On behalf of the dedicated team at the Department of Tourism, may I wish you all a happy and productive 2017, the year the World Tourism Organization has dedicated to the advancement of sustainable tourism. In the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), we gladly endorse this global initiative as we know full well the importance of developing tourism sustainably: we all know tourism drives our economy and contributes enormously to our infrastructure and basic services.
But this year, let us ensure the benefits of the tourism industry contribute directly to improving the quality of life of our people, our fragile environment and the vibrant revival of our Territory's cultural assets.
We can do our part in setting guidelines for sustainable tourism development but we, the people of the USVI, are the ones who must make it work.
"Sustainability" requires responsibility on the part of our citizens. We have to take ownership of these complex issues and ensure our tourism sector benefits our families, our communities and our Territory.
In declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the World Tourism Organization suggested five areas of concentration.
First it looks for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Second, sustainable tourism should enable social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction.
Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change is the third area, while the fourth point seeks the enhancement of cultural values, diversity and heritage. The fifth aims at mutual understanding, peace and security.
These are values we already hold dear, but we ask you to join us in recommitting to these five principles to make 2017 an extraordinary year for the U.S. Virgin Islands, especially as we commemorate our Centennial.
Happy New Year to all!
|Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism, United States Virgin Islands|