Have you ever wanted to dive into that glossy brochure? Experience the tropical paradise displayed? Maybe you can just taste the salt on your tongue, eyes closed in your swimsuit as you lounge beneath a shady palm, or maybe you would rather stay in a luxurious hotel and sip on strawberry daiquiris and martinis? Sadly holidays can cause a huge strain on the host destination’s natural resources, economy and people. Fortunately, Barbados has been committed to sustainable tourism practices from as early as the 1990s, introducing legislation and business measures to ensure that visitors are welcome to enjoy our island with minimal damage to our environment, people and economy.
Sustainable tourism is an alternative form of tourism which does not harm the environment culture or the economy but works in harmony with it. Tourism can cause ecological degradation, loss of cultural heritage and dependency. Sustainable tourism is intended to benefit the host destination more than it destroys it. In Barbados, tourism represents over forty percent of our GDP and it is the largest employer in the private sector (over twenty-six thousand people are employed here). It goes without saying, that the industry on which so many of us rely should be protected. As such, we should require that all tourism activities, whether business based, holiday, adventure or otherwise be environmentally responsible.
David Comissong a Barbadian CARICOM advocate decided to make a case for Caribbean countries to go green in 2019. A key focus is the hotel industry - according to Comissong a sustainable hotel is one that employs local workers, has a local food input system and is locally owned. He also insisted that hotels should feature local art, craft and furniture while providing opportunities for local artists and entertainers, develops national cuisine and utilises solar and photovoltaic energy sources. This creates a more holistic tourism package, allowing Barbados to offer than sea, sun and sand! He also mentioned local transportation, assistance to craft sellers and beach vendors, the conservation of the local water supply by catching and using the hotel’s runoff rainwater and encouraging visitors to indulge in the entire island. This way, the local community benefits much more!
As a result of this and many other efforts, when you embark on your travels many hotels have a ‘green stay option’ where visitors can choose to reuse sheets, shampoo bottles and more. Hotels can also offer smaller-sized meals to reduce food wastage, provide reusable containers for food and are in the process of eliminating single-use plastics such as straws, water bottles and shampoo containers. They have also opted for the installation of LED lights which is more energy efficient at a lower cost.
One such hotel is Eco Lifestyle and Lodge located on the east coast of the island, specifically the village of Bathsheba. Committed to reducing their carbon footprint on the earth owners Kyle and Maryam are focused on creating a conscious and wellness experience for your stay. Kickback at their sea-side location, nestled in the cosy village of Bathsheba and swing in a white hammock as you watch the sunset dip on the east coast. They have renovated their villa to more fully reflect their conscious lifestyle, focusing on a more natural approach. With grand reviews since its reopening in 2018, Kyle and Maryam have updated their menus to include local sea-side cuisine and food from innovative farms.
Restaurants are also keen on sustainable culinary tourism even at the added expense of purchasing alternative containers; most businesses now use paper bags or invite customers to bring their own. In May 2009 members at the Future Centre Trust (a local non-profit organisation) partnered with government officials to introduce standards for more green businesses. The key components were: waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation and renewable energy. Some companies opt for alternative sources of power, rather than Barbados Light and Power which imports fossil fuels to power the island. Local businesses are also keen on pollution control and management and water conservation. They are urged to assess their water-use practices and engage in conservation as much as possible, especially considering Barbados is a water-scarce island. In March 2010 the British High Commission was the first organization to be awarded the green business award. This was through the GBB programme which offers a local green business programme and also attempts to facilitate the creation of a green economy, products and services. This path creates new business opportunities for locals to provide environmentally-friendly products and skills.
Barbados even supports this sustainable tourism shift through legislative means. As of April 2020, Barbados has passed another measure on our ban on single-use plastics; a bill introduced and passed in 2018. Single-use plastics include straws, styrofoam containers, plastic bags, cups and egg plates. These legislative measures are in efforts to move Barbados towards a green plastic-free economy. The first part of the legislation came into effect on April 1st 2018 and this prohibited the importation of single-use plastics. Step 2, effective July 1st 2018 ceased the sale and distribution of these plastics. Finally, effective April 2020, a ban was placed on petrol-based plastic bags, excluding those used for pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, and food.
Barbados is so committed to the earth we have goals of being plastic-free and one hundred percent green and carbon-neutral by 2030. To ensure these initiatives received enough attention a ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy was established. In the words of our Governor General, the ministry is: “charged with responsibility for preserving Barbados’ coastlines, our marine environment, the health of our reefs and the habitats of our marine plants and animals.”
We do hope you are still keen on diving head-first into that brochure showing crystalised waters, golden sunsets and warm sand while keeping in mind ways to enjoy your stay and preserve the environment! Barbados makes this process easy through our legislation and cultural focus on creating a sustainable tourism product which encompasses local food, entertainment, art and transportation. Book your stay with Eco Lifestyle Lodge or other sustainable hotels today!