This is a short synopsis of what happened at the BTIA meeting last night from a friend...Meeting of the STP 2 last night at Village Council.
I didn’t know what STP was - now I do. Sustainable Tourism Program. It is a move though the Ministry of Tourism, backed by BTB and the development banks and supported by local committees which is devolved through the community (called Local Tourism Committee - LTC), to look after Caye Caulker’s interests, not only as a tourist destination but as a place to live and work for all people.
So this is Phase 2. The first phase was making up the rules and putting the committees together - which reports to Central Tourism Committee. All in place now.
The meeting started with a startling presentation by Sustainable Tourism Program made up of Ministry of Tourism folks and Coastal Zone consultants for the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) They have been studying our island for the past year or so and have another 8 months or so go but they showed up some of their data. They have a specific and scientific way of figuring out how we will cope with global warming, rising sea levels and hurricane activity and how our island will be damaged. They have a number of suggested measures from around the world that they apply to this model to see what may work out best for us, ranging from ‘do nothing’ right up to the other end of the scale which is ‘permanent evacuation’. They are happy to share this information online and through the Ministry of Tourism.
After that Ms Vega (Chair) showed us how the STP committees work and budgets were discussed. They have a mandate (attached) of 6 basic premises, and each member of the committee takes the lead on one of them. Each member recruits 7 people from the community to help them work though their agenda. It is hoped that each member pulls from the local community, the civic community and of course industry stakeholders in tours, hotels, fisherman, construction, and restaurants in order that the feedback is truly community feedback.
One very interesting thing that came up was Mr Yashin Dujon, CEO Tourism, who said that they are hoping that Caye Caulker can become the first Carbon Neutral destination in Belize and perhaps that means the rest of Central America. Carbon Neutral means that we as much carbon as we produce (cars, burning, BEL generators, etc) is balanced by how much we use up.
One of the mandates of the LTC was to market Caye Caulker’s tourism brand. Shouldn’t this be a no brainer? “Come to Caye Caulker - Central America’s (maybe even Caribbean’s) first Carbon Neutral Island Destination” WOW!! We wont need BTB marketing for that - we can manage that part all on our own!! lol!
They are actively working towards reducing import duties on solar panels and all that goes with it including good batteries, duty on biodegradable to-go containers as a start and are looking into viable options for producing Renewable Energy, for example wind and wave technology. one use free plastic bag and incandescent light bulbs should be banned as the first priority.
This is the first public meeting which will be done every 3 months. The committee with the sub groups will meet every month. Sub groups can meet more frequently based on what they need.