Guidelines for Caribbean’s coral reef

by Jun 22, 2022Pulse

The first ever guide to coral reef restoration designed specifically for the tourism sector has been created. It’s a collaborative effort by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It comes at a critical time for economies and the ocean

Healthy coral reefs are essential for the Caribbean tourism industry, which drives local economies and supports hundreds of thousands of livelihoods throughout the region. A Guide to Coral Reef Restoration for the Tourism Sector presents coral restoration best practices backed by scientific research, practitioner experience and stakeholder input. It addresses barriers that, up until now, have hindered the Caribbean tourism sector from substantively engaging in efforts to conserve the very marine environments that draw millions of visitors to the region each year. It also reveals key opportunities for the industry during a critical time — when developing sustainable tourism practices not only helps to reverse years of degradation of Caribbean reefs, but also helps tourism-dependent businesses survive and prosper after the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) — which CHTA founded in 1997 to assess the tourism industry’s readiness, needs and willingness to play a more proactive role in managing, protecting and improving coral reefs throughout the Caribbean — teamed up TNC, UNEP and CHTA on the ground-breaking collaboration. The guide was developed following months of surveys and discussions with Caribbean tourism industry stakeholders.

Coral reef with starfish and colourful tropical fish, in the Caribbean sea.

“TNC, UNEP, CHTA and CAST developed these new guidelines because we recognised that the tourism sector has an excellent opportunity to amplify coral conservation,” says Ximena Escovar-Fadul, TNC’s Senior Associate, Ocean Planning and Mapping.

“In response to the coral reef crisis, there has been a shift on the part of tourism businesses and consumers toward more sustainable travel options. Beyond this ‘do no harm’ mind-set, there is an increasing interest in travel activities that can proactively help nature. For example, travellers want to know how they can offset their carbon emissions or take part in restoring the environments that bring them joy when visiting a destination, like coral reefs.”

Coral reefs support economic stability and human wellbeing across the globe, but the link between these ecosystems and communities is especially significant, and facing grave risk, in the Caribbean today. Half of all livelihoods in the region depend on marine resources. To create the tourism-centred coral restoration guide, it was fundamental to collect input from people whose businesses or income depend on healthy coral reefs. Interviews, surveys and focus groups were conducted with stakeholders across more than 20 Caribbean countries and territories, incorporating multiple tourism sub-sectors to capture a wide array of perspectives — including transportation and accommodations, food and beverage, ocean and beach recreation, and others.

“Coral reefs and the important ecosystem services they provide are critical for economies and communities throughout the wider Caribbean. They generate more than US$8 billion per year for the tourism industry, but they are under serious threat. It is estimated that over half of the live coral in the region has been lost in the last 50 years,” explains Ileana Lopez, Regional Coordinator – Biodiversity and Ecosystems, UNEP’s office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The restoration of degraded coral reef ecosystems is only possible when political and financial support, scientific innovation and active participation of local stakeholders are combined,” she adds.


What's Trending


Twitter Feed

No Tweets available. Login as Admin to see more details.