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Good advice is scarce, so let’s take it

Good advice is scarce, so let’s take it

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The signing ceremony for the Marriott hotel takes place today at Private Mt Wynne beach. The entry of Marriott onto our tourism landscape is significant as it is the first luxury hotel brand to be attracted to the mainland.

Today’s development comes just weeks after the very successful 2019 Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism (STC2019), which was hosted here in St Vincent under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification”.

That conference and its particular focus came not a moment too soon for St Vincent and the Grenadines. The conference considered the changing and challenging tourism market in which we compete and best practices for the intersection of tourism with the natural, built and cultural environment.

As efforts to develop the tourism product on mainland St Vincent intensify, we must ensure that we do not move so quickly that we fail to learn from the mistakes of others who have gone before. Moreover, we have to get right, the balance between (i) the development of the tourism plant, (ii) the preservation and protection of the natural environment, (iii) the establishment of a profitable and sustainable business model, (iv) the maintenance of traditional rights of access to the beaches and (iv) the direct involvement of locals so that they and their businesses benefit financially.

In her keynote address to the CTO conference, Barbados’ ambassador to the United Nations Elizabeth Thompson warned that far too often, in pursuit of increased tourism arrivals and receipts, sound technical advice is cast aside, ignored and in many cases never sought at all.

Let that not be the case in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Hopefully, we have learned from the mistakes made over the last almost 30 years with hotel development in Canouan and Buccament.

We must work together to make the Mt Wynne / Peters Hope area an international model for sustainable tourism development. Once we get it right, our product will sell itself and be sustainable. From the design of the hotel to minimize its carbon footprint and the removal of natural foliage; the management contracts into which we enter, which should include decent jobs for our people; and the development of the surrounding communities, we can do it.

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