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Being a local tourist
Posted: Saturday, May 30, 2009

By Derren Joseph
May 30, 2009

Last weekend, I was online and found some sites referring to last week as Responsible Tourism Week. The week was commemorated by online discussions focusing on responsible tourism around the world. The motto was: "Five Days, Fifty Ways to Make Tourism More Responsible." I suspect that this online effort may be a response to the Ninth Global Travel and Tourism Summit held May 15 and 16 in Brazil—

logoThis conference brought together industry leaders and governments to discuss new forms of partnership to support the global economic recovery. The two themes of the conference were Transforming Economies and Removing Barriers Towards Global Integration Through Travel and Tourism. The contraction in tourism is obviously a problem for many, but for others, it is an opportunity.

Travel agents and tour operators in the UK, for example, are seeing a surge in domestic bookings for summer 2009. One UK travel company told the Telegraph newspaper that, on the day the Met Office announced the good local weather forecast for summer 2009, online bookings for local holidays doubled. Officials at Visit Britain have forecast a 20 per cent rise in the number of locals holidaying in the UK. Visit Scotland, in particular, has forecast a 25 per cent increase in local tourists.

Visit Tobago

Of course, you realise where I am going with this. Embracing domestic tourism is a big opportunity for those involved in tourism and related services in our beautiful twin-island republic. Many already have seen this golden opportunity. I was driving to work last week when, as usual, I was tuned in to the hilarious team on the Power Breakfast Show on Power 102 FM, and managed to hear part of an interview with Chris James, of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association.

Chris was talking about a domestic tourism road show they were doing in Trinidad to encourage more Trinis to take advantage of the paradise next door we call Tobago. Kudos to Chris and the rest of his association. If I remember correctly, he said they would visit Trinidad every month to promote Tobago. He added that Tobago House of Assembly either was or would be part of this initiative. Well done, THA!

Protect environment

On the blog section of the Discover TnT Web site ( there is an interesting article on the Caribbean Natural Resource Institute and the US-based MacArthur Foundation. One of the funding programmes run by the MacArthur Foundation is its Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, where organisations can receive up to $650,000 each to "advance innovative work."

Among the eight 2009 award recipients is the Trinidad-based Caribbean Natural Resource Institute, which promotes biodiversity conservation. It was founded over 30 years ago and is based on the Eastern Main Road in Laventille. Its accomplishments include protection of watersheds, promoting a role for civil society in managing threatened natural resources, developing training programmes and fostering community-based tourism, sustainable fisheries and forestry. Kudos to the Caribbean Natural Resource Institute, and please, do keep up the good work!

Enjoy Chaguaramas

Next weekend, May 29 to 31, there is the Red Earth Festival at Chaguaramas National Park. Aside from performances to promote environmental consciousness, there also will be workshops, an open-air cinema, hikes and tours available. There is more information on the Web site or call 788-5975 or 633-6992. Chaguaramas remains one of my favourite places in Trinidad. For the group I run with, the Mall Crawlers, Tucker Valley Road is still one of our regular, and more beautiful routes for our Sunday morning runs.

Kudos to Chaguaramas Development Authority for encouraging more of us to enjoy this National Park. We may be in the midst of an economic downturn, but that does not mean that life stops. Let us go out and enjoy the environment that God has blessed us with in a responsible way. When we do this, we could actually help our local economy and support the jobs of the tens of thousands of people who work in this vital sector.

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