The Executive Director of Antigua Barbuda Hotels & Tourism Association is an expert on sustainable hospitality. Here she shares practical advice on how to go green
The twin-island Caribbean destination of Antigua and Barbuda is gaining attention for its green tourism initiatives. Part of Antigua’s west coast is now known by the moniker The Green Corridor following an agreement by this specific area’s businesses to adhere to a strict set of eco-friendly principles to make tourism – the nation’s main industry – sustainable in the long term. A leading voice on sustainability in hospitality, Patrice Simon is at the forefront of this movement. Connecting Travel met with her to ask about Antigua and Barbuda’s hospitality offering and how hoteliers can adopt best green practices.
You’re on the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association – what does that role entail?
I’m one of two representatives from Antigua and Barbuda. Not only do I represent Antigua, I also represent the Caribbean Society of Hotel Account Executives (CSHAE). This is a body comprising of my colleagues from across the region. The role is to share best practices and ideas in hospitality to help form a regional opinion on key matters.
How important is tourism to the destination?
Tourism contributes 65 to 70% of the nation’s GDP. This means that just about every household is impacted in some pay in every dollar earned by the sector. The sector ranges from Stayover visitors coming via air to Cruise and yachting.
What is the predominant hotel offering in Antigua and Barbuda?
The island offers a range of accommodation with most properties within our 40-hotel membership sitting in the four- and five-star category. All-inclusive accommodation is the dominant offering; however, many properties also offer room-only and half-board options.
Beach clean-ups are part of Antigua’s green drive
What measures are Antigua and Barbuda hotels taking to be more environmentally friendly?
Several hotels are currently pursuing operations that can be considered more sustainable. A few have been doing so independently and others have joined the Ministry of Tourism’s Green Tourism Initiative. This is a collaborative approach between all stakeholders. Some of the practical things that hotels have engaged in to reduce their impact on the environment include installing energy-efficient technologies, organising beach clean-ups and removing single-use plastics.
The destination is also looking at developing carbon-offsetting projects, which reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions or compensate for them
One project being considered would see travellers making a payment equivalent to their calculated carbon footprint, which would go towards the development of sustainability projects.
Another project under consideration focuses on waste handling and disposal. The recycling project has been proposed by Zero Waste Antigua Barbuda, an NGO which focuses on waste reduction. It’s called the Women Welding and Art Training Station (WWATS) and its purpose is to reuse metal waste products to create upcycled items that can be sold. This will divert some of the waste going to a landfill and train young women in the skill of welding.
What’s in the hotel pipeline for Antigua and Barbuda?
We are looking forward to welcoming Moon Gate, an exclusive 49-suite all-inclusive hotel & spa located at Half Moon Bay, one of the most stunning beaches in Antigua with captivating views of the bay, anticipated to open in late 2022/early 2023.
Patrice Simon shares Antigua and Barbuda’s strategy for making hotels more eco-friendly
- Instal energy-efficient technologies, such as energy-efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and energy-saving bulbs
- Do not provide straws or disposable cups and cutlery unless necessary. When provided, they should be biodegradable
- Train staff and educate customers on the hotel’s green policies
- Organise clean-ups of nearby areas such as beaches
- Use rainwater or greywater collection systems to repurpose wastewater for non-potable uses like flushing toilets and watering gardens
- Instal timed or smart irrigation devices, such as soil moisture sensors
- Buy local produce to support local organic farmers and reduce the distance that the goods must be transported
- Use reusable packaging for amenities, including shampoo and soap
- Purchase in bulk where possible to reduce transportation and waste from packaging
- Support local sustainability projects and encourage customers to visit protected areas where their fees will support the management of these sites