St Kitts and Nevis, Pioneers in Sustainable Tourism

Caribbean 360 reports that St Kitts and Nevis is the only Caribbean country among the four pioneering early adopters of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) new criteria for destinations. (The others are Fjord, Norway; Teton County, Wyoming,;and Mount Huangshan in China.)

The GSTC criteria for destinations describe the minimum standards that a destination must reach in order to move toward social, cultural, and environmental sustainability — maintaining the cultural and natural attractions that tourists come to see, while benefitting the local population. “After many months of hard work developing these criteria, we are excited to see them implemented,” said Erika Harms, executive director of the GSTC. “This will be a real-world test, incorporating the voices of multiple stakeholders: local communities, government agencies, NGOs, and the tourism industry itself.”

The four destinations involved in this pilot program reflect a variety of landscapes, ranging from tropical islands to a region not far from the Arctic Circle. They were chosen for their positive impact on the environment, their economic and social benefits to communities, and their education of visitors and residents, among other criteria. Some are already pioneers in sustainable tourism; others are just beginning to set out on the path toward sustainability.

The twin-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis is relatively new to tourism, certainly when compared to some of its Caribbean neighbours. However, the destination has seen exponential growth in cruise visitors over the last few years and the government is eager to make sure that this development happens sustainably and with the preservation of the local culture and environment in mind.

[. . .] In the coming months, a sustainable tourism consultant will visit each of these early-adopter destinations to see the criteria implemented, and to provide valuable feedback as the GSTC finalizes the destination criteria. Once the GSTC publishes its revised criteria, these early-adopter destinations will have the opportunity to apply for formal recognition that they operate in accordance with these universal principles of sustainable tourism.

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