Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

Strategic heritage tourism planning will be the focus of the Caribbean's 11th annual Sustainable Tourism Conference in Barbados from May 9 to 12.

Experts will get right into the subject at the opening general session; subsequent workshops and field trips will zero in on contributions and sites specific to Barbados in the field of heritage planning.

"We will examine how the Caribbean can differentiate and enhance its tourism product as it relates to the region's diverse tangible and intangible heritage," said Gail Henry, sustainable tourism product specialist for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, conference organizers along with the Barbados Ministry of Tourism.

Experts will share lessons from various projects and make recommendations on how the Caribbean can maximize the potential of heritage tourism, Henry said.

Selected heritage tourism products and sites in the region as well as best practices to follow and pitfalls to avoid will be examined by panelist Keith Nurse, the director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies' Cave Hill campus in Barbados.

"For many Caribbean countries, the key challenge is how to reconcile the need for a diverse product portfolio of visitor attractions and activities that builds on the region's unique image, brand and selling points," Nurse said.

But at the same time, countries have to take into account the rights of citizens to gain access to their heritage while sustaining the local ecosystems and respecting the need for income-generating activities, Nurse said.

Mary Mahon Jones, a Canadian-based cultural tourism consultant and former CEO of British Columbia's tourism industry association, will explore heritage tourism products.

Unesco will highlight its Youth PATH project, which helps young people manage natural and cultural heritage sites and creates employment for out-of-school youth from troubled communities.

Conference registration information can be viewed at www.onecaribbean.org.

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