BEACHES Negril Resort and Spa has earned Blue Flag certification from the Negril Area Protection Trust (NEPT) and the international non-profit organisation, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas in Europe, Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, and the Caribbean. NEPT runs the Jamaica Blue Flag programme in collaboration with FEE.
Properties, such as Beaches Negril, which earn Blue Flag certification, have to volunteer to meet strict environmental sustainability criteria, such as maintaining clean water supplies that meet local and international health standards, promoting environmental education and information for the public, policymakers and tourism operators, and endorsing environmental management and safety.
"Beaches Negril was designed as an environmentally friendly hotel," said environmental health and safety director for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Richard May.
"It is only natural that we would expand our existing environmental stratifications or projects to include the marine environment, and we find the Blue Flag programme to be the right fit for our sustainability model," he added.
Meanwhile, November 1 was the launch of the 2011 Blue Flag season in Jamaica. Each season, a national Blue Flag jury visits and judges different beach properties across Negril to assess whether they meet the environmental sustainability criteria. Beaches Negril hosted the awards ceremony and was among 11 properties across Jamaica — including the Urban Development Corporation's Ocho Rios Bay Beach and Long Bay Beach Park — which achieved certification.
"This is one of the highest illustrations of what it is to be a corporate citizen," said former National Blue Flag co-ordinator and director, Winsome Townsend. "I commend you for your willingness to take on this challenging programme and for succeeding at it. In a time when we have much unstable weather and natural disasters, it is especially important to make our beaches and properties more resistant and ultimately enhance and add value to our country's tourism product."
The Blue Flag certification is the latest eco-friendly recognition achieved by Beaches Negril. This year, Beaches Negril, along with the three other Beaches properties — Beaches Sandy Bay, Beaches Boscobel and Beaches Turks & Caicos — achieved their second Green Star Diamond Award for environmental consciousness from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
All Sandals and Beaches resorts have also been awarded the coveted international Green Globe Award for environmental stewardship and are Green Globe certified. In 2005, Beaches Negril received the Kuoni Green Planet Award for environmental friendliness. Beaches' sister property, Sandals Negril Beach Resort and Spa, was also awarded two-year double platinum certification from the international environmental sustainability firm EarthCheck this year.