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Making Biodiversity Work for Your Travel Business
April 2003, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Tourism companies are recognizing that high quality travel products and an economically successful tourism industry depend largely on the health of the surrounding environment. However, the Caribbean Basin, which is home to over 1,550 species of corals and fishes as well as a thriving tourism industry, is currently under threat. Protecting this region and the unique biodiversity that it harbors requires the collaboration of the private sector, government and civil society organizations.

Creating a forum for Conservation
The meeting, held at the Punta Cana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic from 24-26 April 2003, focused on creating and committing to initiatives that both protect the biodiversity of the Caribbean and make sound business sense for travel companies operating in the region. The event served as a forum for nearly 100 leaders from Caribbean tourism businesses, academia, government, and civil society organizations to come together, share experiences, and commit to further actions that will not only protect biodiversity but also maintain the Caribbean’s competitive edge as a premier tourism destination.

Commitments to Protect Biodiversity

The meeting was focused on creating concrete commitments to protect biodiversity through partnerships that include scientists, conservationists, government officials, and tourism business leaders. Over the course of the two days, participating organizations identified five key areas on which to focus their energy and collaborate:

Protected areas— Identify priority areas by overlapping key biodi-versity areas and tourism attractions. Within these areas, involve the private sector in declaring, establishing and managing the protected areas.

Education and awareness building—Educate customers, employees, and local representatives on the importance of biodiversity in the Caribbean and behaviors necessary to protect it.

Destination partnerships—Promote collaboration between the private sector, civil society, local communities and government in Caribbean destinations to ensure that environmental and social issues are ad-dressed when making decisions about infrastructure development and tourism’s use of local resources.

Supply chain management — Introduce sustainability criteria, with a focus on biodiversity, in contracts for suppliers of tourism goods and services such as excursion and accommodations providers.

Tourism development planning— Undertake tourism zoning to allow for the provision of services, as well as the conservation of biodiversity, and seeking regional government support to achieve this.

Conclusions and next steps
By the conclusion of the workshop, many of the participants had made commitments to build and improve upon existing partnerships and alliances, to champion the initiatives that had been discussed, and to improve the channels for the dissemination of critical information that would serve the decision making process. Members of the organizing committee, along with conference participants, are now developing a mechanism to facilitate communication between key Caribbean tourism stakeholders. This effort seeks to develop appropriate partnerships and ensure sufficient resources in order to successfully implement projects that protect Caribbean biodiversity while providing tourism business benefits.

The organizing committee would like to thank US Department of State,Chevron Texaco, ExxonMobil for their generous support of this event.


Photo: CI, Laury Saligman
Former U.S President Bill Clinton, and Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, President of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment.

Fact Sheet
Event Report
Organizing Committee
Resource List

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks