Basseterre, St Kitts, 13 December, 2017 – The keynote speaker at the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum (CSSTF) being held in St. Kitts and Nevis, encouraged participants to think about people and how their decisions as potential and actual travellers were influenced by media reports. Gregory McKenzie, television presenter and reporter with the BBC, was the opening speaker for the CSSTF on Wednesday, December 12, which is being held at the Ocean Terrace Inn.
He explained that viewers may not want to know about climate change because they might not find it interesting or easy to understand.
“Our role as broadcasters is to…help people understand that it’s real, it’s happening,” he said. “…It’s about how we can tap into that and show people around the world on our shows that…it’s an issue. People’s lives are a at risk and many have died.”
However, he noted that while media practitioners should aim to educate their audiences about climate change, they also needed to accurately describe climate change-related events and the areas in which they occurred. For example, the coverage on the destruction in the region caused by the passage of two major hurricanes recently might have led some persons to believe that the entire region suffered severe damage.
“The global picture is [that] the Caribbean [is] one, and people forget there’s different islands,” the broadcast journalist said. “So, a part of my role is to show people the Caribbean is open for business.”
Having spent more than 15 years working for the BBC, Gregory McKenzie said he considered his role with the entity and thought about how he could encourage editors there to think about climate change in a different way. For the past four years, McKenzie has been directing, producing and reporting content for the BBC’s flagship Travel Show which is broadcast to more than 300 million viewers a week. In doing so he has travelled to more than 30 destinations across the world.
Where the tourism industry was concerned, McKenzie explained that as more territories developed their tourism industry, it would produce significant impacts on their natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. Because of this, he said that sustainable and responsible planning and management was imperative for the industry to survive.
“Now we already know that global tourism is reaching unprecedented levels. The demand is huge, and, for the first time in our history, the number of tourists crossing international borders in a single year has reached over the one billion mark, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation;” he said.
“The role of the consumer in all of this really shouldn’t be overlooked.”
Consumers, he added, needed to be engaged and stakeholders needed to find ways to prompt them to think in a sustainable way.
“When you’re on holiday, probably the last thing a tourist is thinking about [is] ‘where do I put the plastic?’ or ‘what do I do with that?’, but we can change that in terms of the mindset of tourists and show them different initiatives,” he explained.
“A balance has to be found between limits and usage so that [we] continuously change monitoring and planning [to] ensure that tourism can be managed, and this requires long term thinking and realizing that change is often gradual and often irreversible for economic, social and environmental aspects. Sustaining development must include the interests of all stakeholders, including indigenous people, local communities, visitors, industries and of course more importantly, government.”
The 12-13 December forum, jointly organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Tourism, is the region’s bespoke event in observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The conference theme is “Good for Use, Better for All”.