convention establishing the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the
Greater Caribbean (STZC) was signed by the heads of state
and/or government of the Association of Caribbean States in
The convention proposes to contribute to the achievement of
sustainability in the tourist destinations and to determine
tourism indicators, which would bring about changes leading
to the attainment of sustainability in this sector.
More specifically, article 3 of the convention states that
tourism constitutes the main economic activity for most countries
of the region referred to as the Greater Caribbean and that
it represents, in itself, a significant factor in foreign
exchange earnings, economic and social development.
All parties agreed to encourage the realisation of strategies
and specific plans of action toward facilitating the development
of tourist products, an increase in the added value of the
Caribbean tourist product, and greater demand for the region.
The Sustainable Tourism Zone (STZ) is, to the authors
knowledge, a unique initiative which will position the Greater
Carib-bean as the only such zone in the world. The STZ will
also provide new and challenging opportunities for its members
to view and pursue sustainable tourism development from a
different perspective and through the use of sustainability
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) describes the indicators
as measures of existence or severity of current issues,
signals of risk and potential need for action, and means to
identify and measure the results of our actions. Indicators
pinpoint the key issues which tourism planners and managers
Over time, the ACS has launched a series of initiatives aimed
at developing specific criteria for proposed destinations
entering the zone at building capacity in member states. These
have been supported by the Governments of Mexico, the Dominican
Republic and the Foreign Commonwealth OfficeGlobal Opportunities
Fund through the British High Commission.
Member states have been asked to identify and propose tourist
destinations to be included in the zone. Several guidelines
have been developed to assist governments in the initial process
of selecting a tourism destination for inclusion in the STZ.
To facilitate monitoring management and data collection, applicant
tourism destinations should not be a widely spread out area.
This process would be easier if the applicant destination
boundaries are similar to or the same as one or more areas
with specific jurisdictions such as counties, parishes or
other government-defined areas.
Ideally, the destination must be easily defined and should
have a range of tourist facilities and products including
a variety of accommodation and tourist attractions.
Five pilot destinations selected for inclusion in the STZ
in the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama
benefited from sustainability assessments and gap analyses.
A list of recommendations to address the gaps identified and
an action plan were prepared for consideration of tourism
La Romana Bayahibe in the Dominican Republic was recently
used as a test site for the first ACS workshop on using the
tourism sustainability index, a quantification system developed
to capture the level of sustainability across all dimensions
in a single number.
These initiatives have served to create a greater level of
awareness amongst member states and enhance the visibility
of the zone within the Greater Caribbean and beyond. The results
of the pilot cases will serve to inform future initiatives
and act as a catalyst for resource mobilisation efforts aimed
at fully establishing the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the
Jasmin Garraway is the sustainable tourism director of
the Association of Caribbean States. The opinions expressed
are not necessarily the official views of the ACS. Comments
and reactions can be sent to [email protected]