Asset management should be understood in broad terms and should not privilege one form of the asset over another; all types of assets should be equally valued and protected. Natural or cultural assets are vulnerable and can be negatively impacted over time, and any management system for these kinds of assets needs to take into account long-term impacts. Tourism infrastructure should enhance or improve local services or quality of life to ensure that the local community is deriving benefits. Without sound environmental and cultural asset management, it is impossible for a CBT venture to develop in a sustainable way over a long period of time.
Physical infrastructure includes lodging, communications facilities, transport routes, waste, energy or water management systems, or tour equipment.
Make an inventory of all assets
A useful way to think about the different kinds of assets any CBT venture has and to ensure their conservation is to categorize the venture’s operations in terms of people/planet/profit (CREM BV 2005). As a CBT venture grows, it is important to balance growth or profit against the potential damage to people or planetary resources. One method of asset management is the IBISTA system, which stands for ‘Integral Biodiversity Impact Assessment System Tourism Activities. This is one way a tour operator can track the positive and negative impacts on local biodiversity caused by tourism, and adjust tourism activities accordingly. IBISTA gives tour operators the tools to evaluate the impact of tourism, negotiate and communicate the risks of that impact with stakeholders, and modify tourism activities as a
result. Keeping an up to date inventory of available resources based on input from all CBT stakeholders is good asset management practice. Whatever method of asset and impact assessment is decided on, it should be made a core part of the operation.
Use asset protection in CBT marketing
CBT does not happen in isolation from the mainstream tourism industry in an area. One of the best ways a CBT venture can set itself apart from tourist companies catering to large volumes of tourists and giving tourists a standard, package experience is by emphasising the sustainable use of natural resources and the meaningful investment in local human and cultural resources (Caribbean Natural Resources Institute 1999).
Directing finances toward improved quality of life
CBT ventures must be aware of the by-products of increased tourism in the area, for example, energy consumption or waste. Whenever possible, linkages should be made between CBT tourism infrastructure and other quality of life initiatives designed to improve local welfare. Tax revenues generated by CBT projects can be used to fund general quality of life or infrastructure programs, which improve local conditions while also strengthening tourism in the region.
Build a framework for sustainable tourism
Natural resources (or natural heritage resources), for example, an environmental asset such as a region with rich biodiversity, need to be managed by building a framework for sustainable tourism, which develops tourism ventures that are sensitive to the local environment. Government policies that are favorable to sustainable cultural and environmental asset management and protection for CBT ventures may include the following:
• Environmental legislation (establishment of protected areas and buffer zones as well
as NRM policies)
• Visitor permits (long length of stay without a visa and lack of restrictions on the
movement of tourists)
• Political structures that foster stability and strengthen the land ownership rights of
communities to develop and own tourism developments
• Financial incentives for socially and environmentally sound tourism infrastructure
All forms of assets-natural, cultural, and physical-need to be carefully managed and protected to ensure the sustainability of the CBT venture. If a CBT venture does not build asset management into its operations, it runs the risk of destroying the very assets, which attract visitors. Land use or tenure planning and natural resource strategies are key to sustainably managing the development of an area without impacting adversely its natural heritage.