ST THOMAS, USVI -- The Caribbean can seriously advance local, regional and global action on sustainable energy development -- especially if they worked together, says a senior regional tourism official.
"By investing more in renewable energy technologies and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we can protect the environment and create a more competitive tourism business environment with lower operating costs and greater efficiencies," reasons Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism of the US Virgin Islands.
Noting the tremendous strides made over the years with photovoltaic technology and solar water heating, for example, "more must be done with our collective human and financial capital," the commissioner said.
Speaking ahead of World Tourism Day 2012 -- to be celebrated globally on Thursday, September 27 -- the tourism official called for a "renewables revolution" and encouraged the international community to meet targets to reduce climate changing emissions.
Failure to act now could contribute to unstable climatic conditions which in turn would lead to severe damage to our regional economic system," said Nicholson-Doty, who sits on the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Calling for a united approach to sustainable energy development across the Caribbean, the commissioner added: "Each of us in the Caribbean has important lessons to share which will no doubt advance the pace of progress in the renewables revolution. We must stand united since we contribute the least to climate change, but are impacted the most by it."
World Tourism Day 2012 is being held under the theme "Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development."
This year's theme highlights tourism's role in a brighter energy future -- a future in which the world's entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the tourism sector is at the forefront of some of the world's most ambitious and innovative clean energy solutions: the aviation industry is implementing cutting-edge technologies to make aircraft lighter than ever before; commercial flights are beginning to use biofuels in their fuel mix; key card systems and energy saving light bulbs are increasingly being implemented in hotel rooms worldwide; and tour operators are asking for energy efficiency throughout their supply chains.
"One of the world's largest economic sectors, tourism, is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy," said secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon as he welcomed this week's global celebrations.