Department of Tourism leads green initiatives

The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is involved in several green
initiatives reports Journalist Joe Shooman.

Primary amongst these
is the Cayman Islands Environmental Programme for the Tourism Sector.
It is a multi-part initiative, which is being implemented in phases in
conjunction with the Department of Environment, said Gina Matthews,
Manager of Public Relations at the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
 
“Phase one was between January 2008 and December 2009 in which tourism
accommodations and attractions implemented environmental management
programmes and prepared for Green Globe Certification,” she said.
 
Green Globe Certification is the internationally recognised green
certification for the travel and tourism industry, explained Matthews.
 
A total of 248 Green Globe standards can be applied in order to reach
complete sustainability and standards are provided for a number of
categories including attraction, business, events, hotel and resorts,
restaurants, travel industry and more.
 
The certification is based on a number of documents including the STC
Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism Criteria, Baseline Criteria
of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas.
 
Other documents include Agenda 21 and principles for Sustainable
Development, which was endorsed by 182 governments at the 1992 Rio de
Janeiro Earth Summit and the Mohonk Agreement which is a 2000 consensus
for the harmonisation and development of common baseline standards.

Immediate impacts
There have been immediate impacts achieved through adjustments to
day-to-day working, as well as the wider picture, said the marketing and
public relations manager.
 
“Phase one [of the Cayman Islands Environmental Programme for the
Tourism Sector] also included the adoption of environmental programmes
for Department of Tourism and Department of Environment offices in which
environmental best practices such as printing on both sides of paper
and can collection for recycling have been implemented. 
 
“The Department of Tourism also adjusted air conditioning settings for
turn on and off resulting in savings of $1,000 per month,” explained Ms
Matthews.
 
The second phase of the Cayman Islands Environmental Programme for the
Tourism Sector will incorporate accommodations and attractions but also
suppliers within the industry and researching the possibility of
Destination Certification for Little Cayman.

Responsibilities
As a world-famous dive destination it is vital that Cayman is
environmentally responsible and the Department of Tourism are well-aware
of their responsibilities, said Ms Matthews.
 
“It is very important that the Department of Tourism leads responsible
tourism initiatives as we are responsible for developing the product and
marketing the product.
 
“Cayman promotes responsible tourism and, through the Cayman Islands
Environmental Programme for the Tourism Sector, as more and more
accommodations and attractions adopt environmental management programme,
the destination will not only be known for its marine conservation and
preservation practices but also its commitment to sustainable
development,” she explained.
 
Eco-responsible tourism and sustainable tourism has remained high on the
agenda with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation declaring
2002 the International Year of Ecotourism.
 
Countries have been encouraged to set themselves targets in
sustainability since then and the Green Globes have risen to become an
important voluntary standard of certification alongside public sector
initiatives.

The future
The Cayman Islands is active in looking to the future in developing and
expanding green tourism initiatives, continued Ms Matthews.
 
“The Cayman Islands Environmental Programme for the Tourism Sector phase
two will commence later this year and will incorporate additional
accommodations and attractions. 
 
“Also annually we hope to host the Living Green Fair in conjunction with
Department of Environment, which will be hosted this year at the
Governor’s House Lawns on 23 April,” she noted.
 
As an example, a similar but unconnected event that was held at Dania
Beach, South Florida, in 2009 showed attendees how to live well whilst
doing well of the earth. It included advice on better purchasing,
waste-reduction strategies and money-saving.
 
It brought together a collection of companies and organisations that
presented products, services and environmental programmes to the public.
 
The Cayman Islands Living Green Fair is a separate innovation to the
Florida event and is a collaboration between the Cayman Islands
Department of Tourism and Department of Environment, explained Ms
Matthews.

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