Referring to the Caribbean Hotel Environmental Management Initiative (CHEMI), a large-scale project that has benefited more than 200 Eastern Caribbean hoteliers over the last two years, Berthia M. Parle, MBE, President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) commented, “This project is an example of the practical assistance needed by the small hotel sector to reduce their burdensome overhead costs.“Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by US-based contractor PA Consulting on behalf of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), the CHEMI project has come to a close, having fulfilled its objectives.
Through the CHEMI project, CAST provided tools, assessment, and technical guidance to hoteliers in Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines - in order to empower them to implement efficient environmental best practices within their hotel operations, and, for some of them, to assist them in pursuing Green Globe Benchmarking and Certification.
In addition to toolkits, training videos and other publications, the 200 participating hotels received Environmental Walk Throughs (EWT)—half-day assessments run by a trained professional that identifies simple low-cost and high payback actions that can positively impact the bottom line. “Utility costs for small properties tend to be extremely high, so CHEMI allowed us to reduce them,” added Parle, who is also General Manager of Bay Gardens in St Lucia, one of the participating properties.
Forty-one hotels further benefited from Small Hotel Environmental Assessments (SHEA), a 3-day assessment during which two consultants conduct detailed environmental management analysis of a hotel’s operations and facilities and recommend areas for improvements.
“A year after the original SHEA, we have succeeded to reduce the property’s electricity consumption by 9% and its water consumption by 22% per guest night,” said Robb Sommers, Environmental Manager at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica.
Equally content with CHEMI, Cheryl Carter, General Manager of the Trade Winds Hotel in Anguilla, commented that; “CHEMI’s assistance has allowed us to minimise tremendously the amount of garbage sent to the landfills, as well as help with our composting - we no longer buy top soil for our grounds!” She also pointed out that “It is important that, by improving our environmental best practices, we impress on our tourism partners and providers, and persuade them that it is essential they get more involved.”
Twenty-seven hotels received additional technical assistance and environmental management system training for preparing and applying to Green Globe 21 Benchmarking and Certification. “While most small hotels lack the financial and human resources to become Green Globe certified, CHEMI provides sufficient hand-holding to make a difference in their operations,” added Mrs. Parle. Currently, twenty-four hotels have recently been Green Globe Benchmarked and are on their way to receiving their assessments for certification.
Through CHEMI, CAST also received assistance with training and streamlining of twenty-two environmental technical consultants based in the Caribbean region. Consequently, their capacity is now improved to provide better technical services to the Caribbean hotel sector.
“I certainly commend CAST, USAID, and PA Consulting for this truly beneficial initiative. It is my wish that it could be continued with a further 200 small Caribbean hotels benefiting from this vital and successful program,” concluded Mrs. Parle.