Caribbean Tourism Organization Teams Up with St. Kitts and Sustainable Travel International to Host Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum

The 6-8 September event is in observance of  International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (9 May, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, is partnering with the ministry of tourism in St. Kitts to host a sustainable tourism forum, with a focus on climate change.

Themed, Good for Us, Better for All, the 6-8 September Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum is being held in observance of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and will bring together local, regional, and international representatives from public and private sector tourism entities, as well as development agencies that offer programming in sustainable tourism, for three days of interactive engagements.

Major elements will include best practice sharing and strategic consultations for a CTO climate adaptation project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, in order to strengthen holistic destination management approaches in the Caribbean.

“The CTO is honoured to partner with St. Kitts and Nevis to host this forum, which will explore various facets of sustainable tourism, in view of the threats and opportunities for regional tourism development, as a result of climate variability and climate change,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist.

The winner of the 2004 CTO/Travel Mole Sustainable Tourism Award in Destination Stewardship, St Kitts is one of the first destinations in the world to be accepted as an early adopter of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for destinations. It also is a founding member of the Sustainable Destination Alliance of the Americas, an initiative by the CTO, the Organization of American States, Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited to promote sustainable destination management in the Caribbean and Central America.

Its many initiatives include the establishment of the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation and Sustainability Charter, which helps businesses understand how their operations contribute to destination-wide sustainability, and to support community projects that make St. Kitts a more sustainable place to live and experience.

“There is an inexorable link between tourism activity and climate change. Tourism therefore must play an integral role in the global response to climate change; a charge St. Kitts takes very seriously. Through the investment of considerable resources into sustainable tourism, St. Kitts is changing the way tourism is perceived and practiced globally, regionally, and at home,” minister of tourism Lindsay Grant said.

The Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum will also feature experiential field visits, a meeting of CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Technical Committee, and winning presentations from CTO’s Primary School Tourism Writing Competition. The event culminates with the presentation ceremony for CTO’s 2017 Sustainable Tourism Awards which recognise regional sustainability champions.

Organising partners include the CTO, the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, and Sustainable Travel International. For sponsorship opportunities, and to signal your interest in attending please contact Amanda Charles at [email protected] or  Kennedy Pemberton at [email protected].

About St. Kitts

St. Kitts is currently ranked by US News & World Report, with sister island Nevis, at #1 on a list of Best Caribbean Honeymoons, #2 on a list of the Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations in the World, #5 on a list of Best Family Vacations in the Caribbean, #7 on a list of the Best Islands in the World and #7 on a list of theBest Places to Visit in the Caribbean.  The destination is also ranked at #8 on a list of the Top 10 Best Islands for a Holiday by Places To See In Your Lifetime and one of the Top 12 Best Caribbean Vacations on FlipKey.com, the vacation rental company of leading travel website, TripAdvisor®.

Most recently, The Wall Street Journal ranked St. Kitts as #9 on a list of 10 places across the world for Where to Vacation in 2017, Coastal Living ranked St. Kitts as #16 of The World’s 21 Top Luxury Beach Destinations in 2017, and Caribbean Journal ranked St. Kitts as #11 of 25 Caribbean Destinations to Visit in 2017. St. Kitts has also been named #8 of the Top 10 Sexiest Places on the Planet by Reader’s Digest (Canada), one of the Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations by Thrillistand one of 6 Caribbean Islands You Need to Visit Now by Travelocity.

Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and sandy beaches combine to make St. Kitts one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean. Located in the northern Leeward Islands, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history.  The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, and touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the more traditional vacation pastimes available are watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on the beach.  For more information about St. Kitts, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

About Sustainable Travel International

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of people around the world and the environments they rely upon. By leveraging the power of travel and tourism and providing business and government leaders with the guidance, policies and solutions they need, we aim to ensure that the communities they’re engaged in thrive and their environments are healthy for future generations. For more information, visit www.sustainabletravel.org.

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of the region’s finest countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean. Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, event planning & execution and research & information technology. In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.

The CTO’s Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail:[email protected]

The CTO’s New York office is located at 80 Broad St., Suite 3302, New York, NY 10004, USA; Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail:[email protected];

The CTO’s London office is located at The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1BP, England;  Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail:[email protected]; For Canada contact Nancy Drolet at [email protected]; Tel:  905-857-1986.

