Magazine article International Trade Forum

Striking a Balance with the Future: Saint Lucia's Tourism Success Is Interwoven with Economic Development and Environmental Protection

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Striking a Balance with the Future: Saint Lucia's Tourism Success Is Interwoven with Economic Development and Environmental Protection

Article excerpt

Sustainable tourism is about re-focusing and adapting in the quest to strike a balance between limits and usage. This requires long-term thinking, often over decades, and realizing that change is often cumulative, gradual and irreversible.

Socioeconomic and environmental aspects of sustainable development must include the interests of all stakeholders, including local communities, visitors, industry and government. A very important stakeholder not always included in those plans is the one who is not yet born. Indeed, as defined by the 1987 Brundtland Commission and its report, 'Our Common Future', sustainable development is that which 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.

Sustainable tourism is inextricably linked with sustainable land use, a reality that is critical for small-island developing states (SIDS). One such example is the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, where the destination experience is defined predominantly by natural and marine aspects and by a cultural product interwoven with the physical landscape and environment. With economic security so heavily reliant on a fragile natural resource base, economic development and environmental protection should not be seen as opposing forces, but pursued hand in hand as aspirations that can be mutually reinforcing. Policies and actions must aim to strengthen the benefits and reduce the costs of tourism.

BOOSTING EXPORTS

The Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) is Saint Lucia's national agency mandated to spearhead the island's export development effort. It works to increase aggregate volume and value of exports from Saint Lucia; promote and expand business in international markets; and help businesses improve profitability and long-term sustainability. These outcomes are pursued through sectoral representation on business and trade policy. In addition, information services keep the sector abreast of global trade trends, trade facilitation and promotion and, marketing support to penetrate new and existing markets.

The inescapable interdependencies that exist between our clients and the environmentally reliant tourism sector underpins the rationale for the deliberate alignment of the work of the agency mandated to market Saint Lucia as a tourist destination--the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (formerly the Saint Lucia Tourist Board). A priority for TEPA has therefore been to ensure that small producers who use raw materials in environmentally sustainable proportions have a secure place in the manufacturing and tourism value chains.

One such example is a collaboration between these sister agencies for the staging of the annual Love Elevated Wedding Symposium, taking advantage of the island's standing as an a favourite location for weddings. TEPA's input was the production and launch of a Simply Beautiful Weddings. An online catalogue the gave suppliers--florists, venue operators, producers of unique gifts, handcrafted jewelry, fashion and mementos--year-round worldwide visibility in an ever-evolving and expanding wedding industry.

PARTNERSHIPS

TEPA is also pursuing these objectives through partnerships with other business-facilitation agencies like the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries (SLCSI), which works to organize service producers. …

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