Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 20, 2017 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Tourism in St. Kitts has made great strides in sustainable tourism and was recognized for this when it received the Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) on December 14, 2017.
Speaking on Wednesday’s (December 20) edition of “Working for You”, Assistant Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Diannille Taylor- Williams, said that “this is quite a crown and quite a feather in our cap in terms of the work we are doing at the Ministry of Tourism.”
She explained that when the sugar industry ended in 2005, focus was placed on tourism as the main economic driver but recognised the sustainability risks that were associated with tourism development.
“The good thing for us is that having just started out in tourism, we were able to look at the pitfalls of some neighbouring destinations and avoid those pitfalls and to focus on how we can make our tourism product sustainable, how can we do things now so that it does not create repercussions for future generations,” she said. “So, we began to deliberately go on a path of sustainability and we began a sustainable destination management programme.”
Mrs. Taylor- Williams noted that the programme has grown over the years and that there have been several additional programmes that came on board.
The assistant permanent secretary said that one of the things that the ministry is being recognised for is having a multi-sectoral or multi-stakeholder group that manages the destination, which has been used as a case study that can be implemented in other destinations. She also said that there is a sustainable destination council that is also being modelled in other destinations.
“We have already been recognised for some of the things that the council has done. Just this year we had plastic free July. We also worked with the water department where we began efforts in 2015-2016 to look at the issue of water and water resilience,” Mrs. Taylor- Williams said.
There are several other programmes which the ministry was recognised for including its tourism education programme and its community tourism programme. It is also being recognized for its Rails-to Trails Project, which involves converting an unused portion of the railway to create biking and hiking trails.
Mrs. Taylor- Williams said that not only did the ministry have programmes to add to its nominations form, but for very area that was mentioned there had to be legislative backing.
“So, the political side is also an integral part of what is being done in terms of our winning the award,” she said. “We had the legislation and policy in place to back the programmes that we have introduced.”
She said the ministry won an award three years ago for destination stewardship.
“So, we have now gone to the next level. This award speaks to the fact that we have moved beyond that, in that three years we would have moved so far that we were able to cop this award. This was the very first award and out of the other nominees, we were finalist with two other organizations and it’s important to note that the two other organizations were private sector. We were the only public sector finalists and we won the top award.
The St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism was selected as the winner out of 96 entries and 17 countries.
This was the first time CTO has received so many entries.