Caribbean hotels aim for sustainable future
Friday 12, November 2010
Caribbean hotels are committed to fixing mistakes made in the past in the drive for a more sustainable future it was revealed at WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day.
Speaking as part of the Hot Seat session on sustainability, Sandals Resorts International Chief Executive Adam Stewart said the industry had to address the issues and ‘fix’ the industry in order to leave something for our children.
BBC Presenter Stephen Sackur grilled Stewart on mistakes made in the past in terms of building and sustainability.
“We never had the environmental agencies or other organisations and it’s like smoking, you don’t know the damage you are doing until it’s done. The days of not being as efficient as possible are gone but it makes good business sense too.”
He admitted mistakes had been made with hotels built too close to the sea and said the company had demolished buildings and has been doing environmental impact assessments on properties for 15 years.
“Tourism is not the evil of the world but it’s finding the balance with sustainability and doing things for the right reason. It would be naïve to say the tourism business is not going to grow, it is, but there has to be something left for our children. We have to fix it.”
Stewart also talked about the Sandals Foundation, its philanthropic division, launched in March 2009, to start making a difference and encourage others to look at what they can do today. The company has ploughed more than US$6 million into the initiative in the past year including funding scholarships and adopting schools and is currently building two new schools.
He went on to stress the importance of education and how the region’s problems such as over-fishing and healthcare issue stemmed from a lack of education. Stewart also talked about how measuring diesel and LPG usage was more relevant than carbon footprint and admitted he did not know the company’s output.
“There’s zero relevance if I walk into our hotels in the six islands we operate in and say my carbon footprint is this but every single hotel tracks diesel and LPG usage. This year we have had two hotel expansions but we’re down 7% on operational consumables and there are more than 100 initiatives on how we do that.”
Sackur also tackled him on raising visitor awareness of sustainability and Stewart said it was not always easy to get holidaymakers interested in it although the company offers excursions out of resort to engage in local community projects.
“More than 800 people a day leave our resorts to do excursions, about 30%, and that supports local farming and communities and we then buy the crops back. Rome was not built in a day and some people are not there to hear about the problems of the world but the rate at which people’s interest level is rising is awesome.”
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