right now. And it is incumbent that tourism officials, many of who are very influential, help Governments to be aware of the problem because we have too many Governments that are sleep – walking on this issue,” said the former President.
He urged the region to become more competitive in competing for the tourist dollar by combining the natural beauty of the sun, sand and sea tourism with other forms of tourism, including medical and l while also trgeting inter-regional travel through the promotion of cheaper flights and an easier immigration process.
The UN Champion of the Environment winner added tht there needs to be an expansion in preparing tourism operators to target the developing markets of China, Brazil and India on the language and culture of these new emerging markets so there is not sole reliance on the tourism dollars of the developed world visitor.
“We have to be much more aggressive in how we pursue those markets because the only way we can be sustainable or economically viable, is if we aggressively pursue those markets,” said Jagdeo.
“What I’m advocating for is using, combining our traditional tourism products, with products, new products. I think a combination of the two will ensure that remain viable in the future and that we remain attractive, very competitive,” he urged delegates.
The conference continues on April 17th through the 18th. Delegates will be involved in study tours to experience various local models of sustainable tourism at work on April 17th.