Geotourism concept originator wants the Caribbean to protect its character in order to continue to enjoy the benefits of tourism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Caribbean tourism planners and policy makers are being urged to use tourism to support and develop the Region’s character and heritage.

The man who originated the concept of geotourism, Jonathan Tourtellot, has said that the Caribbean tourism product will be a lot more competitive if its social fabric, ecology, architecture, cuisine, natural beauty and its heritage are protected. Geotourism is described as “best practice” tourism that sustains, or even enhances, the geographical character of a place, such as its culture, environment, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

Mr. Tourtellot said that if tourism is used to support, and not erode, these attributes, the Caribbean will have a competitive advantage.

“It provides market differentiation,” said Mr. Tourtellot, the director and geotourism editor of National Geographic Traveler, a magazine published by the National Geographic Society (NGS) in the United States.

Mr. Tourtellot – also the director of the NGS’s Centre for Sustainable Destinations – said he was aware of the need to balance economic development with protecting the character of the Caribbean. However, he said it was not impossible to achieve this balance.

“It’s not a zero-sum game. You can do both,” he said, adding that if the Caribbean fails to protect its character it will lose its pride in the short term and, in the long term, its ability to increase revenue from tourism.

Mr. Tourtellot will be the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-11) which will be held in Barbados from 9-12 May 2010.

An exciting programme of general discussions, workshops and study tours is being finalised for the conference themed, Keeping the Right Balance: Creating Opportunities Through a World Class Sustainable Tourism Product..

The 11th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism is being organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with the Barbados Ministry of Tourism. It is part of the information dissemination and regional awareness component of CTO’s Strategy for Sustainable Tourism. It looks at how member states can design and implement sustainable tourism policies and programmes, offering a regional forum for information exchange on the successes and pitfalls of national, regional and international initiatives.

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