Some ideas on green tourism
By Corretta Sam
THE United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines ‘green tourism’ as tourism activities that can be maintained, or sustained, indefinitely in their social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts. In Guyana, because of our tropical climate, green tourism, if properly promoted, would be of maximum benefit to our country’s growing green economy, especially if it is aligned to the broad objectives of UNEP.
President David Granger, in 2015, made clear his intentions to ‘green’ Guyana one step at a time, starting with Bartica as a model town. In this context, I consider it important that we explore all possible options available to improving our tourism product, and to ensure that sustainable methods are employed to accomplish this goal.
It could be argued, rightly or wrongly, that Guyana is a developing country and is slow to adapt, but we have to start somewhere in order to put an end to constantly being in the “present continuous” and to actually move forward and make greening a success, even if it causes us to implement some unconventional methods to drive the message home.
Either way, this has to be done, and quickly! We must also remember that tourism in Guyana should not be viewed primarily as an eco-product. Eco-tourism is but one key tourism product that Guyana has to offer in terms of attractions — appreciating that green tourism is much more diverse, and ever evolving.
Recognizing that there has been a rural-to-urban population shift over the years, Guyana, notwithstanding, has lots of open spaces that can be used as green spaces in the urban areas — such as Georgetown — as tourists do pass through these spaces on their way to nature resorts. Our parks and other areas, such as community playgrounds, could be transformed into green spaces which will allow people to relax and enjoy nature.
Teaching our youths about conservation and preservation of the environment is a good way to cultivate an appreciation thereof, and to emphasise the benefits to be derived from co-existing with nature. Nature, in this regard, represents not only our forests and ecosystems, but a space where someone feels comfortable and at peace.
Due to changing times, environmentalists, hospitality industry professionals, and other stakeholders should now marry their ideas, especially when dealing specifically with the issue of greening.
In an article titled “A strategy To Increase Green Tourism Competitiveness In Developing Countries”, Alexander Kasterine spoke about opportunities for job creation in the green tourism niche in developing countries, and the work of information communication technology (ICT) in this field. This fits neatly into Guyana’s ICT project that will connect the poor, vulnerable and all other citizens throughout communities, villages, districts and towns in the government’s drive to green Guyana.
Tourism should not be seen as a negative to the environment, but rather as a positive to development. At the same time, we are aware that emissions through air travel present negative consequences to the environment. In this regard, Guyana should consider implementing policies to reduce such impacts to our environment.
Hotels and resorts can also develop innovative ways to implement green systems into their businesses through small steps to make their spaces environmentally friendly.
People are usually adaptable. Tourists, in particular, come for the local experience, and are likely to mimic our locals. In this context, behavioural change is the key to ensuring a smooth transition from the current norms to new norms that are necessary for green tourism. We are too rich to be so poor.
We should continue to embrace the concept of sustaining the environment in a green state by utilising the resources we have at our disposal; the result can be none other than significant economic development. Let us introduce new, sustainable ideas to build a green tourism industry for the benefit of the environment and people of Guyana.
(Ms. Corretta Sam is the Green Tourism Officer within the Ministry of The Presidency. She holds a B.A in Tourism Studies and a Certificate in International Relations from the University of Guyana. She recently completed an extensive MASHAV training programme in Green Growth, Policy Measures and Implementation Tools in Israel. This programme placed specific emphasis on Green Growth and Local Sustainable Economic Development (LSED) Project Design, among others. Her strengths include advocating for the poor and the powerless, research, and implementing ideas until fruition. Comments can be sent to: email@example.com)
Reposted from the Guyana Chronicle, March 26, 2016