St. Kitts’ Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), has joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) as a destination member.
The Sustainable Destination Council (SDC) serves as an advisory council for the Ministry of Tourism, with the aim to increase opportunities for locals and tourists to act as destination stewards, and has the influence over the island of St. Kitts including rural areas, the popular tourist area of the Southern Peninsula and the highly populated capital city of Basseterre.
“We are very pleased to welcome St. Kitts’ Sustainable Destination Council to GSTC,” says Randy Durband. “Being a GSTC member involves taking a pledge to adhere to the GSTC Criteria — which is not a form of certification, but an entry point to follow universal sustainability principles in the management and development of their tourism. We are glad that St Kitts and Nevis, the only Caribbean country to be a pioneering early adopter of the GSTC Destination Criteria, continues to apply the GSTC Criteria and engage with GSTC.”
“The St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council was founded based on the principles of the GSTC Criteria for Destinations following St. Kitts and Nevis’s GSTC destination sustainability assessment, so we are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with GSTC for ongoing destination stewardship,” says Diannille Taylor‑Williams, St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism.
GSTC encourages destinations pursuing sustainability practices in development and management of tourism, to join as GSTC members and apply the GSTC Destination Criteria, which eventually can lead to being certified by a GSTC-Accredited Certification Body.
As a result of their participation in the GSTC Early Adopters Program in 2012, St. Kitts realized early on the importance of stakeholder collaboration to achieve sustainability progress. This led to the Ministry of Tourism partnering with Sustainable Travel International to design a cross-sector collaboration concept. Launched in 2013, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), formerly known as the Inter-Agency Sustainable Destination Management Council (IASDMC), is an advisory body made up of representatives from the public and private sectors that promotes sustainable destination management.
Currently, St. Kitts’ Sustainable Destination Council instills sustainable tourism understanding across public and private sectors, builds agencies’ capacity to incorporate sustainability into daily operations, creates opportunities for increased collaboration.
The council is made up of 8 strategy members that steer projects and working groups of an additional 25 members. Council members are key destination decision-makers, liaising with stakeholders in the wider community.
Monitoring includes a biannual tourism satisfaction resident survey to better understand residents’ perceptions of the tourism industry, interest in participation and the role of tourism in protecting natural and cultural heritage. SDC creates invaluable opportunities for collaboration and engages stakeholders on multiple levels. It provides a platform for locals, businesses and visitors to have a voice in, and contribute to, destination stewardship.
The Council puts emphasis on environmental project implementation such as marine and coastal conservation and reforestation. Natural resource use and waste management and conservation awareness campaigns have been priority projects for the Council. Rails-to-trails project (re-purposing of the old sugar railway into a multi-recreational trail for tourists and residents) will encompass the environmental, social and historical heart of St. Kitts, fostering community tourism while highlighting and protecting the cultural heritage of ‘Sugar City.’