BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 21, 2016–Four member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and Grenada—are participating in a project which is exploring the synergies between the fisheries and tourism sectors.
Belize is among the most sought-after Caribbean jurisdictions known for its “sea, sun and sand” ambiance but also for its array of sumptuous seafood!
Through tourism, which brings almost 30 million visitors to the Caribbean’s shores each year and which contributes nearly $50 billion to the regional economy, the potential exists to catalyze the socio-economic impact which fisheries has across the region. The two multi-billion-dollar sectors are intricately intertwined, and even as tourism is the backbone of the region’s economy, so too is fisheries.
Milton Haughton, the CRFM’s Executive Director, explains that if the linkages between fisheries and tourism are nurtured and strengthened, this would lead to more economic opportunities and furthermore reduce the region’s massive food import bill, keeping more Caribbean dollars at home for the benefit of coastal and rural communities.
The CRFM Secretariat has been engaged in a 5-month project funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to prepare four case studies that explore this vital link between fisheries and tourism-related markets in the Caribbean.
The studies recognize that there is potential for more fisheries earnings within the tourism sector. They assert that, “High-quality food, every day of the year, is essential to hotels, lodges and resorts. Often, the food purchasing bill of a tourism site is large in the context of the local economy, but surprisingly little is spent locally.”
“The contributions of Fisheries and Tourism to the economy of Belize have been significant. However, little attempt has been made to explore the synergies existing between the two sectors. Growth and development has been pursued separately and policies and institutions have not recognized nor advanced opportunities for cooperation,” the Belize study notes.
The case studies are expected to foster the diversification of the region’s economy and expanded value-added products from fisheries, as well as more sustainable trade and employment creation, as they shed light on key institutional and policy bottlenecks that must be addressed to upscale benefits to fisheries and tourism stakeholders.