by Donella Hosten
JetBlue, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, are educating travelers about how to “buy informed” and travel smart to the Caribbean.
The popular airline will now be featuring a short inflight video, with the hope of reducing and eliminating the demand for all products from endangered or illegally trafficked animals.
The video features conservationists from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Grenada, speaking about their coral reefs, blue and gold macaws, and sea turtles, respectively.
Grenada’s Kester Charles, Field Manager at Ocean Spirits, speaks about his experience with the sea turtles. In the video, Charles gives tips on how visitors can do their part to protect the turtles. He urges them not to support hotels which sell turtle meat, and avoid purchasing products such as jewelry that are made with turtle shells. The sea turtles here in Grenada can be seen at specific times laying their eggs. Charles encourages persons to come out and support this venture, as he said they rely heavily on the funding received from those who visit Levera Park for the turtle laying experience.
“More than one-third of our travel is to the Caribbean and Latin America. We are dedicated to protecting its beauty and health, which in turn protects tourism and our business,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s head of sustainability.
JetBlue believes that this short film is an effective way to educate the public. According to Service Director, Dan Ashe, “The potential to reach the 35 million people who fly with JetBlue each year is an unprecedented opportunity for us to communicate with the very people we hope will be empowered as guardians of the Caribbean’s wildlife.”
With this sort of traffic coming into the Caribbean, JetBlue hopes to turn the tide from simply buying, to experience-oriented services such as snorkeling, swimming and boat touring to view the wildlife.
On 3 March, 2016 – World Wildlife Day – JetBlue and the Service announced a 5–year partnership to combat wildlife trafficking. Since then, they have worked to engage local Caribbean conservation heroes in this short film. These individuals illustrate the important work taking place in local communities to protect wildlife.
Currently the US Fish and Wildlife Service supports the Conservation Leaders in the Caribbean Program (CliC), which is administered by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and St George’s University (SGU).