Castara, the charming seaside village in Tobago cradled between the Main Ridge Forest Reserve of the Caribbean Sea, has embarked on a journey of international significance.
As a proud participant in the World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO) 'Best Tourism Villages' Upgrade Programme, a delegation of the village’s tourism ambassadors recently returned from a transformative networking weekend in Italy from July 14 to 16, 2023 hosted by the Municipality of San Genisio and the UNWTO.
In December 2022, Castara was handpicked from among approximately 130 applications representing 57 countries to be part of this esteemed initiative by UNWTO, underscoring the community’s status as a shining example of a rural tourism destination that boasts accredited cultural and natural assets, preserves community-based values, and stands as a beacon of innovation and sustainability.
Castara's delegation at the event - Mrs. Natasha Legall-Roberts, Vice President of the Castara Tourism Development Association (CTDA) and Mr. Junior Quashie, President of the Castara Fisherfolk Association/Ex-Officio Director of the CTDA - joined their counterparts from other 'Best Tourism Villages' in Italy, proudly representing their destination and the “Tobago beyond” brand.
Mr. Junior Quashie, who is also a member of the Castara Village Council, shared his perspective on the experience, and the warm welcome Tobago’s delegation received from hosts Mayor Giuliano Ciabocco and Best Tourism Village National Coordinator Elisa Straffi. He praised the many workshops and networking sessions that provided valuable insight into creating a blueprint for Castara as an eco-friendly village, including various aspects of sustainable infrastructure and funding strategies.
“The people of San Ginesio were very warm and friendly and reminded me of the people of my home in Castara,” Mr. Quashie said. “The village atmosphere was very similar - you felt welcomed almost as if you were at home.
“We spoke about the similarities of our communities and when pictures were shown, they all became very excited. Even though they had no idea where Tobago was located – many hearing the name for the first time - they said that they would love to visit,”.
“On this trip, I realised that Castara and by extension, Tobago, possesses a great unique potential with endless opportunities and possibilities which, if we work together as a community, we can ensure that Castara continues to be a Best Tourism Village.”
Alicia Edwards, Executive Chair of the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) underscored the significance of Castara’s latest milestone for the village and the wider destination, stating: “For Castara and Tobago, this Italian journey represents a significant opportunity for global recognition and collaboration. It highlights our destination’s commitment to sustainable tourism and the potential for Tobago's rural communities to shine on the world stage.
“As we look ahead, TTAL remains steadfast in its support for Castara and other rural communities, guiding them toward sustainable tourism excellence. We eagerly anticipate witnessing Castara's continued growth, development, and contributions to Tobago's thriving tourism landscape.”