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May 29, 2018

Praise for Belize’s Efforts to Heal Barrier Reef

The World Heritage Committee has signaled good news in respect to potentially removing the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in danger at its next meeting. First listed in 2009, it has taken several years to implement programs designed to help the reef recover from various assaults on it over the years. Chris Taylor and Carrie Miller will be going to see one of the sites grouped in the system for themselves, but they expect that with the recovery of the reef and associated wildlife will come more tourists to see its wonders. The trick now, they told us today, is to ensure that the reef is not put under too much pressure that will cause it to slip back toward the status that made it endangered in the first place.

 

Carrie Miller

Carrie Miller, Contributing Editor/Writer, National Geographic Traveler

“Conservation is such a huge part of tourism; they go hand in hand. And it’s a double-edged sword, because tourists put a lot of pressure on destinations, but they also bring in a lot of revenue and they’re the reason that destinations are popular. But National Geographic recently launched a major campaign – I think that it was the eighteenth of May – called “Planet or Plastic” to try and draw awareness to the fact of the pressure that we’re putting on locations. Nearly one million plastic bottles are sold around the world every minute and they’ve got no place to go. So what happens on land, happens in the water and it’s up to destinations to try and protect what they’ve got and educate children and get local buy-in to this protection, which in turn bring tourists in.”

 

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor, Professional Diver

“A healthy reef will attract more wildlife and more wildlife is what divers want to experience. So the healthier the marine environment can be, the more divers are going to want to be there. Just to name a few destinations, but if you think about what’s on most divers’ bucket lists, most people will say the Galapagos Islands, or the Cocos Islands in Costa Rica, or other places where there’s protection, where there is a lot of wildlife. So it’s just natural that that protection will bring that kind of tourism. And then, the important thing is to then manage that tourism in a way that it then doesn’t put too much pressure back on that ecosystem and destroys it again. So it’s all about finding that balance, and finding a good way of managing that for future generations and to have a long-term, sustainable tourism industry with it.”

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