The blue destination strategy in a small island tourism oriented society
Tourism could be discussed as being a damaging phenomenon if not managed correctly as well as being destructive towards its own industry by its contribution towards climate change (UNWTO 2008; Glegg et al 2021; Grilli 2021). However, tourism is often considered to be highly important for the destination's economic and social development (Glegg et al 2021). Besides this, natural resources often tend to play an important role in the attractiveness of a destination (Fennell 2015; Uyarra et al 2009). A strategic tourism strategy is therefore needed in order to protect the natural resources of the destination, and in order to become economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The blue destination strategy could be defined as the sustainable use of ocean resources for growth, well-being, and jobs while protecting the oceans’ ecosystems’ health (Tourism Corporation Bonaire 2017). Bonaire is a small island in the Caribbean that, since 2017, has been implementing a blue destination approach as their destination development strategy. By examining the case of Bonaire, the study aims to develop a better understanding of the contribution of a development strategy towards a sustainable tourism industry within a tourism-oriented society, and aims to highlight the stakeholder’s perspective. This is trying to be obtained by answering the three research questions of what the tourism industry looks like on Bonaire, what is trying to be achieved with the blue destination company certification and what the blue destination strategy is as well as what effect it has had on Bonaire so far. In order to provide an answer, the study uses a triangularization method. Six interviews with stakeholders, document analysis, and statistical analysis were carried out. Results highlighted that tourism on Bonaire is an important driver for economic and social growth. The tourism industry on Bonaire is seen as highly dependent on the natural resources of the island, mainly its ocean. The blue company certification has been highlighted as a tool to ensure that sustainable criteria are met as well as an important tool for marketing and inspiring others to become more sustainable. Blue destination has then been highlighted as a way to create and ensure a tourism industry that generates economic welfare and stimulates sustainability for the whole island while highlighting the connection between human activity and the marine ecosystem that takes place in the ocean economy. Measurable effects have so far been minimal or not noticeable but stakeholders highlighted that it has helped by synergizing the island and providing better cooperation between stakeholders, leading to them having the same vision.