We’ve got some good news for the environment as the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the leading organization of the hoteliers and tourism in the Caribbean, and the Diving and Equipment Marketing Association (DEMA), the worldwide trade association for the recreational diving and snorkeling industries, have decided to put environmental awareness in the forefront of their missions.
The two organizations agreed to collaborate on creating artificial reefs in the region and to partner with organizations working on reef restoration and coral regeneration. They’ve also decided to increase their focus on employment of local populations in both the hotel and dive industry. DEMA is also working with CHTA to promote diving as a year-round activity. The two trade organizations have renewed an effort to find ways to increase communication about hurricanes and other natural disasters’ effects on the industries in the region.
A healthy coral system is very important — and not just to the diving and tourism industries. The reef systems also mean healthy fisheries. Approximately half of all federally managed fisheries depend on coral reefs and related habitats for a portion of their life cycles. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a government agency associated with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), estimates the commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs is over $100 million. The economic impact of thriving reefs on local economies is estimated in the billions of dollars due to diving tours, recreational fishing trips, hotels, restaurants and other businesses based near reef ecosystems.