CTO Secretary General
CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley (photo source: Travelpulse.com)

Tourism-reliant Caribbean destinations heavily damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria are again accepting leisure visitors while working to rebuild travel and public infrastructure.

Yet, because geography ensures the region will unquestionably experience devastating storms in future years, Caribbean nations are also exploring ways to mitigate their impact.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is at the forefront of the effort, this week launching a Regional Tourism Education and Awareness Campaign intended to “foster a discussion on climate resilience and sustainability on both the regional and international stage,” said CTO officials.

The campaign will extend through November and feature information and materials from CTO-member destinations broadcast via CTO’s FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn social media pages. Barbados-based CaribVision Television and the campaign’s official website will also feature campaign information.

Monthly Campaign features will explore sustainable tourism development themes including tourism-related climate resilience and disaster management, CTO’s role and work in tourism sustainability, a series of “sustainable action challenges” and a directory of key players in Caribbean tourism development.

“The Caribbean tourism product is to a large extent based on the natural environment, and as such CTO and our member countries are committed to safeguarding these resources on which our very lives and livelihoods depend,” said Hugh Riley, CTO’s secretary general of the CTO. “Through the Education and Awareness campaign, it is our intention to inspire and empower the regional tourism stakeholders to concerted action,” Riley said.

The campaign is among a series of activities supporting the Climate Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Industry (CSSCTI) project of the Caribbean Development Bank. CTO’s initiative is dedicated to the memory of Bonita Morgan, a former CTO official and regional advocate of tourism education and human resource development prior to her untimely passing in March, said Riley.

Caribbean destinations headed toward normalcy

CTO’s program launch comes as several CTO-member Caribbean destinations most heavily impacted by September’s storms continue to rebuild their tourism infrastructure.

The countries include Dominica, which has made “major progress” in restoring essential services, amenities and transportation throughout the island six months after Hurricane Maria, said Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority. “Nothing is better for our recovery from Hurricane Maria than visitors to our island,” he said.

About one-half of the country’s hotel rooms have re-opened while several cruise lines are resuming visits to Dominica’s two cruise ship berths, said Piper recently. Regular flight service from regional carriers including LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, Air Sunshine, Coastal Express Carrier and InterCaribbean Airways has also resumed.

While a handful of large resorts remain closed for repairs in Sint Maarten, all of the dual-nation island’s boutique hotels and guesthouses are open and mid-sized properties are either open or soon-to-open according to St. Maarten Tourist Board officials.

Open properties include the Holland House Hotel, Belair Beach Hotel, and Simpson Bay Villas. Meanwhile the Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and The Villas on Great Bay will re-open in April, May and June respectively.

A number of hotels have reopened in recent months in The British Virgin Islands including the Scrub Island Resort & Spa and Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, the Anegada Beach Club, the Cooper Island Beach Club and The Moorings.

This article was originally published on Travelpulse.com.

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