By K Denaye Hinds
ENSURING THE LONGEVITY of Caribbean resorts and the surrounding communities in which they operate goes hand in hand.
The unique advantage of island tourism is the potential direct and indirect impact that can be realized throughout the townships and parishes of the Caribbean.
No longer does managing a tourism business only comprise the fundamentals of the operations and service, however.
While quality is the top priority, it is the responsibility of travel and tourism industry participants to recognize the needs and abilities of Caribbean communities to support, supply, advance, co-exist and provide the experiential travel that the new-age traveler seeks.
Today, world travelers seek to add meaning to their vacation; a lasting experience with memories of connections in a unique destination.
This connection and partnership is created through corporate social responsibility (CSR) and is sustained through the various projects, outreach and partnerships between tourism businesses and their communities.
What does CSR mean within our region and how does it benefit the Caribbean travel and tourism sector?
There are a number of ways:
- Ensuring the well being and fair working conditions of organizations and creating capacity building opportunities within their workforce structures. This allows for a sustainable working environment and builds accountability.
- Working in tandem with local communities to ensure future generations’ access to literacy and tools required for them to excel in the industry.
- Leading a work-release program or internship for aspiring chefs to cultivate the next culinary experience of our islands.
- Supporting local conservation programmes to preserve the native flora and fauna.
- Developing a workshop for local handicraftsmen and assisting with authentication of their product for sale in resort boutiques.
- Transforming existing structures into training school and residential complexes.
- Partnering with local farmers to begin a compost program to fertilize their crops and sell back to resorts, providing a “farm to table” experience for guests.
All of these are examples of socially responsible connections which can be made by the Caribbean tourism industry to ensure longevity and diversity within the sector.
Several Caribbean resorts are already engaging in these kinds of practices: The Tryall Club, Hanover, Jamaica provide CSR opportunities for staff, guests and villa owners to visit the local Basic School and encourage guests to donate books and school supplies while on their vacation. Guests and villa owners also spend time reading to the children and taking part in their activities.
Another, the Rockhouse Resort in Negril, has its Rockhouse Foundation, which supports the expanding and renovation of under-resourced schools throughout rural Jamaica. It also runs an annual environmental challenge as well for the schools, allowing students to participate and win prizes for their knowledge in environmental awareness.
Benefiting guest experiences while benefiting the advancement of Caribbean communities should be the focus of the Caribbean tourism industry as we seek to ensure a vibrant and secure tourism sector throughout the region — because tourism is everyone’s business.
K Denaye Hinds, the Director of Sustainability for OBM International, writes the Sustainable Caribbean column for Caribbean Journal. A Bermudian with years of experience in the field of engineering and sustainability throughout the islands, she is a LEED AP.
Follow Denaye on Twitter @MissGreengineer or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org