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Caribbean Tourism secures climate change funds

By Brian Major From Travel Pulse

Caribbean tourism stakeholders have increasingly asserted their region is the most vulnerable globally to climate change’s devastating effects and are seeking ways to address the threat.

Their efforts gained a significant boost in June with a recent Caribbean Development Bank grant to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Last month CDB granted CTO $523,723 to implement a project to “increase the Caribbean tourism sector’s resilience to natural hazards and climate-related risks,” said officials in a statement.

CTO will use the funding to support regional tourism organizations with policy formulation, promoting disaster risk management best practices and climate change adaptation strategies while also developing tools to enhance tourism sector knowledge and awareness of disaster risk reduction and the potential impact of climate variability and climate change.

“Global climate change and its impacts, including the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, pose a significant risk to the Caribbean region and threaten the sustainability of Caribbean tourism,” said Hugh Riley, CTO’s secretary general.

“CTO is pleased to have the support of the CDB to implement this project which will contribute to enhancing the resiliency, sustainability and competitiveness of the region’s tourism sector,” he said. “Mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk management strategies in tourism development and planning is our duty to our member countries.”

“Tourism generates high levels of employment, foreign direct investment and foreign exchange for our borrowing member countries,” said Dr. Wm. Warren Smith, CDB’s president.

“[Tourism] is a very effective tool for promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction. However, maintaining this critical role calls for adequate safeguards against the enormous threats climate change and natural hazards pose to the sustainability of our region.”

CTO’s program will also feature a training component designed to “strengthen the ability of public and private sector tourism stakeholders to undertake adequate [climate change] mitigation and adaptation actions.”

The CTO secretariat will in turn “benefit from institutional strengthening to help provide technical assistance and ongoing support for tourism-related climate services,” said officials.

The CTO/CDB project is a component of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

PHOTO: Hugh Riley, Caribbean Tourism Organization’s secretary general. (photo by Brian Major)

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