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UK Department for International Development Seeking Input on St. Helena's Sustainable Island Tourism Development
St. Helena's opportunity to showcase truly sustainable island tourism
The island of St. Helena, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom (UK), is of volcanic origin and covers just 47 square miles in the South Atlantic Ocean. St Helena is over 4,000 miles from the UK, 700 miles southeast of Ascension Island, and 1,700 miles from South Africa. The island's total population is approximately 4,000 persons. The island’s only link to the outside world is by ship.
Like other small islands St Helena’s economy has historically been constrained by its isolation, size and limited resource base. Most commodities are imported and since the demise of the flax industry in the 1960s, St. Helena has relied heavily on UK to budgetary aid support to help fund essential public services, infrastructure and subsidised access to the island. Outside of the public sector economic activity is mainly in agriculture, fishing, construction, retail sectors with a small volume of tourism, at present about 1000 tourism arrivals per year with on island visitor spend estimated to be £600,000 per year. See http://www.sthelenatourism.com/
This situation is soon to change. With construction of an airport now underway, St. Helena is likely to undergo substantive economic transformation. 30 000 visitors per year (500-900 visitors per week) are needed to make St. Helena financially self-sustaining, which the island aims to achieve within the coming 10 years.
The richness of the natural and built heritage, coupled with the cachet of its remoteness and unique culture present an extremely attractive tourism proposition and potential for a sustainable tourism industry. The establishment of a wide-ranging network of National Conservation Areas that will protect natural and historic heritage is currently underway. See http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/pages/environment.html
With the opening up of the island to air access this tourism opportunity should be fully exploited and drive the private sector led sustainable economic growth of the island.
- How can the significant up scaling of the tourism sector on St. Helena be done in a sustainable way?
- Experiences from other countries and in particular island nations?
- Options for collaboration and partnerships?
- Opportunities for training locals to work in tourism?
I look forward to comments, suggestions and expressions of support.
*If you would like to share your input on the above questions, please contact:
Christine Roehrer, Environment, Climate & Natural Resources Adviser,
Overseas Territories Department, UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Phone: +44 (0) 135 584 3639