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Scientists Create First-Ever Guidelines to Help Caribbean Tourism Sector Conserve Coral Reefs

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#SANJUAN, Puerto Rico (June 21, 2022) – At a critical time for economies and the ocean, The Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and the United Nations Environment Programme joined forces to create, for the first time in the Caribbean, a guide to coral reef restoration designed specifically for the tourism sector.
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 to survive and prosper after the economic fallout of COVID-19.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), along with 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 on the groundbreaking collaboration. The guide was developed following months of surveys and discussions with Caribbean tourism industry stakeholders.
“TNC, UNEP, CHTA and CAST developed these new guidelines because we recognized 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’ mindset, there is an increasing interest in travel activities that can proactively help nature. For example, travelers 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 well-being 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-centered 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 is combined.”
In recent years, TNC and its partners have pioneered research to reveal the important connection between tourism and our ocean resources – and to elevate the ways in which effective conservation can ensure this relationship is productive and sustainable into the future. A groundbreaking study led by TNC revealed that reef-associated tourism in the Caribbean generates US$8 billion per year – nearly 25% of all tourism expenditure – from over 11 million visitors. TNC’s Mapping Ocean Wealth project, which quantified the tourism value of the world’s reefs to mobilize investments in conservation, was recognized as a “world-changing tourism initiative” by winning the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Innovation Award. Building on this momentum, TNC and the CHTA forged a partnership to work with tourism leaders throughout the Caribbean in their efforts to ensure a healthy and thriving ocean.
“Our growing alliance with the tourism sector is key to our mission in the Caribbean,” says Dr. Rob Brumbaugh, Executive Director of TNC’s Caribbean Division. “Because tourism in the region depends on a thriving natural world, there is a strong economic incentive to support conservation. But, beyond that, one thing we learned when creating these new guidelines is that many tourism leaders simply want to ‘give back’ to nature and know that consumers do as well. So, the industry can be a powerful ally in our work and, in fact, has great capacity to accelerate coral conservation. Tourism businesses often have facilities near reef sites that can host restoration projects; nature enthusiasts on staff, like dive instructors, who can serve as ‘conservation ambassadors’; communications tools, like airport signage, that reach millions of people; and relationships with local governments and communities that can garner support for sustainable ocean use.”
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig believes now is a particularly important time for tourism to play a vital role in ocean conservation. She explains, “Tourism in the Caribbean, and around the world, suffered a devastating downturn with the pandemic. But as the industry regains its footing, there is a key window of opportunity to attract a wider group of consumers and protect the resources tourism depends on by offering sustainable travel options and engaging in meaningful conservation. This is where guidance from our conservation partners becomes pivotal. Many tourism businesses are adopting a sustainable approach and would like to actively contribute to coral conservation, but they don’t have the technical expertise. Or they completed a pilot reef restoration project but lack the capacity to scale up the work. As we continue to share scientific research and best practices, and to address the conservation challenges facing the tourism sector, CHTA and CAST aim to transform travel in the Caribbean, so it not only exists in harmony with our natural world but also benefits it.”
CAST Chairman Jamaican hotelier Kyle Mais; CAST founding co-Chairman and Chairman of Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic, Frank Rainieri; and Jake Kheel, Vice President of Fundación Grupo Puntacana, a nonprofit entity of Grupo Puntacana and regional pioneer in coral restoration, agreed that coral restoration is rapidly evolving and needs an “all hands on deck” approach to scale up the much-needed recovery of the Caribbean’s coral reefs. They support A Guide to Coral Reef Restoration for the Tourism Sector as a crucial tool that shares experiences and best practices to empower the tourism industry to participate more actively in reef conservation and expand the region’s ability to restore coral reefs.

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Bahamas News

Minister Moxey says AAM2024 is significant to the country

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Making an address on the first day of Afreximbank’s Annual Meetings (AAM) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024 on Wednesday, June 12, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey pointed out the significance of the meetings in The Bahamas, and the impact on Grand Bahama.

It is the first time AAM is held in the Caribbean region.  The 31st AAM sessions run June 12 – 14, 2024 at Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach.  The theme for the event is: “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.”

She said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this AAM and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is critical for nurturing the relationship we have intentionally progressed over the last few years, including the historic signing between Afreximbank and CARICOM, unlocking an astounding $1.5 billion in funding; the many trade missions between both regions; and tomorrow the signing of a Project Preparation Facility with Afreximbank and the Government of The Bahamas on the development of an Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center on Grand Bahama Island – my island — a magnificent center for the promotion of tourism, commerce and trade between both regions.

“As we contemplate the historical ties that bind us, may we recognize the significant role of trade and the immense opportunities that lie before us.

“Trade has always been the lifeblood of economies, and as we join hands to explore new avenues, great things will happen.”

Minister Moxey continued, “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and well-established infrastructure, stands as a gateway…and it is at the crossroads of two-way trade.

“Our beautiful country has emerged as a major transshipment terminal, facilitating the seamless flow of goods and creating linkages across continents.”

