tourism a recipe for success - Activist champions environmental
awareness Rosemary Parkinson, Gleaner Writer
Caribbean markets show the bounty of the islands. - photos
by Rosemary Parkinson
nothing left except a fiery accent and that determined stubbornness
that come with being Irish. Loretto Duffy-Mayers 'adopted'
Barbados in 1985 and is an ardent environmentalist. Through
the years, she has held the position of environmental manager
in three Barbadian Green Globe hotels and her voice has been
heard loud and clear during national and regional meetings
of the environmental committees on which she serves. The Caribbean
could have a monumental environmental problem before it. But,
perhaps it can be saved if we listen to people like Loretto.
moons ago, these abundant islands were plundered as colonial
dumping and extracting grounds for all that changes rich lands
and societies into a solid mess, dependent on the 'big guys'.
Governmental independence did not remove this dependence but
inherited the bad practices required for the 'almighty dollar'.
Tourism is one of these legacies that has done/is doing its
share of damage. It need not be so.
An organic farm in Dominica, with a river flowing right
people are the 'experts' able to repair this sad state of
affairs. But, many do not care. Our political leaders, now
beginning to extol the importance of 'environmentally friendly',
prove only that the wheels of government move far too slowly.
The deeply-imbedded, 'dirty' culture from 'outside' is creeping
into our societies. As I travel up and down the islands, I
feel a dull knife stabbing my back, the fear that we are losing
the battle. Not so, says Loretto, whose Irish history taught
her that the battle must produce blood before it is won.
notes, "Hotels in the Caribbean have to adopt environmental
standards in order to ensure the longevity of the tourism
product. An environment management system (EMS) is a tool
for managing the impact of an organisation's activities on
the environment. It provides a structured approach to planning
and implementing environment protection measures. An EMS integrates
environmental management into a company's daily operations,
long- term planning and other quality management systems.
Simple, once it is learned." Loretto heads the environmental
protection of Almond Casuarina Beach Hotel during its new
transition - the previous Casuarina Hotel being one of the
three she led into Green Globe certification. Within all the
agenda items required to successfully maintain an EMS is food.
Contractual arrangements between Almond Casuarina and organic
farmers are being put in place. When reopened next year, the
property should be a good model of an EMS hotel.
bammy from the indigenous cassava at Tijule in Jamaica
FOR THE FOOD
the late '90s there has been an increase in the publication
of Caribbean recipe books that have kept our foods in some
limelight. In May 2006, Bon Appétit devoted
an entire issued to Caribbean cuisine. With Food Network celebrity
chefs suddenly cooking "our foods" - the term 'soon
come' started to seem closer to "we deh" (i.e. we
get it now!) with many islands finally realising that Caribbean
cuisine is worth its weight in gold.
hotels/restaurants are making direct contracts with farmers
- Mocking Bird Hotel, Sandals in Jamaica and St. Lucia, Four
Seasons in Nevis, Hilton Tobago, Jungle Bay Dominica - the
latter country trying for Green Globe certification of the
word is spreading with people like Loretto fighting the fight.
Another strong voice is that of consultant chef, Robert Oliver
(New Zealand/Fiji/Trinidad and Tobago), who has done a tremendous
job joining the Almond group in St. Lucia and Barbados with
farmers. Little dents like these in our large food importation
bill from the north are better than none. Truth be known,
this journey for the Caribbean only requires the motto: "Let's
get back to our roots, as soon as possible" followed
by "Hurry up with Caricom Single Market and Economy."
in the bounty off the reefs.
BOUNTY THAT IS OURS
of the Caribbean island chain, whether volcanic or coral,
is blessed with rich soil. Cane that requires little or no
maintenance grows almost wild and readily gives us the best
sugar and rums in the world. Mountains, valleys, sides of
the road, even backyards, show off trees that droop with the
bounty of the 'exotic'. Breadfruit, guava, mango (hundreds
of species), lime, jackfruit, ackee, oranges, grapefruits,
star apples, guineps, pineapples, breadnuts, cherries. Spices
such as nutmeg, cinnamon, pimento, just to name a few. Bushes
flourish with Scotch Bonnet peppers; vines with sweet potato,
cassava and yam. Grasslands feel the presence of cattle, pigs,
chickens roaming freely. Rivers, reefs and seas teem with
fish and crustaceans. The road to environmentally friendly
and organic is already paved but, in dire need of pothole
the old traditions of understanding that harmony with nature
is our survival, we must ensure that our lands and waters
are kept free of destructive, non-degradable rubbish and pesticides.
We must learn to harness all that grows 'wild' (without getting
rid of 'wild') within organic farms that produce the good
stuff in a constructive way, that is; meeting demand rather
than just planting.
have to stop exporting the best to the north for we only receive
inferior in return. Owners of hotels and restaurants have
to see the mor-ality in understanding and honouring the ecosystem
and those who toil the land. Once these things are strictly
adhered to, there is no doubt that environmentally-friendly
tourism can provide a long future, rich in health and wealth,
for us island people.
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