[sustainable-tourism] Blue Flag to be implemented in the Caribbean
Blue Flag to be implemented in the Caribbean
Blue Flag to be Adapted to Caribbean Beaches
Recently, the Blue Flag Caribbean Feasibility Workshop, an environmental joint effort between four international organizations and over fourteen countries, was held in Puerto Rico with promising results. The most important breakthrough the representatives made was agreeing on the need to implement an environmental program for beaches in the Caribbean. Among other resolutions of the two-day meetings, the delegates accepted the idea of adopting the European Blue Flag Program to the Caribbean Region, and committed to return to their respective countries and determine what standards should be set for recognition within the Caribbean. By March 2000, they expect to choose beaches in the Caribbean to use as pilots for the Program.
The Workshop was called by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP IE), the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE), and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), a subsidiary of the Caribbean Hotel Association. The purpose was to discuss the feasibility of the Blue Flag environmental beach quality program in beaches of the Caribbean, in response to the increasing threat of poor quality of water. The group was composed of representatives from many organizations and countries, including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, St. Kitts, Barbados, Martinique, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Denmark.
One of the challenges the Blue Flag program will have is to gain consensus around the Caribbean for the water quality standards to be established in the Region. However, the members stated they looked forward to be able to identify Caribbean beaches as environmentally clean and healthy in a near future. The Blue Flag Program currently recognizes 1,500 beaches throughout Europe and is widely recognized by European authorities and travelers as a distinguishing mark for quality beaches.
In her opening remarks to the Workshop delegates, Kelly Robinson, Director of CAST, noted the absence of the cruise industry among the audience, in light of the importance of clean waters and beaches to this area of tourism. "One of the major cruise lines which operates throughout the Caribbean was charged for the third time for discharging waste water effluents directly into the ocean. The US Coast Guard discovered the violation to the international water acts, and the cruise line was fined $18 million dollars. Although the fine is the largest environmental levy ever weighed against a company, the same cruise line was prosecuted only months later for a repeated violation", stated Robinson to the audience.
For more info, contact:
Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism
Caribbean Hotel Association
1000 Ponce de Leon 5th Floor
San Juan, Puerto Rico