Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 01, 2015 (SKNIS): Speaking at a Sustainable Tourism Forum on November 30, Minister of Tourism, Honourable Lindsay Grant, stated that emphasis is currently being placed on sustainable tourism to ensure the longevity of the most important economic driver in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

In order to support sustainable tourism, which will ensure the protection of national and cultural assets, the ministry has developed a tourism strategy. It is a “pro-people and pro-planet” strategy, said Minister Grant.

“Over the next four years, we plan to focus on people centred development that includes the meaningful participation of all citizens and tourism stakeholders,” explained the Minister. “In St. Kitts, we find that tourism is not taught in the schools and so we have started a programme this coming year to begin the process of ensuring that our youth understand the importance of tourism. We are doing a pilot project both in the primary and secondary schools to ensure that it is delivered.”

A part of the strategy is to create “competitiveness that is no longer based solely on sun, sand and sea but on our culture and our heritage and man-made attributes such as talent and technology,” said the tourism minister.

“The visitor experience is changing in today’s environment,” stated Minister Grant, noting that
visitors now want to be immersed in the culture and heritage of a country.

“I believe in St. Kitts and Nevis we stand tall among the islands in the Caribbean in terms of history and culture and so we need to project that and ensure that the visitor experience is enhanced when they come to St. Kitts and Nevis.”

The minister also stated that his ministry wants to adopt a holistic approach to environmental protection that touches all levels of society which means creating partnerships among public and private sectors, as well as communities to ensure that tourism development benefits all.

“The value of tourism enterprises engaging in the full range of tourism stakeholders is critical for the successful implementation of sustainability on island,” the minister stated. “It is clear that we, like all small island destinations, face significant challenges, but the opportunity for tourism to positively impact their environment, lives and livelihoods are strong.”

The minister said that a fundamental tenet of sustainable destination management is shared responsibility as there is no single stakeholder group that is solely responsible for generating impacts or preserving the destinations natural and cultural heritage.

He further stated that “Inter-sectoral collaboration and private sector partnerships are necessary for ensuring the long term sustainability of our tourism destination.”

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