Climate Change Catastrophe Threatens Tourism

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CaribWorldNews, RODNEY BAY VILLAGE, St. Lucia, Thurs. Dec. 17, 2009: Participants at the recently held Caribbean Media Exchange in St. Lucia were urged to launch campaigns similar to those waged against HIV/AIDS to warn people of the dangers of climate change and how it could affect tourism and sustainable development in the region.

The warning came from a board member of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.

Noting tourism accounts for about 25 to 35 percent of the total GDP of the Caribbean and provides about one-fifth of all jobs, Isaac Anthony, CCRIF board member and Permanent Secretary of St. Lucia`s Ministry of Finance, lauded the CMEx for highlighting how climate change posed a `serious threat to the environment as well as to economies and societies – the impacts of which are likely to adversely affect the tourism sector.`

Anthony, who also serves as the Registrar of Insurance with responsibility for supervising and regulating St. Lucia`s insurance industry, called on CMEx and regional media to help countries better understand `hazard risk, climate change and climate change adaptation strategies.`
`You have already played a fundamental and effective role globally in using your powerful tool – communication – in the war against HIV/AIDS: You can do the same for climate change,` he said.

Urging the media to focus more on climate change and its impacts on socio-economic development, Anthony, who also is chairman of the Caribbean Public Finance Association, identified the changing climate as a `global driver of increasing disaster risk and threatens to undermine the critical development gains made by the most vulnerable countries, including small island developing states such as those in the Caribbean.`

For small island countries, he stressed, a single-event catastrophe can have a `devastating effect both on physical infrastructure and the economic fabric of the country.`
`The small economies of the region combined with physical vulnerabilities often results in an amplification effect on the impact of natural hazards,` he said.

Noting the difference between a rich country and a smaller nation, Anthony recalled Hurricane Ivan in 2004, `caused almost 200 percent of annual GDP impact in each of two Caribbean islands, Grenada and the Cayman Islands, as well as significant damage in Jamaica.`
By contrast, Hurricane Katrina`s impact in the United States was less than 1 percent of annual US GDP and only about 30 percent of Louisiana`s annual GDP.

In the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Caribbean Community Heads of Government set up the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility with three priorities.
The first was to cover the post-disaster liquidity gap faced by governments between immediate, emergency aid and long-term redevelopment assistance while the second was to enable governments to receive money quickly. The third is  to minimize the burden of governments to provide exposure information prior to coverage being initiated and loss of information after a disaster.

Through the pooling of capital into a collective reserve and spreading of risks geographically, the Facility provides cost-efficient coverage options for its participants against extreme natural events, the socio-economic impacts of which are beyond the management capacity of any individual country.

The Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) has hosted 18 conferences and symposia throughout the Caribbean and North America to underscore the value of the region`s largest industry, tourism, in bettering the health, education, culture, environment and wealth of communities in a climate friendly fashion.

The CMEx meeting – held December 3 to 7, 2009 in St. Lucia – was supported by Almond Resorts, American Airlines, American Eagle, Anse Chastanet Resort, Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Barbara Pyle Foundation, Bay Gardens Resorts, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Cap Maison Luxury Villa Resort and Spa, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, Caribbean Tourism Organization, CaribWorldNews, Carnival Sailing, Coco Palm, Community Benefit Development, Cotton Bay Village, Counterpart International, East Caribbean Financial Holding Company Limited, Jade Mountain, LUCELEC, Marketplace Excellence, Max Micoud Designs, Palm Haven Hotel, Rendezvous, Ruder Finn, Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Sandals Resorts, Sensible Development Corporation, Soufrière Regional Development Foundation, SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. Foundation, Stephen Paul`s Photographic Images, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, Ti Bananne Caribbean Bistro and Bar, Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, and Tropical Shipping.

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