For many years now, the Caribbean has attracted an estimated 25 million international visitors annually. In 2020 and 2021, this figure fell significantly due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, with traveller numbers rising once again, popular holiday islands such as Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are once again welcoming visitors in their millions.
Most people arrive on large cruise ships with popular harbours such as Montego Bay, Nassau and Cancun bearing the brunt of Caribbean tourism. Hundreds – sometimes thousands – of passengers spill into the local region, eager to sightsee, shop, eat and drink. In many cases, cruise ship partners – typically large resorts and internationally owned stores – benefit from cruiser expenditure, with very little going to local businesses. All the while, the huge number of people puts tremendous pressure on local infrastructure, pushing locals who are unable to afford rising costs out of the area.
Change, however, is finally happening – and a more sustainable travel industry is evolving from the beating heart of the Caribbean – the region’s local people. With family-owned, community-run businesses growing in size and making their voice heard, an increasing number of independent travellers are becoming aware of local initiatives that offer more genuine, cultural encounters away from the cruise ship and all-inclusive resort hubs. As more and more visitors sign up for these experiences, local businesses are making enough to invest profits back into nature and conservation. It’s a win-win situation.
By supporting the projects run by local people, who fight for a healthier community and better environmental practices, allows the Caribbean to thrive in the right way. Here are five fantastic sustainable initiatives that ooze conscience and ethic.