The first National Parks Day was celebrated on Monday October 31 with an appreciation ceremony held at the Amphitheatre of the Botanic Gardens.
Director (Ag) of the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (NPRBA), Andrew Lockhart said the organisation’s focus revolves around public awareness, education and climate change.
He stressed that the organisation aims to preserve ecosystems, the environment and culture by ensuring that “biodiversity and cultural diversity are kept intact.”
Lockhart further commended the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Conservation Fund and the SVG Environmental Fund for their role in providing financial assistance for many recreational sites which needed enhancement and upkeep.
Chairman of the board of directors of NPRBA, Gideon Nash said recreational sites continue to be maintained by the organisation, these being the Dark view Falls, Wallilabou Falls, and the Botanic Gardens; and there are plans to establish a Biodiversity Centre in the future.
Nash added that the intention has always been for these sites to be profitable and generate their own revenue.
“We are not only self-sufficient in revenue, but we are also self-sufficient is our human resource,” Nash said.
In his remarks, Minister of Tourism and Sustainable Development, Carlos James announced that this year is going to be a record cruise season with more than 300 vessels arriving, and many tourists will be visiting recreational sites.
James said the government allocated over $1-million in site rehabilitation, Dark View Falls being one of those sites which, when it’s completed, will have an area for massage therapy or a hot stone massage.
The minister emphasised that there are certain standards which must be maintained at these sites and urged all stakeholders to “take responsibility to beautify our country”.
The guest speaker, Tourism Consultant and executive assistant of the Hotel and Tourism Association, Vera-anne Brereton said it was important to make recreational sites more interesting with added attractions and activities to further generate revenue.
The National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (NPA) is a statutory body which is mandated to protect the rich natural, cultural and historic heritage of SVG (API).