Bahamas Wins Top CTO Sustainable Award
NASSAU, Bahamas (16 March 2023) – The Bahamas can officially claim the title of sustainable champion after starting the year off as the winner of the coveted 2022 Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Destination and Stewardship Resilience Sustainable Tourism Award. The announcement was made during the CTO 2022 Virtual Award Ceremony on Wednesday, 15 Feb.
The Destination Stewardship Council Initiative was launched by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Investments & Aviation (BMOTIA) during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to support tourism resilience and recovery by promoting sustainable lifestyles, environmental protections and stewardship in The Bahamas.
“We are not only honoured to be the 2022 Destination Stewardship and Resilience CTO winners but there also exists a great satisfaction in knowing that The Bahamas was able to successfully pivot when tourism, our number one industry, was dealt this tremendous blow of uncertainty by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Latia Duncombe, Director General, BMOTIA.
The Destination Stewardship and Resilience Award Category required entrants to demonstrate how they pivoted their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, or other crises and disasters through new initiatives, strategies, tourism products, services or experiences and how they made continuous strides toward preparation for and mitigation against future crises and disasters.
There were five submissions in the category in which The Bahamas emerged the winner. The first runner up was Jamaica Tourist Board for Jamcovid and JAMICA CARES programme; second runner up was St. Lucia Tourism Authority for teaching global press key Creole phrases and incorporating the national Madras fabric into trade shows & staff uniforms; while St. Kitts Tourism Authority received an honourable mention for notable destination campaigns; beach cleanups & annual Green Camp, themed “Protecting our People, Plants, and Planet”.
“This honour directly speaks to The Bahamas’ resilience as a tourism destination and it also speaks to the confidence that members of our communities who make up our Stewardship Councils across our archipelago, have in our Sustainability Department and the Ministry at large,” said Duncombe.
“I congratulate all stakeholders involved in the sector’s sustainability growth in The Bahamas and extend thanks to the cadre of judges and of course, to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, who over the last two decades have envisioned a Caribbean that leads the world in sustainable efforts,” added Duncombe.
The Bahamas Destination Stewardship Council Initiative is a part of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council that promotes worldwide sustainable development of tourism. The initiative specifically aims to encourage tourism development particularly among community stakeholders to design eco-friendly projects, as well as, starting various culturally enriching projects including heritage site assessments.
Randy Durband, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council in learning of The Bahamas’ win said, “Congratulations to The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Investments and Aviation and the entire Bahamas Family Islands community on this accolade for its groundbreaking Destination Stewardship Initiative!”
Durband continued, “Putting residents and communities at the helm of their own destination management is at the center of the GSTC Destination Criteria, and we are proud to have contributed to the development of this approach and pleased to see all those involved receiving such outstanding recognition as The Caribbean Tourism Organization Destination Stewardship Award.”
Janel Campbell, Manager, Sustainable Development, BMOTIA said the initiative began with only five Destination Stewardship Councils on the islands of Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Exuma, South Andros and Mangrove Cay and North and Central Andros but that number in such a short time has expanded to 9 with the addition of four more destinations (Abaco, Bimini, Grand Bahama, Cat Island). The ultimate goal she said is to have Destination Stewardship Council established on all 16-island destinations.
Destination Stewardship Councils receive continuous support from the Ministry inclusive of capacity building and a bi-annual conclave.
“It has been an exciting journey for the Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation to witness the benefits being experienced and the community initiatives that are being developed as a result of this programme,” added Campbell.