Turtles take Trinidad and Tobago to top tourism tier

A leatherback turtle heads out to sea. - Photo courtesy Nature Seekers
A leatherback turtle heads out to sea. - Photo courtesy Nature Seekers

THE eco-tourism activity of turtle-watching has taken TT to the ranks of the top 25 Best of the World destinations for 2023 as named by National Geographic, said a recent statement from Tourism Trinidad Ltd (TTL).

"TT was identified under the family category as ‘one of the most important leather back turtle nesting sites in the world’ and has emerged as a leader on the world stage in the battle to save the leather back turtle population."

TTL lauded those who had helped this conservation effort.

The statement cited Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell as saying the accolade was a testament to the tireless work of tourism stakeholders and the continued efforts to highlight TT’s natural attributes.

"The ministry will continue to facilitate the development of both eco and community tourism to ensure the sustainability of these product offerings.”

The statement also quoted Tourism Trinidad Ltd interim CEO Carla Cupid, She said, “It is great news that our environmental conservation efforts are attracting more and more attention from the world of travel and tourism, especially the adventure-tourism markets. Tourism Trinidad will continue to promote the beauty and attractiveness of our nature-based attractions and support the protection of these assets.”

The top 25 destinations list was created by National Geographic's team of travel experts and international editors and included places which offered rich, diverse and immersive experiences.

The National Geographic website listed turtle-watching in TT among its Five trips to inspire the whole family in 2023

"Sea turtles survived the dinosaurs, but might not survive this century. Kids eager to help save the turtles – and encounter hundreds of them as well – can head to Trinidad and Tobago. With loggerheads, greens, leatherbacks, hawksbills, and olive ridleys –five of the seven species of sea turtles –swimming off its shores, this Caribbean nation is a mecca for turtle tourism.

"Nesting sites are found on both islands, with leatherbacks the most numerous. During the nesting season from March to August, an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 turtles amass on the country’s shores. Trinidad’s Grande Riviere beach, on the island’s north coast, is the densest leatherback nesting ground in the world."

Turtle-watching programmes led by approved guides generate revenue to help save turtles, threatened by climate change, habitat loss, and plastic pollution.

"Travellers can even volunteer to perform field work such as keeping nesting areas clear of debris, scanning and tagging nesting turtles, and tracking the size and numbers of turtles and their nests."

The website noted how turtle-watching helped conservation. Conservation success has come from volunteers spending untold hours tagging, counting, and measuring nesting mothers; monitoring and sometimes even relocating nests; and helping safeguard the turtles from predators and threats.

"Their hard work has caused leatherback meat and egg poaching to fall to near zero.

"Nests continue to be monitored all season, and volunteers work to ensure as many babies make it safely to the sea as possible. When there are hatchlings who can’t quite dig out of the nest on their own, volunteers will do a nest excavation, give the hatchlings some extra care, and then release them into the sea. And as some turtles choose inhospitable spots for nests – beach erosion is a major threat –volunteers may carefully relocate the nest, sometimes to an artificial hatchery."


"Turtles take Trinidad and Tobago to top tourism tier"

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