Miss Solomon Islands, Gladys Habu, said during the World Environment Day, “Protecting our environment is important and as Islanders, we know very well why.”
“As a nation, our environment plays a significant role development.
“It is the source of good health, as well as wealth.”
Ms Habu’s words were appropriate as World Environment Day is recognised as possibly the biggest day for encouraging people worldwide to help save and protect the environment from the many environmental challenges the world is facing today.
To put it simply, the world Environment Day is also a “People’s Day” which is a day to do something to take care of one’s environment. It is an important occasion for promoting the dimensions of environmental Sustainable Development Goals.
COVID-19 has highlighted some of the problems of mass tourism and especially stories of large numbers of coronavirus cases involving passengers having taken cruise liner trips and the vessels blocked at certain ports with sick passengers on board.
The trend to green tourism post Covid-19 will see tourists wanting to visit places where there is evidence of environmental protection and where tourism takes into account the needs of the environment by enhancing the natural environment.
A couple of years ago, to celebrate World Environment Day, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) launched a biodiversity project in Georgia, aimed at protecting mountain and freshwater ecosystems through tourism. The project involved the development of tourism products in mountain and freshwater ecosystems in four protected areas in Georgia, to raise awareness of these areas, as well as generate income for their conservation.
Some similar biodiversity projects would be beneficial for the Solomon Islands in the longer term.
Post Covid-19, I see the importance of the Solomon Islands advancing sustainable tourism. What do I mean by that?
Put it this way - tourism which takes into account the needs of the environment, local residents, businesses, and visitors; now and in the future. It is relevant to any tourism business, large or small, rural or urban, whether focused on ecotourism, business tourism or any other tourism niche market. Green tourism businesses are those actively engaged in reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of their tourism operations.
How would sustainable tourism be beneficial? Here are some possible answers.
•Beneficial the environment by conserving resources
•Reducing costs through efficiencies and staff awareness
•Fulfilling customers expectations of businesses to look after their environment
•Attracting new customers
•Improving the country’s public image
•Improving customer experience
•Improving the quality of the service provided
•Beneficial to the local community
•Supporting the local economy
•Reducing pollution, and
•Enhancing the natural environment.