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( (George Town, Exuma, Bahamas). Climate change, global warming, biological diversity, desertification and pollution caused by prevailing patterns of human settlement, consumption and production impact on the environment and the natural resources base. The future of the planet, and mankind, has been seriously compromised by our very own activities, poor environmental planning, and use and abuse of wetlands and the coast for construction and development.

Hardly do we think that unfortunately, we did not inherit the world from our parents. We only borrow it from our children.

A crucial interdependence exists between tourism, climate, the environment and communities. The tourism industry, in its position as one of the world’s largest economic sectors and one of the most climate and environmental-dependent, is inextricably linked to economic development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental protection, according to Murray Simpson, United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Climate Change Consultant and research scientist, Oxford University Center for the Environment.

Guided by an earnest desire to save the earth for many generations to come, one resort in the Caribbean steps up to the plate and sets an example.

The Club Peace & Plenty, the charming and historical, colonial style 32-room inn located in George Town, Exuma launches a program this month for guests to submit their ideas in promoting sustainability or environmental and corporate social responsibility – the essence of being a green hotel business.

“These ideas will be published in our online newsletter with their names. It does not have to be an idea that helps the resort specifically. Anything that will improve on the government marina or the restaurant down the road will be accepted,” said Barry Benjamin, vice president for sales of the exotic Exuma resort.

In order to qualify, the idea has to work within an island destination setup. It has to be something that can be implemented and can make a difference. “If the idea works, we will get back to the guest and offer free dinner for all the people on their reservation or $150 credit on their bill.
If the idea is given to us, gets implemented and works while they are still at the resort, they can apply the discount to their bill before departure,”
added Benjamin.

Peace & Plenty has always been a leader in spreading the word on sustainability. After all, time is almost ripe for a guest choosing his hotel based on sustainability and carbon emissions or ecological footprint.
When one considers that each class of hotel offers more or less the same thing today, there needs to be an ever-increasing way to find a differentiator. “In the next year, we will approach the tipping point as far as this issue is concerned. I believe the hotel group who offers a real carbon-conscious alternative will rapidly gain a position so enviable,” said Chris Luebkeman, director for Global Foresight & Innovation, Arup Group. He added this will include a review of supply chain logistics that will make many uncomfortable while airlines are already coming under increased scrutiny.

Club Peace & Plenty’s motion comes on the heels of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) Cayman Island’s summit chaired by Sir Royston O. Hopkin, who was confirmed through a vote of trust and confidence by the Governing Council. CAST’s strategies for implementation are designed to address key Caribbean sustainability issues such as global warming, building design and performance efficiency, waste generation and management, land development, site selection and construction methods, and operational health and safety, among others. These issues were addressed with three new additions to CAST’s business plan including focusing on region-wide programs/projects to address the key issues and provide solutions, consolidation of data and information on hotel sustainability practices, solidification of alliances with regional and international partners in the Caribbean. “The group will continuity the need to strengthen initiatives throughout the Caribbean,” said Deirdre Shurland, director of CAST.
Clearly, Exuma’s Peace & Plenty has already taken the lead and is right on target.

Mainstream hotels may be reporting double-digit increases in recent utilities costs, representing the biggest surge in any individual expense in hotel operations. On the contrary, the green hotels such as Barry Benjamin's resort, have become more of a strategic operational initiative.

According to Ernst & Young LLP’s Hospitality Industry report 2007, the birth of the “1” brands seeks to address guests’ desire for a luxury, eco-friendly hotel brand while demonstrating green principles co-existing with green building certification. The economic benefits of green buildings, however still unclear, also show limited data suggesting that comply with the LEED standards and going ‘green’ enhances the operator’s ability to increase rates or gain market share. Rebates and tax shelters make some of the initiatives more appealing to industry players.

With issues such as global warming making headlines daily, the “feel good”
factor kicks in when the travel trade can associate green hotels and make them become more attractive to guests who shop hotels.

Peace & Plenty management has integrated responsible practices into the resort operation, benefiting the business and community in the vicinity at large. This green mentality improves market share and position, customer relations and repeat-guest loyalty.

According to the International Tourism Partnership founded by HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, who has inspired global leaders in the travel and tourism industry to develop policy and actively implement programs and
initiatives that impact social, economic and environmental issues,
‘admired’ companies attract investors and visitors. Hotel owners and operators who understand the environmental and socio-economic context in which they operate are better placed to manage risk and maintain their license to operate. Resource-efficient hotels not only improve the bottom line by eliminating wasteful practices, but also lighten their load on the planet.

In a separate development in Norway, another royal figure supports the green tourism initiative. Last week, Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway, recognizing the linkages between sustainable tourism and peace at the Global Ecotourism conference in Norway, asked the world to seriously look at how tourism prevents conflict and maintains peace. Queen Sonja is described as the “Ecotourism Queen” for her commitment to using tourism to preserve nature’s beauty. Noting the UN World Tourism Organization forecast of a billion annual arrivals in just four years, Lelei LeLaulu, chairman of Counterpart International, the co-sponsor of the Global Ecotourism Conference hosted by the Government of Norway, represents the International Ecotourism Society and the UN Environment Program moving tourism forward as the world’s largest and fastest growing industry.

Meanwhile, back in the humble place and quaint town of the Bahamas’ Out Island of Exuma, the Club Peace and Plenty continues extensive renovation of the hotel with the completion of the work on the east wing washrooms this September. “We are also planning to design, build and implement a waste water treatment plant for the Club Peace and Plenty. The treatment plant at the Peace and Plenty Beach Inn has worked extremely well in the last year.
We want to get the same benefits at the Club,” said Benjamin who definitely joins the elite group and royals with pushing the eco-phile -tourism agenda until we all understand it before too late.

For details, contact:
Barry Benjamin
14731 67th Trail, North
West Palm Beach, Florida 33418
561-309-6048 Cell
561-658-2686 Fax

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