Writing for IPS News, Desmond Browne reports on how climate change and its impacts on Caribbean coastlines are affecting tourism business models in the region:
The postcards portray sand, sea and sun. But key players in the Caribbean tourism industry are warning that it’s time to shift gears away from the region’s threatened coastlines and instead promote inland attractions like biodiversity.
“Climate change is one of the things that is affecting the hotel industry, and the fact that most of our hotels are right on the beaches (means) they are subject to violent storms, the frequency of which has been projected to increase due to climate change issues,” hotelier and social entrepreneur Valmiki Kempadoo told IPS.
“Outside of Trinidad and maybe a large country like Jamaica, tourism is by far the largest economic driver of these smaller islands…and we have to seek new solutions, new business models that could take this thing into the 21st century,” he said.
Kempadoo is urging his regional counterparts to move their properties away from the beaches, noting that in light of the effects of climate change “having a hotel at 500 feet or 1,000 feet above sea level can help in that general direction”.
He said while the Caribbean is known best for its beaches, there are also lots of other experiences the different islands can offer.
“The climate away from the beaches is much better. It’s an incredibly fertile place where we can grow all these amazing exotic tropical fruits and vegetables that we have a world class collection of,” he said.
“We can offer beautiful hikes, we can offer beautiful views and a beautiful experience without the high humidity and the other things that come with having a hotel on the seaside,” Kempadoo added.
Sam Raphael, the owner of Jungle Bay Hotel in Dominica, smiles at the suggestion from Valmiki Kempadoo.
He said when he established his jungle resort several years ago, “it was out of an acknowledgement that it is imperative that we make some radical changes and improvement to our tourism industry if it is to survive.
“A few years ago, our industry accepted a false choice between enterprise development and protecting our fragile natural environment. The empowerment and capacity building of our people to be the entrepreneur drivers of the primary industry of our region, our daily bread, was not a priority,” he said.
Read more in the full IPS article.