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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CSU forges Cuba connection: How to promote tourism without hurting communities and the environment

CSU forges Cuba connection: How to promote tourism without hurting
communities and the environment
Colorado and Cuban officials are seeking ways to promote sustainable
economic growth
By BRUCE FINLEY | bfinley@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
February 14, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Colorado State University is negotiating a formal deal with Cuba for
joint exploration of how to allow profitable tourism while not
destroying communities and the natural environment.

"We can learn from our Cuban colleagues, and they can learn from us
about how to do a better job at conservation while also promoting
sustainable economic growth," said Jim Barborak, co-director of CSU's
Center for Protected Area Management, which has run courses with
participants from more than 40 countries.

"We share issues with Cuba," he said.

President Donald Trump has said he will review all agreements with Cuba.

But a memorandum of understanding between CSU and Cuba's national parks
authorities, nearly completed, would clear the way for CSU to design and
run a course in Cuba starting later this year or in 2018, CSU officials
said.

For years, CSU has been hosting officials from Cuba and 40 other
countries for training courses in Colorado. CSU officials now are
capitalizing on the 2015 U.S. restoration of diplomatic and economic
relations with Cuba, which includes direct flights and easing of travel
restrictions for U.S. citizens.

Cuba's government has established the coastal marine Guanahacabibes
National Park and the Cienega de Zapata National Park, near the
so-called Bay of Pigs where U.S.-backed forces in 1961 attempted an
invasion to topple Cuba's nascent communist government.

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently visited Cuba to explore closer links. It
was unclear whether the CSU project was part of his talks. A spokeswoman
said Hickenlooper was not available Tuesday.

Federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration would participate, helping CSU incorporate a marine
coastal component and sharing knowledge on how best to protect marine
areas, said Bill Kiene, a NOAA marine sanctuaries specialist focused on
the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Cuba's government for years has run a controlled tourism industry
organized around beach resorts. Canadians and Europeans have accounted
for most visitors.

CSU courses in Colorado are based on field work in forests west of Fort
Collins, along rivers and in Dinosaur National Park.

Colorado has experienced unbridled growth without sufficient planning,
which degrades the environment, Barborak said. "At the same time, we're
really good at managing large numbers of visitors. We do have a lot of
experience in how to manage large flows of people to protect natural
areas and have most people walk away happy," he said.

"Here the government doesn't try to do everything, and that may be a
lesson for the Cubans."

Source: CSU forges Cuba connection: How to promote tourism without
hurting communities and the environment – The Denver Post -
http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/14/csu-cuba-tourism-environment/
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