From the tree tops of Mt. Liamuiga to the coral reefs in White House Bay, St. Kitts is a place where we celebrate our past, believe in the authenticity of our culture, protect our land and sea, and invest in our future. This is the Heart of St. Kitts, we look forward to sharing it with you.
History of Sustainable Destination Management in St. Kitts
In 2005, the St. Kitts & Nevis government shut down the last of the historic sugar plantations, which had been running for hundreds of years, and shifted its focus to tourism as the primary economic driver. Since 2005, tourism has boomed. However, with a rapid rise in visitation, St. Kitts quickly realized the need to plan for sustainable growth and management of our tourism sector in order to avoid negative impacts to our environment and cultural heritage–common issues caused by poor destination management.
In 2012, the UN-founded Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) invited St. Kitts to be one of the first destinations in the world to become an Early Adopter of the GSTC’s Criteria for Destinations—the leading global standard for sustainable development and management of tourism. As an Early Adopter, St. Kitts underwent a GSTC Destination Assessment, which identified areas of good practice, risk areas, and recommendations for how St. Kitts could better comply with the GSTC Criteria. GSTC then engaged stakeholders in planning quick-win action projects to put St. Kitts on a path toward sustainable destination management following the GSTC Criteria.
As a result of GSTC’s recommendations, with the support of long-time NGO partner Sustainable Travel International, in 2013 St. Kitts established the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (“SDC”), a community-driven organization representing government agencies, private sector, and civil society groups, to take a leading role in shaping sustainable development and management of St. Kitts as a tourism destination. The SDC is governed by our belief statement: “The SDC works to facilitate partnerships and functional relationships among public and private sectors and all peoples in St. Kitts, to ensure that development in our destination preserves and benefits our environment, culture, heritage and community livelihoods.” This mission is summarized in our tagline, #GoodForUsBetterForAll—meaning that only if St. Kitts is a thriving and prosperous place for our residents to live, will it be a wonderful place for guests to visit. Also as a result of the GSTC Destination Assessment, St. Kitts created the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation—a vehicle for visitors and partners of St. Kitts to give back to support sustainability initiatives that advance environmental, cultural, and economic protection of our community.
With St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism and Heart of St. Kitts Foundation support, and through SDC’s efforts, St. Kitts has worked to harness travel and tourism to protect our way of life and to implement the Ministry’s “Pro-People, Pro-Planet” tourism strategy. We prioritize regular training for our community members across sectors, and tourism education from early in our students’ primary school experience, to make sure we are all working from a common playbook for destination stewardship. We involve our community widely in public awareness and engagement initiatives to care for our environment, protect and promote our culture and heritage, and ensure that tourism generates maximum benefits for our residents, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
The collective successes of these efforts have earned global recognition for St. Kitts as a leader in sustainable destination management, including receiving such accolades as the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Sustainable Tourism Award in Destination Stewardship in 2014, the CTO Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award in 2017, and the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Destination Stewardship Award in 2019. We invite all visitors, partners, and friends of St. Kitts to join us in keeping St. Kitts a vibrant and sustainable destination by getting involved in our ongoing initiatives. #GoodForUsBetterForAll
The Heart of St. Kitts Foundation
The Heart of St. Kitts Foundation was established in 2016 to build on the success that the Ministry of Tourism has made by expanding their efforts to more fully integrate the role that tourism enterprises and visitors play in creating and sharing the destination’s Sustainability Story.
The Heart of St. Kitts Foundation was developed as a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism and tourism enterprises on island to ensure that development on the island continues to preserve and benefit the environment, culture, heritage, and the livelihoods of St. Kitts residents.
Driven by of a coalition of local businesses committed to sustainability, the Foundation acts to build awareness around sustainability priorities in St. Kitts and provide funding for local projects that make the island a better and more sustainable place to live and experience.
Through support from local tourism businesses and visitors to the island, the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation aims to inspire better stewardship of the environment, culture and lasting legacy of St. Kitts.