A new Caribbean “guide” to coral reef restoration


Healthy coral reefs are not only essential to the Caribbean ecosystem, they are also vital to the Caribbean tourism economy.

That’s the impetus behind a major new guide to coral reef restoration specifically for the Caribbean tourism industry.

The new “guide” which can be found herepresents best practices for coral restoration, as well as key opportunities for the tourism industry.

More importantly, it helps overcome the barriers that “until now have prevented the Caribbean tourism sector from engaging substantially in efforts to conserve the marine environments that draw millions of visitors to the region each year,” according to the Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, and the United Nations Environment Program, which jointly released the set of guidelines.

“TNC, UNEP, CHTA and CAST developed these new guidelines because we recognized that the tourism sector has a great opportunity to amplify coral conservation,” says Ximena Escovar-Fadul, Senior Associate, Planning and ocean mapping at TNC. “In response to the coral reef crisis, tourism businesses and consumers have turned to more sustainable travel options. Beyond this “do no harm” mindset, there is growing interest in travel activities that can proactively help nature. For example, travelers want to know how they can offset their carbon emissions or help restore the environments that make them happy when visiting a destination, such as coral reefs.

Reef tourism in the Caribbean is estimated to generate nearly $8 billion annually, or about 25% of all tourism spending in the region.

This number comes from around 11 million visitors to the region, more than a third of the annual stay in the Caribbean compared to visits.

Coral reefs and the important ecosystem services they provide are essential to economies and communities across the Caribbean. They generate over US$8 billion a year for the tourism industry, but they are under serious threat. It is estimated that more than half of the region’s living corals have disappeared in the past 50 years,” says Ileana Lopez, Regional Coordinator – Biodiversity and Ecosystems, UNEP Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. “The restoration of degraded coral reef ecosystems is only possible when political and financial support, scientific innovation and the active participation of local actors are combined.”

The guide was developed after months of surveys and discussions with stakeholders in the Caribbean tourism industry.

“Tourism in the Caribbean and around the world has suffered a devastating downturn with the pandemic. But as the industry regains its footing, there is a key window of opportunity to attract a wider group of consumers and protect the resources on which tourism depends by providing sustainable travel options and engaging in meaningful conservation. said Nicola Madden-Greig, president of the CHTA. “This is where the advice of our conservation partners becomes essential. Many tourism businesses take a sustainable approach and want to actively contribute to coral conservation, but they lack the technical expertise. Or they have completed a pilot reef restoration project but lack the capacity to scale up the work. As we continue to share scientific research and best practices, and address the conservation challenges facing the tourism sector, CHTA and CAST aim to transform travel in the Caribbean, so that it not only exists in harmony with our natural world, but also that they benefit from it.

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