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EARTH DAY! Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Fights Pollution in Region

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BRIDGETOWN — This Earth Day, April 22, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) joins the worldwide celebrations.

Earth Day’s theme this year, “End Plastic Pollution,” is especially relevant for CHTA because preventing or removing plastic pollution remains a big challenge for many of our tourism enterprises and in fact, for many of our island destinations at large.

We recently saw the “plasticberg” of garbage that drifted into parts of our pristine Caribbean Sea, underscoring the plastic pollution that already spoils some of our beaches. So, it is even more urgent that we come together in a smart partnership with all sectors and communities to clean out the plastic pollution and ensure clean and pristine waters dominate the million square miles that comprise the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), CHTA’s nonprofit affiliate, continues to offer tourism enterprises and communities sustainability resources and share best practices to end the irresponsible dumping of plastics across the Caribbean.

On the occasion of Earth Day, CHTA is pleased to announce the planned introduction of a new section in the CHTA website’s Knowledge Center, dedicated to research, best practices and practical information to help guide hoteliers, their employees and guests in better understanding how they can help reduce the harmful effects from the proliferation of plastics.

As Earth Day organizers note, the alarming growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of not only our beautiful Caribbean, but also our planet as we know it, with effects ranging from poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, and from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills in the constrained space of our islands.

This Earth Day, we encourage our members to dedicate themselves to generating the inspiration and information needed to fundamentally change human attitudes and behaviors about plastics and motivate their team members, their families and communities to take personal responsibility for the plastic pollution that each one of us generates by choosing to reject or reduce plastics and to reuse and recycle where possible.

CHTA salutes its tourism enterprises that have successfully reduced the use of plastic in their operations, with creative alternatives to plastics for food containers, cutlery, cups and straws and the introduction of reusable water bottles. We also salute the destinations that have already begun to ban plastic checkout bags for groceries or other merchandise. By sharing these successes we hope to encourage and inspire more business to find plastic-free solutions.

To be successful, we need a Caribbean strategy that can fit into the Earth Day Network’s global framework to regulate such pollution, in particular in our tourism and hospitality sectors. Let’s encourage our governments, our hotels and tourism businesses to be leaders in keeping plastics out of our seas, and also engage with the cruise and airline industries to eliminate plastic waste.

Together, we can exhort universities, schools, school teachers and students to end plastic pollution throughout our islands.

Our fourth annual Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), the premier educational forum for Caribbean hospitality and tourism professionals (from June 22-24, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in Miami) will be an excellent forum to take this discussion to another level.

CHTA and CAST support the Earth Day Network’s mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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