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Wednesday, 16 March 2016 15:41

Seafood, sun and sand

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Fish on the grill at the Oistin’s fish fry
Photo: Aniya Legnaro/Barbados study

 CRFM seeks to strengthen the linkages between Fisheries and Tourism

The Caribbean’s massive import bill can be reduced if the synergies between fisheries and tourism are strengthened

BELIZE CITY, Belize, March 16, 2016 (CRFM)—A delightful supper of freshly caught, grilled fish or lobster often adds a special touch to the Caribbean experience of tourists who come to the region not just for “sea, sun and sand”—but also for its superb seafood!
 
Through tourism, which brings almost 30 million visitors to our shores each year and which contributes nearly $50 billion to the regional economy, the potential exists to catalyze the socio-economic impact which fisheries has across the region. The two multi-billion-dollar sectors are intricately intertwined, and even as tourism is the backbone of the region’s economy, so too is fisheries.
 
On Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18, at Blue Horizon Hotel in Bridgetown, Barbados, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) will host a meeting of an expert working group to review and the validate a draft report which explores ways of improving the linkages between fisheries and tourism.
 
The CRFM Secretariat has been engaged in a 5-month project funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to prepare four case studies that explore this vital link between fisheries and tourism-related markets in the Caribbean. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and Grenada are the CRFM Member States which have been participating in the project, but its findings are useful for the entire region.
 
The studies recognize that there is potential for more fisheries earnings within the tourism sector. They assert that, “High-quality food, every day of the year, is essential to hotels, lodges and resorts. Often, the food purchasing bill of a tourism site is large in the context of the local economy, but surprisingly little is spent locally.”
 
Milton Haughton, the CRFM’s Executive Director, explains that if the linkages between fisheries and tourism are nurtured and strengthened, this would lead to more economic opportunities and furthermore reduce the region’s massive food import bill, keeping more Caribbean dollars at home for the benefit of coastal and rural communities.
 
The Antigua study looked at the connection between lobster production and tourism, as well as the eco-tourism experience offered by Stingray City (Antigua) Limited, which allows primarily cruise tourists to interact with southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) in their natural environment.
 
The Barbados study notes that, “Over the last 10 years, the weekend Fish Frys, such as those in Oistins on the south coast and Half Moon Fort (Moon Town) on the West Coast, have emerged as major features in the country’s tourism product and attract a large number of visitors who have the opportunity to interact with the many locals that patronize them.”
 
“The contributions of Fisheries and Tourism to the economy of Belize have been significant. However, little attempt has been made to explore the synergies existing between the two sectors. Growth and development has been pursued separately and policies and institutions have not recognized nor advanced opportunities for cooperation,” the Belize study notes.
 
The Grenada study says that, “Marine fisheries resources now provide significant opportunity for tourism services-providers to earn livelihoods. Dive sites, sightseeing and surface tours are now important factors in the tourism products and services.”
 
The case studies are expected to foster the diversification of the region’s economy, expanded value-added products from fisheries, as well as more sustainable trade and employment creation, as they shed light on key institutional and policy bottlenecks that must be addressed to upscale benefits to fisheries and tourism stakeholders.

 

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