BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has received a record number of entries for its sustainable tourism awards programme which it organizes in collaboration with TravelMole, the online community for the travel and tourism industry. And, for the first time, awards will be given in each of the categories.
Nearly thirty projects and programmes were submitted from ten CTO member countries spanning all four language groups. The countries included Aruba, Barbados, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
The winners will be announced and awards presented at a special luncheon on 18 April at the 14th annual CTO Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC-14) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. The conference runs from 15-18 April.
Among the awards to be presented is the inaugural Destination Stewardship Award which will go to a member destination that is making solid strides towards sustainable tourism management at the destination level through a number of integrated initiatives and programmes. In addition, the CTO will present the Sustainable Accommodation Award, Community Benefit Award, Heritage Protection Award and Biodiversity Conservation Award, as well as the marquis Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award.
“We are really pleased with the enthusiasm that both our member countries and our partners are showing for this award programme, evidenced by the fact that we received a record 29 entries this year,” said Gail Henry, the CTO’s sustainable tourism product specialist.
“Many of the submissions are extremely strong and compelling, an encouraging sign that the Caribbean tourism sector is placing increasing attention on sustainability,” she added.
The submissions are being judged by an esteemed panel of tourism specialists – Ena Harvey, the hemispheric specialist for agro tourism at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); Seleni Matus, the senior advisor on destinations at Sustainable Travel International and Ms. Henry.
In 2012, Guyana won the Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award, the Community Benefit Award and the Biodiversity Conservation Award. Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Barbados walked away with the Sustainable Accommodation Award and Dominica’s Kalinago Barana Aute copped the Heritage Protection award.
The CTO-TravelMole annual Sustainable Tourism Awards are aimed at identifying and showcasing sustainable tourism good practices in the Caribbean. The awards recognize individuals, groups, organizations or companies in any of the CTO member countries which have developed unique and attractive tourism products or are engaged in implementing sustainable tourism-related initiatives which embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values.
Themed, Keeping the Right Balance: Enhancing Destination Sustainability through Products, Partnerships, Profitability, STC-14 will feature focused panel discussions, special presentations and interactive workshops to create opportunities for delegates to interact with leading local, regional and international experts and tourism practitioners. There’s also a full day of exhilarating study tours to reveal the diversity of Trinidad & Tobago and the various sustainability models being employed. Also not to be missed are the Stakeholder Speak Out and youth-focused sessions which add to the rich sustainable tourism discourse.
As a third-time STC host, Trinidad & Tobago is again eager to showcase its many wonders. The government has identified tourism as one of the key pillars to lead the diversification effort in its energy fuelled economy. The growth of the tourism sector there is being guided by the principles of sustainable tourism where there is a balance between the use of environmental resources and the cultural and socio-economic benefits derived by host communities.
For more information on STC-14, visit www.caribbeanstc.com