Sint Maarten – Local beaches and marina awarded the Blue Flag

Autre
Par Autre 21 Déc 2014 10:36

Sint Maarten –  Local beaches and marina awarded the Blue Flag

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The Blue Flag Award ceremony was attended by representatives from government, foundations, and the tourism sector to recognize environmental and safety achievements of Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Yacht Club Isle de Sol, and Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. Photo: Rodney Richardson.

At a ceremony on Friday, three sites on St. Maarten were awarded the Blue Flag eco-label, which is bestowed annually on beaches and marinas throughout the world that meet strict environmental and safety criteria. Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, and Yacht Club Isle de Sol were commended for their high standards and voluntary efforts towards environmental sustainability.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), which organized the event, is the National Operator for the Blue Flag Program on St. Maarten and responsible for conducting site audits and assembling a local jury to review applications. The program is run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and includes over 4,000 beaches and marinas in 48 countries worldwide.

EPIC President Natalia Collier welcomed attendees and noted the contributions of the many people who made the program a success, “Rueben Thompson has led the way in bringing the program to where it is today. People said it could not be done here but his dedication has made this sustainable tourism award a reality. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Kathleen Shupe of the American University of the Caribbean who made an enormous contribution by voluntarily testing water quality at Blue Flag beaches twice every month for five years and running.”

Mr. Emil Lee, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, spoke about the current and pending impacts of climate change and the rising costs of fossil fuels which threaten our tourism economy, “Preserving our environment is…our fiduciary obligation to future generations. As CHTA, we are proud to be a part of this process and will continue to support it in every way possible.”

Ms. Lisa Noel of the Tourist Bureau remarked that partnerships are a major component of the success of the Blue Flag on St. Maarten and noted her bureau’s work along with EPIC, the Hospitality and Trade Association, the Timeshare Association, and the Marine Trades Association who have all been instrumental partners.

Mr. Clayton Felix of the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs awarded the Blue Flag to the recipients, emphasizing the hard work and dedication of the three sites in achieving the award.

Mr. Ricardo Perez of Oyster Bay Beach Resort commended the staff that made the award possible, including Mr. Adil Benjamin, the Blue Flag coordinator for the site. This is Oyster Bay’s first year as a Blue Flag site and they look forward to continuing to build their environmental and safety stewardship in the coming years.

Mr. Brian Deher spoke on behalf of Yacht Club Isle de Sol. Now entering its fifth year as a Blue Flag site, the marina has made many improvements including, most recently, expanded recycling facilities which remove oil from used oil filters for recycling.

Marije Lodewijks of Divi Little Bay Beach Resort discussed environmental measures such as the recent installation of kiosks that allow for the use of non-disposable cups on the beach as well as recycling bins and environmental activities for beachgoers. The resort has also installed a wheelchair accessible ramp to allow all guests to enjoy the beach.

EPIC encourages the continued growth of the Blue Flag award for St. Maarten and hopes to see it become a larger part of the vital tourism economy. Managers of beaches or marinas interested in the Blue Flag award may contact Natalia Collier at ncollier@epicislands.org or 545-3009.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) is a registered non-profit organization in the United States and a registered foundation in St. Maarten founded in 2000 with the mission to protect the Caribbean environment through research, outreach, and community-based action.

The Foundation for Environmental Education is a non-government, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education.FEE is mainly active through its five environmental education programmes: Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment, Learning about Forests and Green Key.

Autre
Par Autre 21 Déc 2014 10:36

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