SLHTA Presidents Earth Day Message
As billions of people across the globe prepare to observe this year’s Earth Day under the theme, “Invest in our Planet”, the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) reiterates its commitment to preserving our planet.
Especially on Earth Day, we are reminded of the importance of protecting our planet – whether in the workplace, communities or the marine environment. Investing in our planet means that everyone needs to commit to divest away from unsustainable investments and instead support environmental brands and products. We endorse such a bold undertaking and have demonstrated our words through actions.
When it was first observed on April 22, 1970, who would have thought back then that Earth Day would have metamorphosed into such a global movement? Who back then would have imagined the continued massive efforts at creating awareness aimed at mitigating the deleterious consequences of climate change? Who would have imagined that there were negative consequences to deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, overfishing, and heavy reliance on pesticides and plastics?
Over the past 52 years, people everywhere have had to adopt a culture of co-existence, where they had to recognize and appreciate that every species of flora and fauna matters. We have all come to realize that creating a balance in nature contributes immensely towards protecting essential ecosystems.
In Saint Lucia, for example, there was a massive effort in the early 1990s to protect not only the sanctity of the island’s national bird – the Amazona versicolor, or Saint Lucian Parrot – but also its very existence. Today, through legislation, the Amazona versicolor is a protected species. This is just one example of people recognizing the important intrinsic value of the natural environment.
But we need to do more to protect other species, including our various species of turtles that are continuously being poached on our beaches. We also need to ensure a heightened vigilance for marine species, especially during nesting season.
For its part, the SLHTA, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), also lends support to ensuring that the marine environment is preserved. In fact, an underwater tree-planting exercise to preserve coral reefs using sunken boats off the coast of Saint Lucia demonstrates our commitment in that regard.
Through this exercise, the SLHTA creates more awareness about the benefits of our blue economy while urging people to desist from polluting our oceans through recreational and commercial means.
At the SLHTA, we believe in the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” principle which aids in protecting ecosystems. Going green is an important aspect and selling point for our industry. This is why many of our member properties are green globe-certified.
As such, the SLHTA partners with hotels to host candle-light dinners and employ other sustainable practices to reduce our reliance on electricity generated by fossil fuel. We also organize beach clean-ups and tree-planting exercises aimed at ensuring our natural environment is preserved in pristine form. These activities, we believe, serve to offset the damage caused to the ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). We have also eliminated the use of drinking straws from our properties, thereby reducing the use of plastics.
As a small island developing state, Saint Lucia’s vulnerability to the catastrophic effects of climate change is exceedingly high. With tourism being the flagship of many Caribbean territories, we are all familiar with the tremendous losses that we experience each year as the Atlantic Hurricane Season becomes excruciatingly worse on our economies.
Globally, we need to ramp up efforts aimed at reforestation, adopting communities and creating awareness. We believe the private sector needs to spearhead those efforts in collaboration with government and non-governmental agencies. Together, we can achieve what often seems insurmountable.
As we celebrate this year’s Earth Day, the SLHTA encourages everyone to pause and reflect on the many investments we would have made over the years to protect our environment, and, by extension, the planet. Consequently, let us strengthen our collective resolve to continue the work of coming up with more ways in which we can sustain these efforts.
The SLHTA wishes all partners and stakeholders a Happy Earth Day.
President, Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA)