An overhead shot of Barbuda following Hurricane Irma
Just under a million less tourists visited the Caribbean following hurricanes Irma and Maria last year, costing the region over $700 million, according to a report from the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council.
“The hurricane season resulted in an estimated (loss) in 2017 of 826,100 visitors to the Caribbean, compared to pre-hurricane forecasts,” said the report.
Those tourists could have spent US$741 million and sustained more than 11,000 jobs, it said.
With their turquoise waters and coral reefs, Caribbean island destinations rely heavily on tourism, which provides 15.2 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product and sustains 14 per cent of its labor force, according to the report.
Worldwide, the average contribution of tourism to GDP is 10.4 per cent.
Massive Sargassum seaweed blooms are becoming increasingly frequent in the Caribbean. The seaweed covers the beaches in huge, stinking blankets that sometimes measure up to 10 feet in depth. As it rots, the seaweed emits a toxic gas known as hydrogen sulphide, which smells of rotting eggs. (Photo via GEF)
Sargassum is free-floating brown macro-algae that lives in the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. In the open ocean, the floating seaweed provides important ecosystem services by acting as habitats for a diverse group of marine animals. It provides food, shade, and shelter to many types of specialized fish, crustaceans, and turtles. When it reaches the coastline, it provides fertilizer for the plant ecosystems that protect the shoreline from erosion and promotes biodiversity of marine bird and wildlife.
Since 2011, excessively large quantities of Sargassum have accumulated in the Caribbean Sea, only to wash ashore in several Caribbean countries. Massive Sargassum seaweed blooms are becoming increasingly frequent in the Caribbean. The seaweed covers the beaches in huge, stinking blankets that sometimes measure up to 10 feet in depth. As it rots, the seaweed emits a toxic gas known as hydrogen sulphide, which smells of rotting eggs.
The seaweed creates an extreme lack of oxygen in the sea close to shore, killing off native species and resulting in dead zones by first robbing the water of nutrients before they die and absorbing oxygen out of the water to decompose. It fouls the beaches, not just for the visiting tourists who contribute to the local economies, but also for several endangered species of marine turtles. The turtles have to dig through several feet of seaweed to lay their eggs or climb beyond the seaweed mats to find clear sand. Later, their hatchlings get entangled in the seaweed on their way to the ocean and die.
On the east coast of Saint Lucia, a local youth by the name of Johanan Dujon noticed how the piles of seaweed were causing trouble for the local fishermen by damaging their equipment and boat engines, as well as complicating their daily lives by making landing difficult upon return from fishing trips. The budding entrepreneur recognized an opportunity to capitalize on this freely available resource to create valuable organic agricultural inputs, which could in turn reduce and eventually replace the environmentally harmful synthetic chemicals used to grow food in St. Lucia. In 2014, Dujon founded Algas Organics and began experimentation with formulations to make this idea a reality.
Roseau, Dominica – March 18, 2018 marks six months since a powerful Category 5 hurricane slammed the island nation of Dominica. Six months following Hurricane Maria, Dominica has made major progress in restoring routes to and from the island, essential services and amenities, and transportation throughout the island.
“Nothing is better for our recovery from Hurricane Maria than visitors to our island,” says Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority. “We have made significant progress in getting the island ready for guests. Whether it’s for a relaxing getaway, special event or meaningful travel, visitors will see the same vibrant spirit of our people and beautiful scenery and features that make Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean.”
Dr. Richard Brown, Director, Single Market and Sectoral Programmes at the CARICOM Secretariat, will join Dr. James Fletcher as the keynote speakers at the upcoming first Annual Enterprise Development Forum and Marketplace (EDFM) to be held 13-14 June, 2018, in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has announced.
Dr. Brown, an International Trade Specialist, will make a presentation on Regional Business and Trade Facilitation and open the proceedings for the second day of panel discussions aimed at findings solutions to the various problems identified.
Dr. Fletcher, Sustainable Development Specialist and author, will open the event with discourse on Sustainability Defined. Dr. Fletcher has extensive knowledge in the field representing Saint Lucia and the Region internationally, during his tenure as the Minister for Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, throughout his career as the Director of Social and Sustainable Development at the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and, as the Cabinet Secretary in the Government of Saint Lucia, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Dominica, the Nature Isle, months after Hurricane Maria struck.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (March 12, 2018) – When the XXIV Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism opens on Wednesday, March 21 at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, one of the key areas for presentations and discussions will be the matter of building resilience in the Tourism sector in the Americas.
In the latter months of 2017, the hemisphere of the Americas received a painful reminder of the relevance and significance of this theme after several countries felt the devastating impacts of hurricanes, floods, fires and earthquakes. In fact, 2017 is regarded as a record-setting year for natural disasters in terms of the number, severity and financial costs of the disasters that occurred.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria that lashed the region last year prompted both emergency and strategic responses as property was destroyed almost overnight and economic livelihoods compromised. While in no way minimising the need for resilience due to storms and natural disasters, the Congress is taking a wider view of the concept of resilience, preferring to see it as a concept that embraces a more comprehensive range of strategies and measures that governments need to adopt in order to ensure the survivability of the sector. (more…)