Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 06, 2016 (SKNIS): The Heart of St. Kitts, a new initiative coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism is designed to encourage enterprises to become progressively sustainable and give back to the tourism industry.
This was revealed by Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Diannille Taylor-Williams who was one of three representatives on the latest edition of the Government programme “Working for You,” held May 04.
“We have just launched the Heart of St. Kitts which is comprised of two areas, one, A Sustainability Charter and two, A Foundation,” Mrs. Taylor-Williams said. “The Sustainability Charter is just a tool for Tourism Enterprises and we are hoping we’ll extend beyond this first phase to all enterprises because we’re talking about destination management. We’re encouraging tourism enterprises to tell the story of what they’re doing to ensure the sustainability of their businesses, and where they haven’t started yet, to encourage them to start some sustainability practices.”
The Tourism Assistant Secretary revealed that one of the matters that had arisen on a survey pertaining to the Sustainability Charter was the need for effective waste management. She added that the charter had been divided into three broad themes: natural resource management, community participation and operational management.
“But at the heart of the Sustainability Charter is the Sustainability Foundation, and every business that signs on to our charter is asked to make a contribution, whether a direct contribution annually or they can encourage their customers to contribute to the Foundation,” Mrs. Taylor-Williams said. “Now people might wonder, what are they collecting the money for? The money is being collected to fund tourism-related projects.”
It was noted that while contributions toward the Foundation might not come in consistently within the first year, once they did come in, they would go toward the Rails to Trails Project. This is a community-based project with the objective of turning the unused section of the sugar railway into bike trails. Other prospective projects that the foundation is interested in assisting with are a waste management project as well as a beach cleanup. All projects are expected to originate within communities in St. Kitts.
The objectives of the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation are coastal and marine conservation, new tourism projects, heritage protection and waste management.
By the second year in the foundation’s existence, community groups will be encouraged to write in for grants. Mrs. Taylor-Williams said that once the projects meet any combination of the four objectives, small grants will be provided. She added that while the amount may be a minimal several thousand dollars, this could be used as collateral to source additional funding from a lending institution.
The Tourism Assistant Secretary revealed that the Heart of St. Kitts came about because an assessment of St. Kitts and Nevis by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council revealed that the Federation was not capitalizing on the visitors who come to the destination.
“Travel philanthropy was not being realized,” she said. “We are not encouraging visitors to give back and very often visitors want to give back to the destination.”