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Tourism stakeholders from the Caribbean, Australia and other parts of the world, are participating in the 2006 Green Globe International and Caribbean Green Tourism Conference, now underway at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay. The four-day meeting, which began on Tuesday (Oct.31), will seek to provide an exciting and engaging forum for discussion of current sustainable tourism issues, solutions and best practice case studies. Among the topics to be covered are: sustainable destinations, planning for emergencies and disasters, maximizing the benefits of sustainability, certification essentials, green technologies and supplies, ecotourism and innovative practices, among others. Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) Audrey Marks, in her remarks at the opening ceremony, stressed that tourism, which was Jamaica’s leading foreign exchange earner, offered tremendous opportunities for economic development globally.
She noted that last year, arrivals increased by 11.8 per cent, with stopover arrivals going up by 17.9 per cent and cruise visitors by 5.2 per cent. Visitor expenditure increased by approximately 24.6 per cent during this period.
“What that says to us is that this is a sector, which holds tremendous possibilities for our economic and social development. The challenge for us, like others, however, is to realize this potential while planning further growth in a manner that is sustainable,” Ms. Marks said.
She noted that while efforts continue for the growth and development of the industry, attention must be focused on sound environmental protection. “This is one of the real challenges now being faced by small developing nations like ours. How do you effectively . develop the art and craft industry without the destruction of our coral reefs, or communicate that trees, many of which are very old and rare, cannot be used for coal and fire,” she pointed out.
“I trust that it will not be too far-fetched to expect that the ideas for addressing these concerns would be generated through fora like this conference,” Miss Marks said, noting that, “events like this will help to increase public awareness .which will set the agenda for public debate and positive action.”
Meanwhile, the TPDCo Chairman informed that Jamaica had the distinction of being the most certified destination in the Caribbean and having the highest number of properties participating in the Green Globe programme, for any single destination in the world. She commended all stakeholders locally as well as partners in the region and on the international scene, for the part they have played in this outstanding achievement.
The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Enhancing the business of tourism through a pathway to sustainability’.