In 2014, The Bahamas embarked on the Sustainable Destination Alliance for the Americas initiative, funded by a matching grant from Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCL), working with its partner, Sustainable Travel International (STI). The initiative would assist The Bahamas in evaluating and improving destination management performance and embedding sustainability metrics into targeted destination strategies.



Sustainable Travel International (STI)

Implemented in

  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Bahamas

Sector of activity
Tourism

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Research, Analysis, Assessment

Type of lead actor
Government / public sector

Budget
38000 US$

Start date
11/02/2015

Shared by

Kristal Bethel

Director, International Relations

Ministry of Tourism of Bahamas

Send an email

Objectives

The Bahamas is one of several Caribbean destinations engaging in the Sustainable Destination Alliance for the Americas initiative, (SDAA) which is a multi-sectoral partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Organization of American States (OAS), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCI), Sustainable Travel International (STI) and Central American Tourism Integration Secretariat (CATI) in partnership with Caribbean governments, aims to establish sustainable Destination Alliance for the Americas (SDAA).

The goal of SDAA is to launch the alliance with seven destinations this year, expanding to 30+ destinations over the next several years.Through performance measurement strategies, the Sustainable Destination Alliance for the Americas initiative (SDAA) aims to assist The Bahamas and other SDAA destinations in benchmarking and enhancing tourism management at a destination level and developing strategies that would advance the destination along a path to more sustainable management.

The initiative seeks to aid destination management and private sector actors identify destination management priorities, improve decision-making and measure results based on defined and actionable targets.

Involvement in the program is also expected to assist The Bahamas in balancing the protection and enhancement of its natural and cultural assets while managing long-term risk. In light of growing competition in the global tourism market, the initiative is expected to assist The Bahamas in promoting sustainability and enhance its appeal to the growing tourism market interested in responsible management practices and authentic travel experiences.


Activities

In 2015, the destination of Nassau/Paradise Island underwent a three-step process with lead accessor, Seleni Matus of Sustainable Travel International (STI), the Alliance's convening partner with responsibility for conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the destination.

The first step of the process involved site visits and focus group meetings, workshops and interviews with key individuals in stakeholder organizations. Outputs were to include a Rapid Destination Diagnostic, Action Planning Workshop, Destination Monitoring System Access and a Final Report.

In the second step of the process, the assessor was to engage the nation's tourism leaders in an action-planning forum and design of an action plan to identify "quick win" projects.

In a final phase of SDAA, a destination monitoring framework was to be established through development of a proprietary digital Destination Management System to collect data and customize measurement reports. Additional support was also offered to educate and train stakeholders on sustainable tourism practices and craft enhanced market positioning based on sustainablity storytelling.

STI completed site visits, meetings, interviews, etc and the Rapid Destination Diagnostic or performance assessment of the destination of Nassau/Paradise Island. The results of this initiative identified areas in Nassau/Paradise Island targeted for improvement around four themes: (1) Destination management; (2) Community Involvement & Benefits; (3) Cultural and Natural Heritage Management; (4) Environmental Conservation.

Impact and Results

The RDD noted vulnerabilities around these four themes which the Ministry of Tourism addressed in feedback sessions with STI, as follows:
1. Sustainable tourism planning, standards development and accessibility: The Ministry of Tourism outlined its strategic priorities and service providers and private sector were asked to indicate their priority issues.

2. Community engagement & support of local enterprise: The Ministry of Tourism is in the process of establishing the Tourism Development Corporation to facilitate access by local entrepreneurs to the tourism marketplace. Additionally, the government in 2018 launched the Small & Medium Sized Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDA) to facilitate private sector growth and development of entrepreneurial activity throughout the country through technical support and grants. Prospective entrepreneurs engage in a rigorous programme of education, training and exposure to market dynamics, accounting, record-keeping and other busines-related activities. This initiative was launched by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the University of The Bahamas and the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) provides technical support and resources to facilitate growth of the small businesses in the agricultural and marine sectors.

3. Recording and inventorying Natural & Cultural & Heritage and Visitor management planning & monitoring. Different agencies have inventoried natural and cultural stock.
The Ministry of Tourism is in the process of developing a database of attractions as well as cultural and heritage assets for monitoring and management of Nassau/Paradise Island product. Additionally, ten percent of the National Park System, overseen by various government agencies and NGO's is monitored for tourism impacts. These agencies have identified needs and are currentlyseeking financial support to improve management oversight and expansion of oversight to twenty percent of protected parks.

4. Environmental Conservation
The Ministry for the Environment and Housing has carriage of environmental policy and planning. It’s agency, the BEST Commission evaluates integrity of environmental conditions through monitoring of EIAs & EMPs. The BEST Commission is preparing its stocktaking consultation workshop and will conduct an intensive review of major national actions, identify gaps and inputs on identification of national capacity needs in June 2019.

Next steps and how to get involved

The Ministry of Tourism's database is currently in testing phase. No launch deadline has been confirmed to date. Interested persons may contact Miss Janel Campbell, Sustainable Development Unit, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism at (242) 397-2707 or via email at jcampbell@bahamas.com