Author: Edward W. (Ted) Manning, Ottawa.

Based on several research projects by Dr Edward W. (Ted) Manning, President, Tourisk Inc. focused on green development in islands and coastal zones and a report prepared as input to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Green Economy.

Executive Summary

  • Tourism ls now one of the largest industries on the planet, and has great potential to stimulate the green economy in SIDS. Tourism is vital to most SIDS, either current or potential, with huge economic impact and importance; for many SIDS it is their largest source of foreign exchange and the driver of their development. Achieving levels of sustainability in tourism development has long-term benefits to both investor, hotel chains and local stakeholders.
  • The consequences of tourism can be either positive or negative. Tourism contributes to the national balance of payments and the creation of jobs, but it also creates enormous pressure on environment and energy resources as well as having impacts on the local culture.
  • It is in the interest of the tourism industry to sustain the destinations it targets. In many SIDS, tourism is the principal economic sector and its approach to development will sustain or harm the destination. International tourists and cruise passengers can outnumber inhabitants of SIDS (in some cases on a single day) and their choices have significant impact on the destinations and on tourism sites. Action to sustain SIDS as attractive destinations will benefit both tourists and locals.
  • Integrated planning of destinations incorporating tourism is essential. For many SIDS the boundaries of the state and the destination are the same, and tourism is the predominant economic sector. To benefit to the greatest extent possible from the green economy SIDS will need to adopt comprehensive tourism planning embedded in their national planning process and where appropriate fully integrated with an overall national plan.
  • SIDS have many disadvantages in location, size and institutions which can act as barriers to the acquisition and adoption of best environmental practice in their tourism industry. It will be important to examine the means by which each state can better understand its own situation and review the barriers to taking advantage of the green economy, including legal and regulatory barriers to use of new technologies.
  • More than many other destinations, the reduction of consumption of energy and water resources in SIDS can be very economically attractive. There are many success stories from SIDS where the international hotel and resort industry is adopting state of the art methods to reduce energy and water consumption. Where these resources are most constrained, the attractiveness of efficient alternatives including conservation can be amplified. Best practice in some resorts in SIDS (e.g., chains like Banyan Tree, Six Senses) can be models for others.
  • While many large international tourism companies are adopting better practices which bring environmental benefits, these practices are not generally being adopted by the smaller firms, particularly in developing states. While international firms may have access to best practice through the company, smaller firms in SIDS have disadvantages associated with scale and distance from suppliers and expertise which are obstacles to obtaining information about and adopting new technologies and improved management practices associated with the green economy. Many firms are also realizing that the ecological advantages associated with reduction of negative impacts are a benefit, reducing the risk of damage to the ecosystems and attractions on which their success is built. Sharing of this among industry players is not strong.
  • There are potential benefits from cooperation among SIDS. Together small states will have greater leverage in negotiation with international companies, in setting standards and in obtaining access to best practice, particularly in areas like the Caribbean or South Pacific where they share the same tourism market. There are also significant potential advantages for SIDS to work together to deal with the large resort and cruise line corporations, transport sector and tour operators, international agencies and NGOs aimed at obtaining their help in greening the destinations and at establishing compatible regulatory frameworks and standards.
  • Documentation and exchange of success stories among SIDS will be important. There are many examples of best practice now available within SIDS and suitable to their needs. There is limited effective exchange now of expertise or examples and this needs to be improved.

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