The Daily Herald writes that Bonaire and Saba are respectively ranking number one and two in the Caribbean in the Global Sustainable Tourism Review. The islands are highly recommended as sustainable, attractive vacation destinations in the region. St. Eustatius is at number fourteen while St. Maarten is a lot lower on the list at number 28.
The list on the sustainability of destinations was published by Dutch organisation QualityCoast on the occasion of World Tourism Day on Friday. As part of the Coast and Sea research, 1,000 islands and coastal areas worldwide were analysed on their sustainability and “green” values. The researchers looked at the marine life, nature, landscape, coast, environment, cleanliness of the sea, beach quality, hotels and the cultural and social relation to sustainability. Destinations received green (good), yellow (medium) and red (bad) in these categories. A total of 31 destinations in the Caribbean were reviewed.
Saba scored green in the areas of marine life, nature, landscape, coast and the social aspect. It scored yellow in the categories of environment, clean sea, beach quality and culture. The hotel sector received a red score in its efforts to protect the environment and be sustainable. Bonaire received more or less average scores, but its hotel sector and the general environment were found to be more sustainable.
Bonaire and Saba will be nominated for a Quality- Coast BasiQ Award 2014 after the islands have submitted additional information on, among other things, the efforts that they made locally in 2013 on the availability of a strategy for sustainable tourism, the separate collection of trash (paper, glass, plastics, etc.), sewage water treatment to safeguard the quality of sea water and green energy. Bonaire and Saba will be able to increase their score in January 2014 when they are able to comply with these conditions. Destinations that won’t be able to do so will see their score reduced.
St. Eustatius has also scored for a BasiQ Award 2014, but still has to supply information to the Quality-Coast organisation. Statia’s hotels and landscape were rated red, marine life, coast and the social aspect green. Nature, environment, clean sea, beach quality and culture scored yellow. Number three on the Caribbean
list was St. John in the US Virgin Islands, number four Dominica and number five Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. Curaçao scored seventh, St. Barths eighth, St. Kitts and Nevis number 12 and 13, St. Martin number 15 and Aruba 17. In French St. Martin, marine life and the social aspect scored green, while nature, coast, environment, clean sea, beach quality and culture were awarded yellow. Hotels and landscape were placed in the red zone. Dutch St. Maarten didn’t do too well on the list. Only two destinations in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica were rated lower. These three destinations, Runaway Bay in Jamaica, and Susua Puerto Plata and Bahia Maimon in the Dominican Republic, were not recommended for green and culture tourism. St. Maarten received red marks for nature, landscape and hotels. It scored yellow in marine life, coast, environment, clean water, beach quality and culture. In the social category, it scored green. The Portuguese island group, the Azores, was qualified as the most sustainable vacation destination in the world. The Netherlands has the largest number of internationally acclaimed destinations with QualityCoast Gold awards for Noordwijk, Goedereede, Oostvoorne-Rockanje, Schouwen-Duiveland and Ameland.
Researchers concluded that in general, islands around the world were better in preventing mass tourism than the coastal destinations. It was also concluded that 95 per cent of tourism destinations don’t have a sustainable, green policy, said research leader and Director of Sustainable Development of the Coastal and Marine Union EUCC Albert Salman.
This was the largest published research in the area of sustainability of tourism destinations. All aspects of sustainability were taken into account: social, economic and environmental aspects, according to the People, Planet, and Profit principle. A total of 80 per cent of tourism worldwide is concentrated in coastal areas and small islands. These destinations receive some 800 million visitors per year, which puts a great strain on these places.
Tourists are becoming increasingly critical in choosing their destinations. They look at aspects like nature, human rights, cultural heritage, the environment and the local efforts to be a sustainable destination. The online data base of QualityCoast can guide prospective visitors in making their choice.