Cayman Islands -- Global warming, health and wellness tourism,
developing a spa business and protecting the fragile coral reef
system in the Caribbean were prevalent topics at the Caribbean
Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development here.
More than 300
delegates and government tourism officials from the region attended
the annual event last week, which was organized by the Caribbean
Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Cayman Islands
Department of Tourism and the Caribbean Hotel
Among the topics
discussed was the idea of developing the Caribbean region as a
wellness center aimed at tourists seeking more than just a
Steve Andrew, CEO
of Soothing Touch Da Spa in Barbados and a board member of the
Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association, advocated marketing the
Caribbean's abundance of indigenous products and healing
As an example, he
said, "Europeans do not want to travel to the Caribbean for a
Swedish massage. We should brand a unique Caribbean treatment and
call it the Irie Massage."
president of the International Medical Spa Association, echoed that
vacation is so well-branded that it is difficult to get people to
think beyond the beach," Light said. "To change that may take three
to five years, with success based on marketing strategies that go
beyond just heads on beds."
discussed the potential for developing community-driven tourism,
such as the Grand Cayman Go East Initiative, which promotes tourism
on the island's less-crowded east coast.
the Cayman Islands' minister of tourism, environment, investment
and commerce, called for a balance between environmental, economic
and sociocultural aspects of tourism development.
future of the Cayman Islands tourism industry does not lie in mass
tourism," Clifford said.
As an example, he
cited the destination's new comprehensive customer service program,
which is in the process of being implemented.
will deliver high-quality service by enhancing the skills of
frontline staff," Clifford said. "This will assist us in raising
customer service from good to great."
Islands, keenly aware of its status as a prime dive destination,
passed amendments to its marine conservation law to regulate
interactions between marine life and divers. The amendments take
effect in June.
restrictions at the Sandbar and Stingray City dive locations
include their designation as Wildlife Interaction Zones, which
prohibits dive boats from anchoring in water that is less than four
feet deep or closer than 20 feet to any reef.
Another hot topic
at the conference was the issue of climate change, which Clifford
described as "widely recognized as one of the most serious
environmental issues facing the world."
He called on the
international community to increase efforts to tackle the
"No one nation
can solve this crisis on its own," Clifford said. "But each can
begin by acknowledging the challenges and opportunities ahead for
government, private enterprise and civic society in meeting these
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