The Caribbean region is focused on trade and investment opportunities with Africa, and the meeting in Nassau demonstrates the importance of the matter, she said.

In closing, she said, “The Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center will not only boost economic growth but also strengthen the bonds of friendship and cultural understanding between both regions.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

1st insert –  At the Welcome Reception for Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) at Baha Mar Resort, Wednesday, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey, at podium, gives an address on the importance of the meetings.

2nd insert – In photos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper chats with Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley.

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs and Eric Rose)

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Caribbean News

Caribbean Central Bank Governors agree to NEW Trade Regime for ease of doing business

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 18, 2024 – Regional Central Bank Governors have agreed to implement a system that allows countries in the Caribbean to trade using each other’s currencies without a third-party currency.

Making the disclosure, Governor of the Barbados Central Bank, Kevin Greenidge who is also the Chairman of the CARICOM Central Bank Governors, said it will be a version of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) which was launched by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in January 2022 to reduce reliance on hard currencies like the US dollar for transactions between African nations.

Once it is replicated in the Caribbean, the system could allow goods and services to be paid for directly in the currencies of the respective CARICOM nations involved, rather than being settled in a third currency like the US dollar, arguing thatg the payment system would reduce transaction costs, minimise the need for holding substantial foreign currency reserves, facilitate smoother intra-regional trade and lead to lower retail prices for consumers.

Noting that the decision was unanimous, Mr. Greenidge said “we just had a meeting in May, and we agreed to push ahead with the pilot programme and we have a technical team working out some of the kinks, how to move ahead with the programme. We are approaching that as soon as possible,” he said while addressing the recent AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024), at the Baha Mar Convention Centre in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Central banker who once served as the senior economist who supervised Barbados’ economic restructuring programme for the International Monetary Fund, before taking up the Governor’s job in March 2023, argued that “If we get with one voice and start to speak to these things, call for reforming the way the rating agencies view and assess our position, including debt, we will then make a difference,” he told his audience.

Adding further, he said the region can get where it wants on its own, as he urged both regions to speak with one voice on reforming global financial architecture, while accusing credit rating agencies of bias against small economies.

Speaking with one voice in the Caribbean, in support like the Bridgetown Initiative, Mr. Greenidge believes “we can make a difference.” The Bridgetown Initiative calls for reform of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to better support climate-vulnerable countries.

“The more we can achieve partnerships around the world, the better we are regarding financing and investment in Barbados and providing the necessary diverse products to do the financing we need. Naturally, the African continent would be a partnership,” he said

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Caribbean News

Jamaica Ripe for Business

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#Kingston, Jamaica, June 18, 2024 – Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, says Jamaica is one of the most attractive investment destinations in the Caribbean and is urging more diaspora members to do business in the country.

Senator Hill was addressing a panel discussion on Monday (June 17) on the topic ‘Jamaica Open for Business: Transforming Investment and Enterprise in Jamaica through Diaspora Engagement’ at the 10th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

He cited the stability of the local currency as a key reason to invest in the island.

“There is no foreign exchange control in Jamaica. Clean money comes in and clean money goes out,” he noted.

The fact that the Government has been able to undertake infrastructure development and deliver critical services, particularly during the pandemic, without raising taxes, speaks to the strength of the economy, he said.

“We’ve gone through a pandemic where we had to spend $100 billion of Jamaican money that we didn’t plan to spend and yet we didn’t borrow any new money and we didn’t raise taxes. In fact, for the last eight years…what we have done with taxes is cut them. We cut the payroll tax twice and cut VAT (value-added tax) once,” Senator Hill said.

He added that the infrastructure buildout, real estate potential and Jamaica’s position as the logistics hub of the Caribbean also makes the country attractive to investors.

“This is where your money should be. Come to Jamaica,” Senator Hill appealed.

For Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Financial Group, Grace Burnett, the highly productive and English-speaking talent pool is a major reason Jamaica is open for business.

“Our literacy rate is well over 92 per cent and we have a very stable democracy. When you look at some of the endorsements we have received from overseas institutions on ease of doing business and how we are performing as an economy, we have a very stable, strong regulatory framework and very supportive environment for starting a business and growing a business,” she explained.

Managing Director of JN Fund Managers at JN Group, Brando Hayden, explained that the risk management and infrastructure necessary to give investors comfort is strongly in place.

“When you come to Jamaica, not only are we open for business, your investment or your participation is backed up by solid infrastructure. We have the Jamaica Central Securities Depository and when you invest through the stock market, whether it is a bond, a stock and they also do private equity and private debt, you know there is solid record for your investment. From the depository, you know exactly how much you have and you get your dividend payments,” Mr. Hayden said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of VM Finance Limited and VM Overseas Offices at the VM Group, Leighton Smith, underscored that Jamaica’s economic stability, strategic location, strength of the financial sector, skilled workforce and diverse investment opportunities are factors that make Jamaica attractive to investors.

“What makes Jamaica the perfect landscape is when we think of the trade policies that exist… in terms of being the strategic location, which affords the opportunity to gain access to markets – CARICOM and the United States,” Mr. Smith said.

 

Contact: Judana Murphy

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