LINKED to the outcomes of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the tourism industry has pledged its commitment to promoting a harmonious relationship between economic and environmental objectives.
Speaking at the United Nation's Ocean Conference on the topic of 'Sustainable Coastal and Marine Tourism' held recently in Lisbon, Portugal, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett gave his support to the Ocen Panel's goal of achieving a sustainable tourism economy by 2030.
"As the tourism minister of a small island State that is geographically situated among a cluster of other small islands, I am well-positioned to acknowledge the unquantifiable benefits of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems to the economic vitality of entire populations," he said during his keynote address.
The minister noted that with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicting that marine and coastal tourism will become the largest sector of the global, ocean-based economy by 2030, generating US$777 billion in global revenue and employing 8.6 million people, the role of healthy marine and coastal systems in promoting sustainable tourism was especially worthy of recognition.
Admitting that marine and coastal ecosystems are sometimes threatened by tourism development, the minister said the industry has been responsive to the concerns and also stands ready to support efforts which supports a sustainable ocean economy even as it plays a role in reducing various threats.
Demonstrating its commitment to the ambitious target of achieving 100 per cent sustainable management of the ocean areas under national jurisdictions Jamaica, joining other world leaders of the Ocean Panel in a joint statement issued at the conference, urged all other countries to harness the power of the ocean as a catalyst in delivering on all 17 SDGs as they also assist with mobilising financing for developing states to enhance their capacity to transition to sustainable ocean economies.
"The transition to sustainable ocean economies will also require a set of concrete ideas, strategies, best practices and policies that can be standardised and operationalised by all stakeholders," Bartlett stated.
Highlighting cruise tourism as one of the sectors having some of the most direct impacts on ocean and marine health, Bartlett urged players to continue eco-friendly practices as they push to accelerate gains within the areas of controlling emissions, sewage treatment, fuel efficiency and recycling.
"For marine and coastal tourism to continue to thrive, companies and governments must find solutions to protect the natural resources on which the industry depends. The health and sustainability of our oceans are critical to the survival of the tourism industry and, by extension, our planet," he said.