This week, The Bahamas began the process of evaluating the sustainability of Nassau’s tourism sector through its participation in the Sustainable Destination Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), supported by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and other partners.

Involvement in the program will help The Bahamas to balance the protection and enhancement of its rich natural and cultural assets, while managing long-term risk and appealing to the growing tourism market interested in responsible management practices and authentic travel experiences.

The Bahamas’ Director General for Tourism, Joy Jibrilu, has noted, “Similar to the other nations in the Caribbean and Latin America region, The Bahamas must ensure that tourism not only acts as an economic activity that generates jobs, but tourism must also serve as a catalyst to attaining strategic objectives such as community development, cultural preservation, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.”

The Bahamas has been blessed with an idyllic natural environment, warm climate, vibrant culture, and friendly people. These assets have enabled it to become the desirable and successful tourism destination that it is today.

“As a small island developing state, The Bahamas must consider the increasing competition in the global tourism market, and act to ensure that the tourism industry remains strong and competitive. We expect that the SDAA’s focus on sustainability, along with tourism management, strategy and marketing, will enhance the future of our tourism industry,” Jibrilu said.

“It’s important to have a positive impact in the places where we do business,” said Rich Pruitt, Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We want The Bahamas to thrive, and becoming a more sustainable destination is critical to that.”

The Bahamas will undergo a three-step process through its participation in SDAA. The first phase began on Monday with a visit from Alliance implementation and convening partner Sustainable Travel International.

Lead assessor Seleni Matus is working closely with Bahamas stakeholders on Sustainable Travel International’s signature Rapid Destination Diagnostic tool. This phase brings key stakeholders in the tourism industry together to evaluate and assess the destination.

The evaluation guides stakeholders to develop a snapshot of the destination’s performance on 118 internationally recognized sustainability indicators. Once complete, the assessment will outline good practices, risks and opportunities, as well as recommendations for improvement, implementation and capacity building.

Matus will return to The Bahamas in March to engage the nation’s tourism leaders in the second step, an action-planning forum. This gathering will help the country’s stakeholders to validate priorities from the first stage of the assessment, and design an action plan to tackle identified “quick win” projects.

In the final phase of SDAA, a destination-monitoring framework will be created for The Bahamas through the development of a proprietary digital Destination Management System (DMS). Collected data can be input into this system, providing the tools to develop customized measurement reports and report on successes.

Thompson, Ramsey, Matus, Pena

 Additional support will be offered to educate and train stakeholders on sustainable tourism practices, and to craft enhanced market positioning focused on sustainability storytelling.

The full list of SDAA partners includes Sustainable Travel International, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL), the Organization of American States (OAS), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the United States Government through the United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States, Central American Tourism Integration Secretariat and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.  

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