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Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Awards has named the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda 2021’s Emerging Sustainable Destination of the Year.

Unveiling a radical reimagining of its much-awaited Best in Travel picks for 2021, Lonely Planet is looking ahead to the important changes taking place globally, from sustainability to diversity, and shining a light on the future of travel, a release from the Ministry of Tourism said.

This year, Antigua and Barbuda has been heralded out as one of the destinations who are transforming the travel industry.

From banning single-use plastics to establishing a “Green Corridor” of environmentally friendly businesses, Antigua and Barbuda have made sustainability a priority.

Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez said that the islands are incredibly proud to have been recognised by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Awards.

“As a nation, we are constantly striving to ensure sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do. Although we are a small country, we are pioneering initiatives to ensure that the beauty of our islands is preserved and nurtured for generations to come. The Sustainable Tourism department has made this a priority in Antigua and Barbuda, and within a short five-year period, we are very proud of the progress that has been made and the example we have set,” he said.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James, said, “The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is excited to celebrate this win with the Ministry of Tourism.  This is an amazing accolade to receive as we continue to promote Antigua and Barbuda as a safe and responsible tourism destination.”

The twin-island nation has introduced several sustainable initiatives over the years.

These include the Green Tourist Initiative, also known as the “Green Corridor”, which aims to assist businesses in reducing the negative aspects of tourism on the environment by improving the efficiency of their operations. Under the “Green Corridor” initiative, Antigua also introduced the “Green Fins Programme”, a UNEP certification programme that provides support and guidance to snorkellers and divers – the only country in the Western hemisphere to have done so.

Also, the Mapping of Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites to create awareness of tourism assets and attractions sites, to assist with the management of cultural and natural heritage. So far, 64 sites have been mapped out with their true histories being shared with tour guides, locals, and visitors alike. Under the Management of Historical Sites Antigua continues to work with the Sustainable Tourism Unit to restore and develop Betty’s Hope as a sustainably managed historical site.

Meanwhile, the country seeks to maintain and enhance select communities under its Community Empowerment Project, to create a new tourism product that will create alternative livelihoods for members of those communities. Antigua has also introduced a Waste to Craft Management Project, to create further awareness among artisans and craftsmen on how waste can be reused in the accommodation sector.

Under its Destination Sustainable Tourism Monitoring Programme, the destination aims to works with its residents to ensure satisfaction with the development of Tourism products. This is to ensure that residents feel they are a part of the process and are benefitting from Tourism. Antigua has also introduced the Destination Stewardship Committee, to engage leaders from government, the private sector and NGO community through a collaborative process to embed wise policies and practices into all levels of tourism planning, development, and management.

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