Tue | Dec 1, 2020

CONTRIBUTIONS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE TO TOURISM TO BE CELEBRATED

Published:Wednesday | August 7, 2019 | 12:14 AM
Colonel Commander Marcia Douglas of the Charles Town Maroon community shows the usage of an old iron.
Colonel Commander Marcia Douglas of the Charles Town Maroon community shows the usage of an old iron.

A Session at Sustainable Tourism Conference in St Vincent and the Grenadines will demonstrate how indigenous communities are embracing entrepreneurial opportunities through tourism

Today’s travellers are booking experiential vacations that allow them to immerse themselves in the culture, people, and history of a destination. Recognising this, indigenous communities across the Caribbean are accessing tourism markets and welcoming visitors to encounter their traditional ways of life.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will highlight this important development in a general session at the upcoming Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development taking place August 26-29, 2019, at the Beachcombers Hotel in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The panel titled ‘Indigenous Conversations – Celebrating Our Past, Embracing Our Future’, is scheduled for 27 Aug. The session will look at the changing composition of local livelihoods and demonstrate how the region’s indigenous people have a tangible role and stake in the Caribbean tourism value chain. Indigenous communities are utilising tourism markets to embrace expanded entrepreneurial opportunities, adding new dimensions to their sources of income and creating niches that are increasingly sought after.

Session speakers include Uwahnie Martinez, the director of Palmento Grove Garifuna Eco Cultural & Fishing Institute in Belize, a private island retreat owned and operated by local Garifuna people; Colonel Marcia “Kim” Douglas, colonel of Jamaica’s Charles Town Maroon Community; a representative of the Indian Creek Mayan Art Women’s Group of Belize; and Rudolph Edwards, the toshao (chief) of Rewa village in Guyana, a small Amerindian community of about 300 people, mostly from the Makushi tribe, who founded the Rewa Eco-Lodge in 2005 in an effort to protect their land for generations to come.

DEVELOPING INDIGENOUS HERITAGE

The session will be led by Dr Zoila Ellis Browne, who was born in Belize and is the head of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation in St Vincent and the Grenadines, where she is committed to the development of her indigenous heritage. A magistrate by profession, Browne also volunteers as technical programme consultant to the foundation, a Vincentian non-governmental organisation promoting Garifuna heritage and culture.

The conference, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019), is organised by the CTO in partnership with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority.

Under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification,” industry experts participating in #STC2019 will address the urgent need for a transformational, disruptive, and regenerative tourism product to meet ever-rising challenges. The full conference programme can be viewed https://www.caribbeanstc.com/program/

St Vincent and the Grenadines will host STC amid an intensified national thrust towards a greener, more climate-resilient destination, including the construction of a geothermal plant in St Vincent to complement the country’s hydro and solar energy capacity and the restoration of the Ashton Lagoon in Union Island.