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Caribbean Green

The 12th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) was a significant breakthrough for the green movement  –  Sustainability and the global economic and environmental outlook, and the “greening” of existing and new hotels, mixed-use developments and vacation ownership, were high on the agenda of the topics of discussion at the 12th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) held in Port of Spain, Trinidad last month.  A record-breaking 522 delegates from related industries met at the newly opened Hyatt Regency, including hotel and real estate developers, government representatives, banks and other lenders, brand hotels, cruise lines, airlines and tour operators.  A total of 10 colleagues, including me, were in attendance, representing OBM International.

Tim Peck, Regional Director of OBM International and featured speaker and panel moderator at CHTIC, believes that this conference was extremely beneficial to its participants.  “According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, there is currently more than $100 billion in investment in tourism in the region,” said Tim.  “Tourism is the mainstay of many of the Caribbean islands’ economies, and the region continues to be one of the targeted locations for global hotel and real estate investment.  With the industry’s push toward environmental sensitivity and green building, we hope that the region will become a world leader in sustainable development.”

 

CHTIC featured a broad range of sessions on environmental and social initiatives, including developing a green hotel or resort, green renovations and operations, and sustainable destination strategies.  Lyndall De Marco, executive director of the International Tourism Partnership, presented the keynote address, focused on the growing green movement in the travel and hospitality industry.  “Going green is no longer just a one-off project, it’s finally understood that it’s about the entire world we live in,” De Marco said. “It’s our entire life,” she said, adding, “The time has come for a commitment from all parties and it must come from the top down, with staff training and motivation.”

Among the trends discussed in the green sessions was the European market’s strong push for destinations to be eco-friendly.  Both tour operators and consumers are demanding that their hotels operate with sustainability as a priority.  TUI, Europe's largest tour operator, is now only working with hotels that support its environmental standards.  Although the US market is lagging behind Europe, they are expected to follow–and follow with great impetus.  This was seen as a major opportunity for many hoteliers, both in terms of cost efficiency and in maintaining their competitive marketing position.  The general consensus from hoteliers, consultants, developers and construction professionals is that these issues need to be addressed urgently, as the consumer is making decisions based upon sustainability.

Another important theme discussed was the issue of property certification.  Currently, there are a range of certification systems that assess environmental performance and social issues; the most relevant of these for the Caribbean are LEED (the US Green Building standard, focusing on design criteria) and Green Globe (the ecotourism standard, for operations).  These systems are valuable methods for measuring and monitoring standards and performance, which require a great deal of commitment from building owners.

Many panelists highlighted the importance of planning for development with environmental issues in mind from the outset, to eliminate the need for expensive retrofitting.  The most important underlying theme, however, was that green hospitality and sustainable tourism need to be a complete mindset.  If those working in the industry understand how being green can positively impact the cost of their own energy or water bill, they are more likely to make cost savings for the property. 

The hotel and tourism industry is set for continued growth across the region.  However, its long-term success is dependent upon the protection of the quality of the natural environment, and a commitment to economic and social integration.  It’s encouraging to see that awareness of these issues is increasing, and that the industry is recognizing the need for action. 

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Steve Fox is a Senior Architect for OBM International’s BVI office.  He is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited design professional and co-founder of the BVI Sustainable Living Network.


 
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT OBM OR TO INQUIRE ABOUT SERVICES,
PLEASE CONTACT:

Steve Fox, British Virgin Islands office
T  284 494 2148 / F  284 494 3898         sfox@obmi.com    www.obmi.com

For seven decades, OBM International has been the premier full-service design-consulting firm in Bermuda and the Caribbean.  Today, with nine multinational offices, projects throughout the world and a diverse team of experts, OBM is a global leader in luxury hotel/resort design development, architecture, master/town planning and interior design, with landmark projects in the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula.
OBM currently has design offices located in Antigua, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Madrid, Miami, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks & Caicos Islands, a strategic alliance in the Bahamas, and a business development office in Bath (UK).

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