MONTEGO BAY, St James - TOURISM and Entertainment Minister Wykeham McNeill has challenged stakeholders in the sector to augment alternative energy supply sources and expand the use of supporting energy in a collaborative effort to keep the industry buoyant.
"As a sector, I am encouraging all our tourism partners to do what you can incrementally and over time to expand your energy options and increase your use of sustainable energy," McNeill charged.
"I want to encourage our tourism sector partners to seriously explore the use of alternative and sustainable energy sources, in our collective efforts towards the future sustainability of the tourism industry".
Meanwhile, former President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Wayne Cummings noted that for a downward trend in energy costs to be realised, an energy policy would have to be written, "agreed to, and we all stick to it".
"So we need to figure it out and make it known to everybody," Cummings argued.
Cummings, who is also the Sandals Resorts International (SRI) director of administrator and business processes, was speaking during a World Tourism Day Luncheon held at the Sandals Montego Hotel, where McNeill, Junior Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford and other tourism officials, were in attendance.
Prior to the luncheon, the party toured a villa at the resort in which suites are fully powered by solar technology, allowing for the harnessing and storing of energy to power sections of the resort's operation, through a pilot project undertaken jointly with Panasonic.
Paul Grey, head of ATL Energy and Engineering, said with the US$100,000 investment, savings of up to US$120,000 could be realised within a decade.
In the meantime, conceding that the cost of establishing alternative energy sources will be costly at the beginning, the tourism and entertainment minister also underscored the need to retrofit, among other solutions.
"We have entities of varying sizes and I realise the initial costs involved may seem daunting, but it may be that you need to retrofit your bulbs, install solar panels, implement waste water management systems plus a myriad of other solutions," McNeill noted.
He further noted that energy strategies should form a major plank of each entity's Environmental Management Policy.
"So today (Thursday) is a good time to once again seriously consider plans to implement energy solutions in a manageable form that will allow you to monitor the performance and provide real readings on the effect on your bottom line," McNeill remarked.
"Let each and every one of us play our part in 'Powering Sustainable Development' to the benefit of our sector, our society and nation at large".