Martinque : Creole culture, giant ferns and humming birds that don't back down from a staring contest.

While travel was frozen in 2020, Martinique celebrated the induction of its traditional yole sail boat. -a lightweight craft kept upright by crew members, who use their body weight as ballast by sitting on poles that extend over the side of the hulls - on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

In the fall of 2021, the entire island was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, recognizing the destination's commitment to sustainable economic and social development.

Islanders are awaiting yet another decision from UNESCO, which they hope will name Mount Pelee, a nearly 4,600-foot [1,400 meters] volcano, and the Pitons du Carbet range to the World Heritage List.

The region represents ''the diversity of Martinique,'' said Alex Dobat, who owns Natiyabel, a scuba diving and hiking outfitter whose name means ''nature is beautiful'' in Creole.

He described ferns the size of trees, wild begonias and hummingbirds ''staring at you quietly.''

Tourism officials are counting on the UNESCO certifications to attract ecotourists to its peaks, rainforests, reefs and Creole culture. [Elaine Glusac]


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