Giving Compass' Take:

• It is possible for tourism companies to have sustainable development initiatives. Fundación Grupo Puntacana has a business model that exemplifies this goal but requires help from all stakeholders involved. 

• How can collaborative philanthropic efforts and development aid help tourism companies reach sustainability goals? 

• Read about the efforts to make more sustainable volunteer tourism. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) insists that tourism and sustainable development do not have to be mutually exclusive. For the sake of the planet, that had better be true – especially since estimates suggest 1.8 billion people could be taking international trips by 2030, a 50 percent increase from last year.

Here in Jamaica, where the UNWTO has wrapped up its Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, a quick scan of the all-inclusive resorts that line the highway along the country’s north shore do not appear to be a hotbed of responsible and inclusive growth. The massive gates that greet shuttles arriving at these resorts hardly scream “inclusive.” Once visitors arrive inside, the amounts of food and trash these resorts generate raise questions about whether tourism can truly become the sustainable industry its leaders say it could be.

In fact, George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies (IITS) will soon release a report showing where the Caribbean region needs a heavy lift over the next few years. The IITS’s assessment will show that some of the largest risks countries here face include climate change adaptation, monitoring tourism’s collective footprint – not to mention the struggle of gaining the buy-in of local residents who are watching tourism impinge on their way of life.

Fundación Grupo Puntacana, the philanthropic arm of the eponymous company that was the driver of one of the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean, claims it serves as a model of how the public and private sectors can allow tourism to thrive while mitigating any environmental and social impacts in local communities. The catch is that all stakeholders, including government agencies, private companies and nonprofits, must be involved in order to ensure this booming industry can become a force for good.

Read the full article about tourism by Leon Kaye at TriplePundit