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RESOURCES

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DESTINATION SUSTAINABILITY ASSESMENTS

In 2018, Royal Caribbean, WWF and the GIZ funded three sustainable tourism assessments, under the GSTC criteria, in order to determine the sustainability priorities of each destination.
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Cozumel
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Between December 2017 and April 2018, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) applied the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Destination (GSTC-D) Criteria and assessment methodology, as well as WWF’s Marine and Coastal Tourism Strategy, to identify issues that are undermining Cozumel’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability and to recommend improvements for responsible tourism practices on the island.

 

This assessment builds on earlier studies, including the 2012 Rapid Sustainable Cruise Destination Diagnostic (2012 Rapid Assessment), and is part of ongoing initiatives in Cozumel to demonstrate that properly planned tourism can contribute to healthy livelihoods and ecosystems based on multi-sectoral partnerships. The principal collaborators in the GSTC assessment were WWF-US, WWF-México, GSTC, the Cozumel Municipality, GIZ, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and local stakeholders

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Belize

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Tourism is a key pillar of Belize City’s economy; it is Belize’s main port of call for cruise tourism, it hosts the country’s only international airport, and is a main destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE). It´s especially important to manage tourism carefully in a destination like Belize City, as it´s the country’s largest city and the doorway through which international cruise and air passengers access all that Belize has to offer. Belize City is often the first impression that many visitors have of the country. Current perceptions of the city as crime-ridden and unsafe, lacking quality tourism facilities and leisure services, with limited public spaces, green areas, and recreational facilities, serve as major challenges for the desired development of sustainable tourism.

To help advance Belize City’s strategic objective of pursuing balanced and sustainable tourism development, the GW IITS, in partnership with the WWF and the GSTC, assessed Belize City’s compliance with the GSTC Criteria for Destinations, GSTC’s internationally recognized destination-level criteria and indicators with supplemental indicators reflecting WWF’s Marine and Coastal Tourism Strategy. The GSTC Destination (GSTC-D) Assessment took place from April 2019 through May 2019 and builds on previous research, studies, and initiatives that were designed to assess and improve the sustainability of the tourism sector in Belize City.

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Roatan
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Tourism is a key pillar of Roatan’s economy, as it is the leading port of call for cruise tourism in Honduras. Roatan’s limited resources and the fragile relationship between the local economy, community well-being, and the environment, make it especially important to manage tourism carefully. Research indicates that small islands are particularly susceptible to negative impacts from inadequate destination management. Uncontrolled tourism development can threaten Roatan’s natural and cultural assets and the well-being of the local community through overdevelopment, overcrowding, pollution, and homogenization of the tourism product.

In this context, and to help advance Roatan’s strategic objective of pursuing balanced and sustainable tourism development, the GW IITS, in partnership with the WWF and GSTC, assessed Roatan’s compliance with the GSTC-D using GSTC’s internationally recognized destination-level criteria and indicators, with supplemental indicators reflecting WWF’s Marine and Coastal Tourism Strategy. The assessment took place from November 2018 through April 2019 and builds on previous research, studies, and initiatives that were designed to assess and improve the sustainability of the tourism sector on the island. In particular, it updates the 2013 destination assessment of Roatan completed as part of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas initiative with the support of RCL.

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Goff´s Caye
Belize
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The assessment aimed to provide CZMAI and other stakeholders with an overview of Goff’s Caye’s performance utilizing criteria and indicators for sustainable destination management developed by the GSTC. This assessment will be based on the destination criteria, which was developed to guide sustainable tourism practices based on four pillars identified as Destination Management, Socio-Economic Sustainability, Natural and Cultural Sustainability and Environmental Sustainability. The assessment was conducted over three months, from January to March 2021. This destination assessment and action plan suggests priorities and actions that can be implemented to guide in making the destination more sustainable. These strategic actions were categorized under “strategic thrust” items supported by tables, giving a comprehensive guide regarding activities, timeframe, resources, and key actors.

The assessment used a participatory approach with key actors such as concessionaires and tour operators. When completed, Goff’s Caye score is based on the “traffic light” system that is standard for the GSTC system. The assessment results concluded that 11 indicators were in the green category, 46 indicators were in the yellow category, and 32 indicators were in the red category. Scoring all indicators, Goff’s Caye Global Sustainability Score was 1.41, placing it in GSTC’s Yellow Category. The essence of this being that yellow would be cautionary and red would- be areas of urgent concern. Given this, a workshop was conducted with key actors and priority areas to develop the action plan. These priority areas mainly came from the red and yellow categories.

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Bay Islands, 
Roatan
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This West End's first assessment builds on Roatan's continued commitment and efforts to foster sustainable destination stewardship; Roatan underwent its first Rapid Sustainable Cruise Destination Diagnostic assessment in 2013, followed by a GSTC assessment in 2019, which demonstrated a 32% decrease in areas of risk. This assessment will further put this community on its sustainability path and contribute to the overall improvement of Roatan's sustainability journey.

The results of the West End GSTC destination assessment indicate that 63% of the criteria evaluated were considered "areas of high risk and 8% of medium risk" and an additional 11% of criteria "need improvement." In contrast, the destination showed "good performance" in 18% of the overall assessed criteria. West End showed excellent performance in protecting its sensitive environments thru the collaborative efforts of the local conservation organizations, communities, water board (POLOS), and local governmental agencies, as well as good water stewardship and sewer management. These combined efforts led to Half-moon Bay beach being rewarded the Ecological Blue Flag Certificate in 2019 and is set to receive its recertification in 2021 demonstrating the consistency and commitment of the community of West End in providing clean and safe water for its population, visitors and the reef.

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CARRYING CAPACITY STUDIES

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Carrying capacity (CC) provides valuable information about a destination which may be used to inform decisions in relation to the sustainable development of a destination. As a tool, it can be applied to the tourism activity planning process, particularly in the case of sensitive destinations such as those bordering the Meso American Reef. It also allows destination managers to better manage their visitors, both on a destination level as well as by better managing the tourist attractions their visitors enjoy.

Cozumel
Roatan
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Belize
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TRAIN THE TRAINERS

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Program developed in partnership with:

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) is a non-profit, environmental NGO that is on a mission to save the world’s coral reefs. They work collaboratively with communities to reduce direct threats to reefs in ways that provide long-term benefits to people and wildlife.

CORAL and other MAR Network partners have developed the “Train the Trainers” courses for tour guide operators in the Mesoamerican Reef to more effectively educate tourists about coral reefs and how to protect them.

 

These four Modules cover a number of topics, including reef biology and ecology, the value of coral reefs, the global and local threats they face, what we can do to conserve reefs, and how sustainable tourism can have a major impact.

Links to printed materials

Good Enviromental Practices: Diving & Snorkeling

Voluntary Standards For Sustainable Tour Operators

Voluntary Standards For Sustainable Tour Operators (Spanish)

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TOUR OPERATORS
REGIONAL FORUM

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This forum's objective aimed to conduct a rapid assessment of the MAR destination to identify the MAR cruise tour operators' needs and priorities for a safe reopening of the eventual cruise tourism in the MAR destinations.

 

This was the first edition of the MAR Network Regional Tour Operators forum in collaboration with Coral Reef Alliance, held on March 24, 2021.

 

Tour operators from Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel came together to discuss and define a strategy to address the Destinations´ needs.