Call to move tourism investments from the coast

Sea, sun and sand have been key attractions for Caribbean tourism, but a regional development banker is hoping for the day when new tourism infrastructure moves away from the coastline.

Therese Turner-Jones, acting vice president, operations, at the Caribbean Development Bank says: “I think all of the new [tourism] plants that are coming up in the region, I’d like to see a policy that says no more building on the coastline, but each country has to come to that realisation themselves.”

She made the suggestion while participating in a webinar ahead of the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum in September.

The session was moderated by Daniel Best, senior infrastructure and development adviser, in the Prime Minister’s Office here, who suggested that some regional governments may take some convincing regarding the recommendation to move new tourism infrastructure away from the coast.

“Therese spoke to the coastlines and she wants to see no building on the coastlines, but some government is going to say that is where we are going to get our revenue, but the fact is with sea level rise that is a challenge,” Best said.

Turner-Jones said any proposed infrastructure project or any that already existed “has to be climate proofed today [to ensure] that it stands the test of time and meets the sustainability objective”.

Turner-Jones said a significant challenge was that Caribbean governments’ investment in infrastructure was challenged by the fiscal constraints they faced, especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the CDB’s perspective . . . we are trying to move the needle on getting public sector investments to go beyond the three to four or five per cent of GDP, which is where it is stuck for most of the countries in this region. It is quite a challenge because of fiscal constraints,” she stated.

“So here is where the partnerships come in. We have had some really good partners in terms of getting infrastructure projects done throughout this region.”

“We have to put our public sector to one side and look for private sector solutions to a lot of these infrastructure needs that we have, because we know that the strength of the balance sheets of most of the governments in the region can’t support it,” she added.

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