Will international tourism protect or degrade the natural assets of developing countries? In its continual development of responsible travel strategies, The Lodge at Chaa Creek welcomes an exciting new sustainable tourism project now underway in Belize.
The project, a collaborative effort between Cornell University in the USA and Planeterra, a non-profit organization founded by Gap Adventure, is part of an ongoing program of “supporting communities through travellers’ desire to give back.”
The goal of the project is to help develop better sustainability management tools for the hospitality and tourism industry in Belize. As international tourism is now worth some US$900 billion dollars ($4 billion in Central America alone) and having a major impact on developing nations, the need to ensure that tourism provides long term benefits for host countries and not just short term gain for the industry is crucial.
Gap Adventures’ Marketing Director Richard G. Edwards said. “The hope for this research is to help destinations better understand the value of preserving their natural environments and unique cultures, offering incentives to protect those destinations for new generations of travelers.”
For small countries like Belize this means promoting foreign investment and trade through tourism without sacrificing the nation’s unique social and environmental assets. Situated in the Heartland of the Maya and with a pristine Caribbean coast and reef, Belize has significant natural, cultural and historical assists to protect.
In the coming months, a team of graduate students from Cornell’s Johnson School and College of Architecture, Art and Planning will work with the Belize Tourism Board and researchers at the University of Belize to examine the tourism industry and the costs associated with maintaining a sustainable destination.
Having been actively involved in sustainable, responsible tourism in Belize for thirty years, Chaa Creek managers said they welcome this project and look forward to the results of the study.
“It is so gratifying to see organisations like Planeterra and Cornell University taking an active interest in supporting small countries like Belize in efforts to protect our natural environment and social well being.
“We’ve always believed that tourism has huge benefits for Belize, but it must be carefully managed if it is to be sustainable and provide benefits for our children and their children as well. This is certainly a step in the right direction,” Chaa Creek general manager Lucy Fleming said, adding that sustainable tourism updates will be posted on Chaa Creek’s Belize Travel Blog in coming months.
Photo credit: Belize Biodiversity