Hotels getting more green-conscious
LOCAL hotels are implementing plans to ensure sustainability in the island’s tourism industry and secure an advantage in the increasingly environmentally-conscious market.
Tourism officials are reporting a positive response to the Environmental Audits for Sustainable Tourism (EAST) programme which is being carried out by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Through this programme, properties are undergoing environmental audits and receiving recommendations to make their operations environmentally-friendly. So far, six hotels have received the prestigious Green Globe certification and others are preparing for assessment.
Director-general in the Ministry of Tourism, Carole Guntley-Brady, said “the results have been overwhelmingly successful and this is helping to place Jamaica and the participating hotels on the cutting edge of green tourism”.
Mockingbird Hill Hotel in Negril, one of the first properties to be certified, recently received a Green Globe Award for being the most environmentally-friendly hotel in the Caribbean. The hotel operates its own sewage treatment plant, uses solar panels for water heating and has installed water saving devices and energy bulbs throughout the property.
Sandals Negril, another Green Globe certified hotel, has managed to cut both its water and electricity consumption by almost 10 per cent, noted environmental activist, Richard May. By operating a compost heap, the hotel has also cut its fertiliser bill by 90 per cent.
“We also do a lot of recycling. Our old bed linen is made into laundry bags and we make our iron board covers from old bed spreads and all of our wash cloths are made from old beach towels,” May said.
The Green Globe certification should help local properties to gain ground in the competitive global hospitality market as travelers have indicated that environmental concerns influence their decisions on destinations.
In her sectoral presentations in the house earlier this year, tourism minister, Portia Simpson-Miller quoted a recent survey of international travellers which revealed that “91 per cent of the respondents were concerned about the environmental conditions of the destinations that they were planning to visit”.
Executive director of the JHTA, Camille Needham, said Green Globe status should definitely be used as a marketing tool.
“Sustainability is now the buzz word in tourism and the Green Globe certification helps in the marketing because people want to know that a hotel is making a contribution in that respect,” she said.