The Cayman Islands is to become a ‘greener’ tourist destination.
This will include at least seven tourism properties taking on extra environmental responsibility with the ultimate goal of Green Globe 21 certification and the exploration of Green Globe destination certification for the island of Little Cayman.
Minister for Tourism and Environment Charles Clifford announced at a press conference Wednesday that the project, called the Cayman Islands Environmental Project for the Tourism Sector, will begin next month.
PA Consulting Group has been awarded the contract to provide tourism consulting services to the Cayman Islands Government. ‘. . . They have an unrivalled track record in the Caribbean of implementing similar environmental projects with great success,’ said the Minister.
CEPTS is a joint initiative between the Departments of Tourism and Environment and the tourism private sector for improved environmental performance within the industry.
Through CEPTS, the DoT and DoE will collaborate on the formulation and implementation of policies and incentives to encourage tourism businesses to adopt environmental management practices and minimize their sometimes detrimental impact on the environment.
‘In common with most countries in the region, tourism development in the Cayman Islands is primarily located within the sensitive coastal zone and there is a growing local awareness of the need to protect the environmental resources that attract visitors to our destination in the first place,’ explained the Minister. ‘The Cayman Islands must embrace the concept of sustainable tourism development if we are to develop, manage and preserve the industry not only for ourselves and for the Caymanian generations to come, but also for the generations of visitors who will call upon our shores in future years.’
Phase 1 of the project, which will last 18 months, focuses on conducting environmental audits and establishing environmental management systems for the tourist accommodations sector. Pilot properties include: Southern Cross Club, Little Cayman Beach Resort and Pirates Point Resort in Little Cayman; Brac Reef Beach Resort in Cayman Brac; and Compass Point, Sunshine Suites and Cobalt Coast Resort in Grand Cayman.
Among other things, the audits will review occupancy, water consumption, wastewater generation and electricity consumption data for a baseline period, and compare the property’s environmental performance with industry benchmarks.
Specific actions that can be taken to improve the property’s environmental performance will be identified and improvements monitored, with the ultimate goal of having the properties achieve Green Globe 21 Certification.
Green Globe 21 is an internationally recognised certification system for sustainable tourism and travel, explained Director of the Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie
‘The benefits to the properties are crystal clear,’ continued the Minister. He outlined these as: saving on energy bills; cutting back on pollution by recycling where possible and offering towel and linen reuse options; cutting down on toxic hazards by using environmentally friendly cleaning products; winning points with discerning consumers for sensitivity.
Also included in Phase One is the implementation of environmental management systems for DoT and DoE, based on the principle of learning by doing, as well as one of Grand Cayman’s major attractions, Pedro St. James.
The last part of Phase 1 is the exploration and investigation into destination certification for Little Cayman.
Director of Tourism Pilar Bush said: ‘There is a consistent and strong interest from the tourism private sector in Little Cayman to understand this and to see if they can meet the requirements to work towards this.’
‘Little Cayman is obviously the best positioned of the Cayman Islands to pursue a green destination programme,’ said the Minister. ‘The island has a very small, permanent population, few hotels and is already positioned in the international marketplace as a pristine and unspoilt destination.
‘Not only will this give us a competitive edge over other destinations, it will also help us to preserve the island’s stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife.’
Mr. Hugh Cressner, Sustainable Tourism Development Expert for PA Government Services said, ‘The Cayman Islands has to be commended for its efforts in committing to sustainable tourism development and creating a sustainable environment that will foster economic growth, increase livelihood and reposition the destination in the international marketplace.’