The Caribbean Basin, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, is also one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth. Collaboration among the private sector, governments and the conservation community is critical to protect the Caribbean's unique ecosystems, including more than 1,500 coral and fish. Protecting the region's natural beauty is necessary not only to conserve biodiversity, but also to ensure the economic sucess of its number one industry – the travel industry.
We are facilitating partnerships among scientists, conservationists, government officials and tourism business leaders to protect biodiversity. These efforts are focused on building and improving upon existing partnerships and alliances, championing initiatives already in existence, and creating new partnerships and projects that involve the private sector as a key proactive partner.
Co-Organized Chief Executives' Meeting: The meeting, "Making Biodiversity Work for your Travel Business: Increasing Profitability while Protecting the Environment" (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, April 2003), brought together approximately 100 leaders from Caribbean tourism businesses, academia, government and civil society organizations to share experiences and commit to further actions that will not only protect biodiversity but also maintain the Caribbean's competitive edge as a premier tourism destination.
The meeting was organized with Conservation International's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Punta Cana Resort and Club, and Fundacion Ecologica Punta Cana. We are now working with the conference participants to engage the private sector in projects with key Caribbean tourism stakeholders and the conservation community.
Piloting destination partnership process: We have partnered with Conservation International's Andes Center for Biodiversity Conservation, CORALINA, and the Regional Government Corporation established as part of the Colombian National Environment System (SINA) to pilot a destination partnership process in the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve.
The destination partnership process brings together stakeholders to work collaboratively to encourage best practices and establish management mechanisms that limit the negative impacts of tourism, improve environmental management practices, help protect key areas, generate positive contributions for conservation from tourism activities and support the well being of local people. report
Facilitated Ecotourism Participatory Planning Workshop: In partnership with CI's Ecotourism Department and CI's Andes CBC, we facilitated a three-day Ecotourism Awareness and Participatory Planning workshop, in February 2003, for the San Andres Archipelago and Seaflower Biosphere Reserve.
At the workshop, major stakeholder groups, represented by approximately 35 participants, had the opportunity to discuss their future in tourism and produce an initial plan for developing ecotourism. This workshop resulted in plans to develop a Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and two training workshops: The Ecotourism Product Development Workshop and a workshop for local hoteliers.