Insight Caribbean Insight Young voices are heard in sustainability conversation By Gay Nagle Myers / August 04, 2015 Share 1 -- One carrier has come up with a novel approach to the issue of sustainable tourism that involves science, students and scholarships.JetBlue recently launched a program to increase planning for sustainable tourism in the Caribbean region through grants to students who will focus on using science to improve the travel experience for customers and communities now and in the future. The grants highlight the airline’s commitment to education and the environment and focus on the impact of climate change in the Caribbean.For the first year of the grant, JetBlue partnered with the Center for Responsible Travel (Crest) to offer two student scholarships to attend Crest’s and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation’s conference, Innovators Think Tank: Climate Change and Coastal & Marine Tourism, held recently at the Punta Cana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic.From a field of 90-plus applicants, two recipients were selected: Stefan Knights from Hugh Wooding Law School in Barbados and Katrina Khan from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad & Tobago. The conference revolved around the theme of how coastal and marine tourism must be planned, built and operated in the era of climate change. “Too often conferences and think tanks are out of reach for students. These grants open the door to the community of students who have cutting-edge ideas about sustainable tourism,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, head of sustainability for JetBlue.“If tourism in the Caribbean is going to flourish through a changing climate and increased ecosystem pressures, the tourism industry and its brands are going to need support and ideas from universities and students,” she said.The tourism industry can either be part of the problem or part of the solution in dealing with climate change, according to Crest Director Martha Honey. “It is imperative that we engage the next generation in the solution. It’s time to take the blinders off much of our industry and get passionate young people involved in preserving not only tourism-related livelihoods and the environment but our very existence,” Honey said.The outcome of the conference will be showcased in a video documentary titled “Caribbean ‘Green’ Travel” and in a publication, both scheduled for release late this year.