A prestigious international symbol of environmental management and safety standards will be displayed in the Caribbean for the first time beginning in November. The Blue Flag International Jury has approved the launch of the first official Blue Flag Campaign season in the Caribbean at nine beaches and three marinas. The Blue Flag campaign is a voluntary certification scheme for beaches and marinas that adhere to key criteria for water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety and services.Ê“This approval by the international jury is a vote of confidence in the Caribbean’s outstanding ability to adopt a highly effective European certification programme and adapt it to suit our conditions,” said Karen Ford-Warner, secretary general (Ag) of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). CTO is an integral and active member of the Caribbean Blue Flag Consortium established in September 2002 to oversee the implementation of the programme in the Caribbean. The other members of the consortium are the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) and the Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA).
“Beaches and marinas are key assets of the Caribbean tourism product and the region’s involvement in the Blue Flag programme is one of the many avenues that we pursue in our relentless drive at product development,” Mrs. Ford-Warner added.
The Blue Flag International Jury approved the applications for Blue Flag certification from two marinas in The Bahamas - Old Bahama Bay and Port Lucaya Marina in Grand Bahama; one beach in the Dominican Republic - La Laguna (Dominicus) Beach in Bayahibe; four beaches and one marina in Jamaica - Doctor’s Cave Bathing Club in Montego Bay, Merrils Resort Beach and Norman Manley Sea Park in Negril, and the Port Antonio Marina and Beach and four beaches in Puerto Rico - El Escambrón and Carolina in the San Juan area, Monserrate in Luquillo and Flamenco Beach in Culebra Island.
“Blue Flag certification means that not only will beach users will benefit fromÊ high environmental and quality standards, but the countries stand to gain significantly from the positive attention that certification will bring in the marketplace, particularly in Europe where Blue Flag has become a well known and recognised symbol for tourists and tour operators,” added Mercedes Silva, CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist and a spokesperson for the consortium.
The inaugural season of the Blue Flag Campaign in the Caribbean is scheduled to begin in November 2004 and to run until October 2005. However, due to the damage caused by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne to the proposed Blue Flag marinas in Grand Bahama, the inauguration of the season in this country would be postponed until the marinas are fully recovered and open to Blue Flag standards.