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization please visit www.OneCaribbean.org. Get the latest CTO updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctotourism. Connect with CTO on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization. Follow CTO on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ctotourism/



Johnson JohnRose – CTO

Tel: (246) 427-5242

Email: [email protected]


Aruba View

Engaging the Aruba Community in Sustainable Tourism Planning

Our team visited Aruba to present the results of the rapid destination diagnostic and meet with local stakeholders to map out a more sustainable future for the tourism industry

Header image by David Kirsch / flickr

Located just north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is a small island spanning only 70 square miles (181 square kilometers). While just over 100,000 people call the island ‘home’, these inhabitants are by no means the only people you’ll find on the island. Though Aruba may be small, its allure is mighty.  The constant sunshine, long stretches of white-sand beaches, and cool trade winds attract millions of visitors to Aruba’s shores year after year. In 2015, over 1.8 million people visited the island and took part in activities such as diving, kite-surfing, and exploring the desert-like hills of Arikok National Park.

Given the small size of the island and the limited availability of natural resources, local stakeholders felt a need to determine how the tourism industry could more positively impact the environment and local community. With the aim of encouraging greater collaboration and planning around sustainable destination management, Aruba joined the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA) in 2016.

 Eagle Beach by Chris Ford / flickr; Arikok National Park by Christina Leigh Morgan / flickr; Tourists in downtown Oranjestad by Roberto Maldeno / flickr

Identifying the issues and taking action

We began our work in Aruba last year with an initial onsite diagnostic in October 2016. During this first visit, we had the opportunity to meet with over 50 stakeholders from the government, businesses, and local community. By listening to their insights and seeing the island’s key tourism sites in-person, we were able to gain a better understanding of the current sustainability status of Aruba’s tourism industry. At the start of the new year, we returned to Aruba for a second time to share the diagnostic results with local stakeholders and to help them outline the next steps they’d like to take.

Over 35 stakeholders, including representatives from the Aruba Tourism Authority, local hotels and tour operators, and other government entities, gathered for the workshop we hosted in Oranjestad. We began the workshop by presenting the diagnostic results. Remember how we said over 1.8 MILLION tourists came to Aruba? While these millions of tourists were exploring the island and pumping their dollars into the local economy, they also used energy, created waste and used thousands of liters of drinking water. The results of the diagnostic highlighted the different sustainability issues that we discovered within the tourism industry in Aruba.  Some of these issues were inefficient waste management, poor visitor management and monitoring, and low community involvement within the industry.

Following the presentation of the results, we facilitated a discussion and action-planning activity. When asked which of the sustainability issues were the most important to them, there was resounding agreement among the attendees that dealing with the island’s waste should be one of the top priorities. Waste is a major problem affecting the island, especially since the current landfill is reaching its limit. One issue attendees cited was the occasional waste burning that occurs in the landfill. This causes air pollution and poses an environmental and health risk. Not only does the lack of a sustainable waste model waste negatively affect the visitor experience, but it also harms the island’s marine life and affects the quality of life of Aruba’s residents.

Participants were then tasked with coming up for ideas about what action should be taken to address the waste issue. They discussed the pros and cons of having an incinerator, converting the waste into gas so that this energy could be used, and increasing recycling capacity. All of these options need careful analysis and the involvement of other players, so these will be the next steps to ensure that Aruba manages its waste in an appropriate manner.

Local destination stakeholders attended an action planning workshop in January 2017

Priority Action Projects

In addition to the sustainable waste processing project, the participants identified three additional priority action projects during the workshop:

Development of sustainability tourism standards: This project involves designing and implementing a set of guidelines for tourism sector providers including tour operators, restaurants, accommodation, tour guides, and transport providers. The creation of these standards will help ensure that tourism activities are performed in a manner that is safe, environmentally responsible, respectful of heritage and beneficial for the local communities.

Creation of a formal watchdog platform for the Destination Development Plan/SDAA actions: This project will establish a multi-stakeholder destination stewardship council that will enforce existing laws and policies as well as oversee the long-term implementation of the destination action plan. This watchdog platform will help to protect Aruba’s natural and cultural resources by improving the management of tourism sites and mitigating negative tourism impacts.

‘Bario Boost: Mi Dushi Bario’: This project will set up participatory platforms in each bario (neighborhood) that will give communities the opportunity to take part in tourism-related planning and decision-making. These platforms will also help to increase resident pride and awareness of their role in the tourism value chain.

While these changes won’t happen overnight; the progress that destination stakeholders have made so far in developing an action plan is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. We look forward to continuing our work with Aruba and helping them make this vision a reality.

