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Tuesday, May 02, 2006 

Caribbean Tourism Organization

Caribbean needs balance between tourism development and region`s character
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Caribbean travel industry has been advised to protect the region’s character while developing its tourism potential. Todd Sotkiewicz, the general manager of the Americas for the travel guidebooks publisher, Lonely Planet, said there must be a balance between tourism development and the protection of the environment.

He told delegates attending the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) 8th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-8) here that local communities must also benefit from tourism.

“Certain tourism infrastructure has to exist to attract sufficient travellers to make tourism economically viable,” Sotkiewicz said.

“But that infrastructure needs to generate income that is poured back into the local community and into the kinds of operations that benefit travellers and locals alike and that, in this way, serves to perpetuate the unique attractions and qualities of a particular place.”

Sotkiewicz, who delivered the keynote address, also called on Caribbean tourism stakeholders to educate themselves about the importance of sustainable tourism principles and practices, and to educate local communities about the opportunities for development and job creation that tourism can bring to the region.

He called for the provision of opportunities “for grassroots people to people connection” in a manner that will satisfy both the visitor and the local community.

“How do we identify, develop and support the local artistes and artisans, tour providers, shopkeepers and others whose services will benefit visitors, and how do we provide opportunities for visitors to give back to the communities with which they interact?” asked the Lonely Planet executive.

Sotkiewicz’s presentation preceded a discussion on tourism, economic development and the environment, the focus of the second day of the conference which has as its theme, Keeping the Right Balance: Sustainable Tourism and Economic Development.

The conference is organized by CTO in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PTRC), and is co-sponsored by American Express and the European Union within the framework of the Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development programme (CRSTDP).

Michael Verikios - Tuesday, May 02, 2006

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