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The St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council: An Innovative Model For Destination-wide Sustainable Tourism Cooperation

When we think of tourism, we often think of hotels, airlines, restaurants, attractions, and tour guides. But the industry is far more complex than this and includes many more stakeholders beyond what we see on the surface. For instance, how do the roads you travel on get built? What happens to your trash after you dispose of it? And who maintains the parks and beaches you visit?  In addition to the more obvious participants, tourism also involves government departments and agencies, local and global NGOs, and host communities.

Likewise, sustainable tourism issues and initiatives typically span multiple sectors. As a result, destination sustainability is most successful when stakeholders across these sectors work together towards a shared agenda. However, a lack of collaboration and disjointed efforts between stakeholders is often a roadblock for destinations on the path to sustainability and can lead to limited progress.

SDC LogoAs a result of their participation in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Early Adopters Program, St. Kitts realized early on that a lack of stakeholder collaboration was hampering their sustainability progress. Determined to do something about it, the Ministry of Tourism partnered with Sustainable Travel International to design an innovative cross-sector collaboration concept. Launched in 2013, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), formerly known as the Inter-Agency Sustainable Destination Management Council (IASDMC), is an advisory body made up of representatives from the public and private sectors that promotes sustainable destination management.

The SDC envisions a future for St. Kitts where tourism development preserves and benefits the local environment, culture, heritage and community livelihoods. Since its founding, the SDC has primarily focused its efforts on raising awareness of sustainability, as well as increasing stakeholder buy-in and coordination on sustainable tourism activities.

By bringing a diverse group of people to the table, the SDC encourages productive conversations, open dialogue, and experience sharing. These interactions can lead to new partnerships around sustainability initiatives, as well as more effective resource use as funds and expertise are shared between different agencies.

The council has led and supported various public awareness campaigns, on topics such as water conservation and reducing plastic waste. It also played a key role in the development of the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation and continues to support the Foundation’s sustainability initiatives and volunteer events. Currently, the SDC is working alongside the Ministry of Tourism and Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to plan the upcoming Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum. This event will bring together tourism representatives from across the region to discuss opportunities for climate change adaptation in the Caribbean.

The SDC’s collaborative approach is an innovative way to plan for destination development, and can serve as a model for other tourism destinations.

Getting to Know the Faces Behind the SDC

The SDC includes representatives from many different backgrounds who each bring their own unique perspectives, insights, and experiences to the sustainability conversation. Some of the entities represented include the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism, St. Kitts Eco Park, St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, the Department of Marine Resources, Kittitian Hill, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, UNESCO, and the Bureau of Standards.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the different faces behind the SDC. Keep an eye out for our “Getting to Know the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council” series of member profiles to learn more about the dedicated people who are making this happen!

Learn More About Our Work in St. Kitts

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