Learn more about the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

Igniting student interest in sustainability in St. Kitts

For many children, going to school means sitting in a dull classroom, eyes glazed over, watching the clock until it’s time to go home. While this may be an everyday experience for some children, if you step inside a school in St. Kitts, you will quickly realize that this is not always the case.  Primary schools in St. Kitts are a constant flurry of activity. Shouts and laughter can be heard filling the campuses as the children are overcome with the excitement and joy of learning. This enthusiasm is contagious, both inside the school walls and out.  

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

In the Caribbean, where tourism drives the economy and the tension between the desire for development and the need to protect resources is ongoing, we led a consortium of businesses, destinations, donors, regional organizations and nonprofits — all with a vested interested in maintaining and restoring the region’s natural, cultural and economic integrity.

The destinations that belonged to the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas (SDAA) included:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Riviera Maya
  • St. Kitts & Nevis

Our Role

In each of these destinations, we provided a host of regionalized approaches to their unique set of challenges and opportunities, ultimately allowing them to determine their own paths toward ongoing sustainable development.

As a result of the SDAA’s efforts, each destination was equipped with a list of action projects as a way to develop best practices and work towards becoming a sustainable destination. The projects address top priority environmental, socio-cultural, and economic issues to help preserve the destination, improve the visitor experience, and increase benefits for local residents.


destination pin icon

Destination: Multiple

Regions: Caribbean Islands, Central America



“Environmental protection and development can go hand-in-hand. But it takes communication to create sustainability solutions.” – Ruleta Camacho, Senior Environment Officer, Antigua

Our Partners

  • Organization of American States
  • United States Department of State
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Caribbean Tourism Organization
  • Caribbean Tourism
  • Tourism Promotion Agency of Central America
  • Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana

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Dominica Waterfall

Improving Waste Management in Dominica

Referred to as “The Nature Island,” Dominica attracts thousands of tourists each year to experience its wealth of forests, rivers and other natural attractions. However, growing waste management issues threaten the long-term health of these natural assets and prosperity of the tourism industry.

Over 4 million kilograms of waste were generated in Dominica in 2014, of which the tourism industry contributed approximately 4.5 percent. This substantial amount of waste poses a problem as Dominica’s waste management infrastructure is inadequate for current or future needs. Resources are limited and there is a need for additional collection trucks, haulers, and recycling collection points. In addition, the inconsistent enforcement of policies results in missed opportunities for improved waste management. Because there are no policies or resources in place to address food waste in hotels, organic matter that could be composted is instead being sent to landfills. There is also a general lack of public awareness about waste management issues and the related environmental concerns.

Our Role

Kalinago Territory Waste Management

Dominica is the only Caribbean island with a remaining population of pre-Colombian Carib Indians, now known as the Kalinago. The majority of this indigenous population lives in a series of small rural settlements that make up the Kalinago Territory on the northeastern coast of the Island. Due to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Kalinago, there is a high potential for community-based, cultural tourism in the region. This tourism development would create additional income opportunities for the communities, but it would also bring challenges such as added waste.

During an action-planning workshop conducted as part of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), local stakeholders identified a priority project focused on improving waste management in the Kalinago Territory. The goal of the project is to develop a model waste management plan for the region. Town hall meetings will be held to discuss waste separation and create a collection schedule. In addition, local residents will receive training to become garbage collectors and a truck will be purchased to start collection. This project will help ensure the Kalinago Territory remains an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike as community-based tourism grows.

Composting for Tourism Businesses

In 2015, Sustainable Travel International partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to develop a waste management tool for the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States. As part of this work, local stakeholders met for an on-site workshop and identified quick-win project ideas for improved waste management in Dominica’s tourism sector. Stakeholders chose to prioritize a project focused on implementing a food waste composting program in Roseau and its surrounding environs. Increasing the amount of food waste being composted by tourism businesses will reduce the amount of waste going to the island’s only landfill, prevent harmful environmental impacts, and lessen business costs. In addition, the implementation of a composting system also represents potential economic benefits as the finished compost could be sold for use by farmers or hotel gardens.

This pilot project will target participation of 20 hotels, restaurants and related entities in Roseau and its surrounding areas. The vision is to address composting at a national level by scaling up the pilot project to other regions of the country based on lessons learned and funding secured.

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Related Work

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

Learn more about how the SDAA is combatting key environmental and human threats associated with tourism in the Caribbean and Latin America

Waste Issues

Learn more about how we’re addressing waste issues affecting other destinations 

World Tourism Day: Celebrating the Caribbean

We’re working with our partners in the Caribbean to plan their own path toward a better future so that the magnificent beaches, magnetic cultural traditions and verdant forests that attract millions of visitors each year contribute to the well-being of communities, the creation of jobs and the protection of resources.