Oct. 13, 2003 – For years, travel industry analysts have been preaching the appeal of environmental and heritage tourism to distinguish one destination — say one sun-drenched tropical island — from the next. If a new community organization has its way, St. Croix will give more than lip service to the concept.
At a recent a press conference held in the historic setting of Fort Frederik, the founders of Crucian Heritage And Nature Tourism Inc. said they want to define St. Croixs tourism product in just those terms.
A release from CHANT noted that the Caribbean Tourism Organization has said that sustainable tourism is the way to go because it takes into consideration the people, the environment and the culture of a place.
Experts agree that heritage tourism can succeed only if it is rooted in the widespread participation by the local community, the release stated. "This is the heart of CHANT's mission — development from the inside out," it said.
The release described the organization as nonpolitical, grassroots group "committed to the advancement of Crucian heritage and nature tourism as a vehicle for sustained economic, social, cultural, and spiritual development of the St. Croix community."
According to the founders, "CHANT will utilize our tradition bearers, our nature conservationists and our youth not only to preserve the rich culture and nature of the island, but also to market it to the world as well; thereby the benefit is two-fold. We on St. Croix will be the immediate beneficiaries, and those visiting the island will get a true taste of what it is to be Crucian."
The organization's board of directors encompasses both heritage and environmental preservation advocates: culture bearers Wayne James, Willard John, Richard Schrader and Janice Tutein; Latin scratch band musician Salvador Fragosa; St. Croix Environmental Association executive director Bill Turner; and environmentalists Kelly Gloger, Onaje Jackson and Aminah Saleem. Oceana James has been named executive director.
Wayne James described the founding of the group as the culmination of a three-year grassroots initiative to promote heritage and nature tourism as St. Croix's primary visitor attraction. He said funding for the cause was received from an anonymous donor earlier this year.
Heritage and nature tourism has been recognized by the World Tourism Organization as the second-fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry, according to two CHANT board members who attended a CTO conference on heritage tourism in St. Kitts last month.
Among its commitments, CHANT plans to:
– Oversee the development and growth of heritage and nature tourism products on St. Croix.
– Provide tour packaging services.
– Support local entrepreneurs entering the St. Croix heritage and nature tourism market.
– Provide links and support to the Tourism Department and other components of the St. Croix tourism industry.
The CHANT office is located in Suite 4 on the second floor of the Paint Locker Building in La Grande Princesse. For more information, call Oceana James at 277-1575.
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