The Travel Foundation is a UK-based foundation that was established specifically to assist developing countries minimise the negative environmental and social impacts of tourism. Tobago and Cancun in Mexico have been selected as the two destinations where the Travel Foundation will initially support projects. These two holiday destinations were selected because they are seen as being at opposite ends of the tourism spectrum; Tobago is a “relatively” unspoilt Caribbean island where the impacts of tourism are expected to increase substantially, whereas Cancun is a mass-tourism destination which needs to overcome major environmental and social challenges if tourism is to be sustained.
The Foundation’s director, Sue Hurdle, visited Tobago in August this year on an initial scoping visit. During her stay she met with many local stakeholders and discussed a number of potential projects which are now being considered for funding by the Foundation.
The Buccoo Reef Trust, together with other NGOs and THA departments, was involved in putting together six short term projects. These include:
- Developing environmental guidelines for visitors which will be disseminated in leaflets and in a short video to be shown at the airport in the international arrivals immigration hall.
- Lobster and conch conservation and awareness campaign.
- Rainforest signs and information brochures.
- Reef demarcation buoys (see figure).
- Turtle conservation and awareness campaign.
- Beach clean-up programme.
The installation of Reef Demarcation Buoys (RDBs) is one of the projects which the BRT is particularly interested in getting started. These buoys will demarcate the areas of living coral surrounding sandy anchorages and serve to prevent unintentional anchor damage. The proposed project will install a total of approximately 50 RDBs at Store Bay, Mt. Irvine, Castara, Englishman’s Bay, Man of War Bay and Bateaux Bay. The improper use of anchors at these sites by visiting yachts as well as some local boat owners is a major cause of coral reef degradation in Tobago. The idea of using RDBs is not new, and two of them were deployed by local boat owners at Mt Irvine a few years ago and successfully prevented visiting yachts from anchoring on the reef. Andrew Lovell of the Tobago Diving Association has offered to assist in the project. If anybody is interested in assisting with this project or in getting further information about the Travel Foundation please contact Owen Day at the Buccoo Reef Trust.