Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 12, 2017 (SKNIS): The 2017 Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum that is currently underway in St. Kitts comes at an ideal time as the Caribbean is feeling the effects of climate change as was exemplified with the passages of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Climate change can have a tremendous impact on tourism and St. Kitts is doing its part to sustain its tourism product despite of this, says Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Carlene Henry Morton.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum on December 11, Mrs. Morton said that the economic benefits of the industry are unquestionable. She said that tourism has the power to transform economies and livelihoods for the better. Conversely, it can destroy cultures and communities. She added that it is up to the citizens, individually and collectively, to manage it responsibly to ensure the former and prevent the latter.

“We need not delude ourselves. We know that tourism activity when not properly managed feeds climate change,” Mrs. Morton said. “Despite what some sceptics may say, there is ample evidence that some tourism related activity is inexorably linked to climate change.”

The permanent secretary added that tourism, therefore, must play an integral role in the global response to climate change, “a charge which the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism takes very seriously.”

Mrs. Morton said that because of its transversal nature, “tourism is unique in the number of lives and sectors it touches including agriculture, retail, manufacturing, construction, accommodations, attractions, entertainment, transportation and the list goes on.”

It was said that that there must be a collective effort to reduce the environmental footprint of the diverse activities that relate to tourism.

“Across economic sectors and across national and regional boundaries, our responses to climate change and sea level rise must be coordinated with and integrated into existing polices of socioeconomic development and environmental conservation so we can facilitate both sustainable development and sustainable tourism,” Mrs. Morton said.

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is pursuing a dual approach to cross sector development by building resilience and security into the existing infrastructure and sector activities, and implementing fundamental systemic change in institutions and approaches to traditional activities such as tourism and agriculture, said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.

“At the Ministry of Tourism, specifically, we have embarked upon a decidedly pro-people and pro-planet approach to tourism, which we are convinced will help to build awareness and grow a more sustainable tourism product.”