The Bahamas is the winner of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) 2022 Destination and Stewardship Resilience Sustainable Tourism Award.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Investments & Aviation (BMOTIA) launched the Destination Stewardship Council Initiative during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to support tourism resilience and recovery by promoting sustainable lifestyles, environmental protections and stewardship in The Bahamas.
“We are not only honored to be the 2022 Destination Stewardship and Resilience CTO winners but there also exists a great satisfaction in knowing that The Bahamas was able to successfully pivot when tourism, our number one industry, was dealt this tremendous blow of uncertainty by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Latia Duncombe, director general, BMOTIA.
The Bahamas Destination Stewardship Council Initiative is a part of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council that promotes worldwide sustainable development of tourism. The initiative specifically aims to encourage tourism development particularly among community stakeholders to design eco-friendly projects, as well as, starting various culturally enriching projects including heritage site assessments.
Janel Campbell, manager, Sustainable Development, BMOTIA, said the initiative began with only five Destination Stewardship Councils on the islands of Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma, South Andros and Mangrove Cay and North and Central Andros but that number in such a short time has expanded to 9 with the addition of four more destinations (Abaco, Bimini, Grand Bahama, Cat Island). The ultimate goal she said is to have Destination Stewardship Council established on all 16-island destinations.
Destination Stewardship Councils receive continuous support from the Ministry inclusive of capacity building and a bi-annual conclave.
“It has been an exciting journey for the Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation to witness the benefits being experienced and the community initiatives that are being developed as a result of this program,” said Campbell.
“This honor directly speaks to The Bahamas’ resilience as a tourism destination and it also speaks to the confidence that members of our communities who make up our Stewardship Councils across our archipelago, have in our Sustainability Department and the Ministry at large,” said Duncombe.
“I congratulate all stakeholders involved in the sector’s sustainability growth in The Bahamas and extend thanks to the cadre of judges and of course, to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, who over the last two decades have envisioned a Caribbean that leads the world in sustainable efforts,” added Duncombe.
The Destination Stewardship and Resilience Award Category required entrants to demonstrate how they pivoted their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, or other crises and disasters through new initiatives, strategies, tourism products, services or experiences and how they made continuous strides toward preparation for and mitigation against future crises and disasters.
There were five submissions in the CTO category in which The Bahamas emerged the winner. The first runner up was Jamaica Tourist Board for Jamcovid and JAMICA CARES program; second runner up was St. Lucia Tourism Authority for teaching global press key Creole phrases and incorporating the national Madras fabric into trade shows and staff uniforms; while St. Kitts Tourism Authority received an honorable mention for notable destination campaigns; beach cleanups and annual Green Camp, themed “Protecting our People, Plants, and Planet”.
The award announcement was made during the CTO 2022 Virtual Award Ceremony on Wednesday, 15 Feb, 2023.