Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Ja: Go green for tourist dollars?

WESTERN BUREAU -- Ian Challenger, a representative of the Kaikoura District Council in New Zealand, has come out strongly in support of the implementation of 'green' programmes in the region, saying that it could significantly boost the Caribbean's tourism industry.

"I think that if more of these programmes are introduced it will help the tourism sector because this is the area that tourists now want. They want to know that the areas that they are going to, have good environmental practices," he said.

Challenger was one of the more than 200 participants attending the Second Educational Symposium and Green Tourism Conference at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, staged under the theme "Increasing Revenue and Market Share for Sustainable Tourism".

During his presentation to the four-day conference last Thursday, Challenger told his audience that with the implementation of several 'green' programmes, Kaikoura's tourist arrivals increased from 2,000 in 1986, to 1.3 million visitors at the end of last year.

Kaikoura is 2,048 square kilometres and is the world's first Green Globe Destination.

Among the practices that the community has put in place to improve the environment are: the collection of and recycling of domestic waste at no cost to residents; and a tree-planting project for tourists.
If the green agenda is limited to ventures such as tree-planting, trash collecting, and cleaning up the waterways, that's fine. However, these gambits are just the trunk of the elephant under the tent.

I'm all in favor of Caribbean governments acting swiftly to reverse or halt environmental problems such as tainted waterways and shoreline erosion. However, wholesale implementation of the green agenda, which has essentially become the new communism, is something the region cannot afford. For many environmentalists, the comforts they take for granted in their own homes are to be denied developing countries. That, we can do without.

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