Stakeholders in the tourism sector have been urged to manage the product in a sustainable manner, with special focus on the environment, by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill.
The Minister, who was addressing a forum to launch an environmental protection initiative being spearheaded by the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA), to focus on climate change issues in the Negril area, at Couples Swept Away, on November 29, said the entire tourism product must be seen in the protection of the environment along with management of the other offerings.
“If we do not manage this product properly, we can be in danger of losing it, as the environment is a very important part of everything we do. Climate change is here, it is a present danger. The beach as we knew it has changed. There are areas where it has eroded terribly and, we have to protect that beach,” the Minister told his audience.
He said the issue should not be seen as just something affecting overseas territories, as climate change, through the increase of storms, floods and fires, have caused serious damage to the area, mainly the morass. “Here in Negril, we have real issues, but I am proud of the participation of the community. They take pride in issues affecting the community,” the Minister said.
“We all have to look at it from a national point of view, how we are going to deal with the effects of climate change. We have to look at our marine protection, and we have to look at our coastal management,” the Minister added.
He said the NEPA plan must ensure that the entire marine environment and the wider area is protected, so that the resort community can continue to provide sustenance to the area and the Jamaican economy.
“We now know enough that everything is linked. The beach is linked to the sea, it is linked to the morass, and it is linked to the rivers. We must address it as one,” Dr. McNeill emphasised.