A greener future for brand Cayman

| 19/09/2008

(CNS): Updating the public on advancements in green issues, the National Tourism Management Plan, the Go East initiative, Cayman Airways and the pending arrival of a new dive attraction, the Minister for Tourism, Charles Clifford, opened the Annual Tourism Conference yesterday, 18 September. “This government has pursued a multi-faceted approach to tourism which incorporates priorities identified within our National Tourism Management Policy and provides a disciplined strategy for managing the industry over the next five years,” he said.

The minister told the audience that the preservation of the environment, specifically designed greening projects and our cultural heritage would be key elements in future policy. He also said that global competition and an economic downturn would see the Department of Tourism (DoT) adopting strategic marketing policies that would see Cayman sold as three unique islands in one destination.

The Minister announced that the New Tourism Management Policy 2008–2012 will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly during the week of 6 October.  He also delivered the news that while Cayman Airways was engaged in negotiations to acquire additional equipment for the expansion of its tourism routes into the United States as well as into Central America, the Embraer 170s had been eliminated for this winter season, although two other models are reportedly still being considered.  “CAL is currently engaged in developing a policy for medium- to long-term fleet planning,” he added.

Another major announcement concerned the arrival of the USS Kittiwake, a retired US Naval Vessel which will be sunk to create a new dive site. The Ministry of Tourism recently signed an MOU with Cayman Islands Tourism Association to operate, maintain and bear fiscal and environmental responsibility for the new wreck site. With the environment in mind, considerable efforts have been made to ensure there will be no marine damage during the sinking and that the vessel is completely cleaned of any potential to bring in invasive species. Once in place it will serve to relieve existing dive sites. “This site will benefit our marine ecology by providing artificial habitats for fish and much desired relief for some of our frequently visited dive sites,” said Clifford who added that such sites are very popular with divers.

Meanwhile, over at Boatswains Beach, the home of the Turtle Farm, the Minster confirmed that work was underway to replenish a section of reef affected by the attraction’s operations. The president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, Dr Thomas Goreau, is working closely with the facility, and he has said that once the farm has cleaned up the effluent it has been putting into the ocean, he is confident he can restore the reef. The farm is also exploring alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar and hydro power and has adjusted the water operating system to improve energy conservation. Estimates suggest that this has resulted in electricity savings of some $400,000 annually. “We welcome the continued progress at Boatswain’s Beach to tackle historical problems by improving current operational practices,” said the minister, who added, however, that the facility was not without its challenges.

Elsewhere on all three islands green initiatives are slowly but surely coming to fruition. The Minister said that aside from working with other UK Overseas Territories on direct initiatives to minimise the impact of climate change, “we have passed and are continuing to implement enabling legislation for environmental protection". However, the long-awaited National Conservation Bill has still not been tabled in the Legislative Assembly. Earlier this year the Ministry said it would be tabled this summer but it failed to materialise, and recent comments from the minister have indicated it may appear during the next session, which starts on 6 October, though Clifford did not mention the bill in his speech.

He did, however, talk about CEPTS, a two-phase project which will see tourism operations establishing environmental management systems through the Green Globe Certification process.

“Environmental management involves comprehensively reviewing all elements of an organisation’s operations, looking at the efficient use of resources such as water and energy, the reduction of waste generation, and minimising the environmental impact of certain activities. It also entails creating policies to monitor operations and plan improvements,” Clifford explained, adding that seven pilot properties have undergone Environmental Management Training

“In the same arena, we are also pursuing destination certification for Little Cayman,” he said.

The minister also noted that the Go East initiative was part of the greening of tourism policy as it was a catalyst for new and more eco-friendly attractions in the eastern end of Grand Cayman, including the East End Dive Lodge, which is being redeveloped as an eco-friendly resort.

Clifford noted the success of the creation of Wildlife Interaction Zones. “Last year, we passed legislation to bring such zones into force for Stingray City and the Sandbar. This is working well and marine officers regularly patrol to ensure that interaction with the stingrays is regulated,” he said. “The legislation bans the removal from the water of stingrays or any other marine life within the protected zone and enhances visitor safety by providing guidelines for anchoring vessels in the zone.”

Alongside highlighting green issues, the minister commended the people policies such as PRIDE, which emphasises the importance of customer service for everyone who interacts with tourists, and the TATP, which is encouraging young Caymanians to pursue careers in the business.

The Minister also spoke about the strategies being adopted to mitigate world economic problems and reiterated the DoT’s commitment to promoting Cayman as a high-end destination for what have been described as recession-proof visitors. He also described a new campaign to highlight the identity of all three Cayman Islands.

“While our current identity is based primarily on Grand Cayman and its offerings, we believe that all three islands have unique attributes, distinguishing each from the others and contributing to this wonderful multi-faceted destination experience which is the Cayman Islands,” he said. “

A high-quality marketing campaign complete with creative work to characterize the special identities of all three islands is now being tested and utilized in the Canadian market.”

He explain that under the banner three islands, one idyllic destination, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are being marketed for their individual features offering clients greater diversity within one product.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All this baloney about looking at solar waters heaters for the Turtle farm…… i almost forgot the destruction of george town harbour and sorrounding reefs.    But i realize that such an inconvenient truth like that – couldnt make the cut in such a "green speech".  I wonder how many people are fooled by all this?

  2. Anonymous says:

    In light of the reported propensity of the Planning Authorities to continue to hear applications that have been publicly regarded as environmentally disastrous, could they not be directed as policy to pay due regard from now on and with immediate effect to the provisions of the long-awaited National Conservation Bill due to be enacted later this year?

  3. Anonymous says:

     

    Summary:

    "A greener future for brand Cayman"

    "… Clifford did not mention the (National Conservation) bill in his speech."

    "one idyllic destination… being marketed "