Green Key and Blue Flag: Driving sustainable tourism in St. Maarten

Green Key and Blue Flag: Driving sustainable tourism in St. Maarten

By Foresee Foundation

Green Key and Blue Flag are prominent eco-labels aiming to enhance sustainability within the tourism and hospitality sectors. Overseen globally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), these programs are also managed at the national level by designated National Operators. In the case of St. Maarten, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) plays a pivotal role as the intermediary for FEE, ensuring the effective implementation of both eco-labels on the island.

EPIC’s responsibilities encompass a broad spectrum of activities. They disseminate crucial information about the programs, help interested establishments seeking certification, establish a national jury for assessment, bring together diverse stakeholders to foster collaboration and commemorate significant sustainability milestones achieved by the participating entities.

What specific strategies or initiatives does EPIC plan to implement to engage with hospitality establishments and promote the adoption of sustainable practices?

EPIC will focus on existing collaborations and establish new ones to engage with the tourism and hospitality sector. Implementing the programs is a collaborative effort between multiple sectors, and a successful implementation can only be done by collaborating and using each other’s strengths. EPIC has the responsibility to inform all relevant stakeholders of the implications and benefits of both eco-labels. We will focus on making the application process as transparent and attainable as possible, while we highlight the benefits in terms of cost savings and marketing advantages.

Considering the challenges posed by natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma and the impact of the pandemic, how does EPIC envision overcoming these obstacles to ensure the success of the programs?

As we have seen during our previous tenure, setbacks can be expected. However, EPIC will remain committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Green Key and Blue Flag to drive the tourism and hospitality sector. Having previously held the position of National Operator, we know what it takes to set up both programs as well as who can assist us in doing so. Through constantly improving our output and collaborating with stakeholders from a wide variety of sectors, including the government, hospitality and tourism associations, knowledge institutions, and eligible establishments for both Green Key and Blue Flag, we can ensure the long-term sustainability of these programs.

Could you share any success stories or notable achievements from EPIC's previous tenure as the National Operator for these programs from 2008 to 2017?

During our previous run as a National Operator, we got two hotels Green Key certified, signing them on to improve sustainability within their operations and educating staff and guests about it. Sustainable innovations made back then due to Green Key are still in place, and still lead to cost savings. During the same time, two hotels and a marina obtained the Blue Flag award, similarly becoming a change agent in the transition to a more sustainable tourism sector. This time, we hope to collaborate once again with these establishments and spread it much further than that.

What are the expected benefits and impacts of participating and how can they join?

Establishments can anticipate a range of benefits that positively impact their operations and reputation when joining Green Key or Blue Flag. One significant advantage for both the establishment and the local environment is the reduction in resource use costs, including water, electricity, and waste. This reduction is facilitated by the implementation of an environmental plan, for which the establishments will receive guidance from EPIC.

Additionally, joining these programs offers marketing benefits. With an increasing number of conscious travellers seeking eco-friendly accommodations and activities, affiliated establishments can cater to this market. Both eco-labels are internationally recognized, and with that validate the establishments’ sustainability efforts, as well as boost their reputation and build trust among environmentally conscious consumers. Interested establishments can contact EPIC via Program Manager Delroy de Lain: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / + 1 721 587 1318.

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