Is it enough to just be a tourist when you’re on vacation?
Of course you work tirelessly and finally you’ll be going on that hard won and much deserved break.
Should you be concerned with what’s being done to sustain the natural environment at the destination you’ll be visiting?
If that destination is Aruba, you’ll be impressed how seriously its stewards are taking the idea of sustainability in the Caribbean and protecting the fragile ecosystem. They are clearly leaders in the region, envisioning an island paradise protected in our lifetime and many decades to come.
As of March 2015, Aruba has been awarded the National Geographic World Legacy Award for “Destination Leadership”
–making tourism more sustainable
–keeping the island environmentally friendly for local populations
Destination Leadership is defined as – Travel destinations that are exhibiting and excelling by instituting programs to assist the local environment, preserving the natural and cultural identity of the locale, making sure the domestic communities protected by these programs and allowing visitors to participate in local activities to enhance and educate increasing the understanding of the need for sustainability.
WINNER: Aruba, Caribbean
What does this actually mean?…Aruba’s government has added wind farms on the island utilizing those friendly tradewinds to their advantage.
The Queen Beatrix Airport has added a solar park to it’s property providing energy for up to 1500 homes. This is the largest solar park in all of the Caribbean with over 14,000 panels. Also a waste-to-energy plant has been implemented which turns rubbish into power.
Much of the groundwork for today’s success was laid in 2012 when Virgin CEO, Richard Branson & the government of Aruba in the partnership with the Carbon War Room (CWR) created an initiative to move the island to a state of 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Some of the latest steps taken to reach this goal are seen in the new Trolley System introduced to Oranjestad in 2014. Powered by the world’s first public hydrogen fuel cell system and even more impressive it’s free and fast arriving every 12 minutes.
As far as how this can trickle down and enlighten travelers to the island, many of the hotels have made it a strategy to reduce the impact of tourism.
The Amsterdam Manor and the Bucuti Beach Resorts are the first
hotels to receive the Green Globe Initiative Award. They have made it a policy at their resorts to use fewer plastic products, natural cleaning solutions, re-use and recycle. More of the international high-rise hotels on the island are getting on board and as of this writing the Hyatt Regency Aruba has joined this team.
Government and businesses on the island are on the same wavelength but how can even a single tourist join the campaign to preserve the environment of Aruba?
It has been suggested that low-impact activities may help. Horseback-riding, bicycling and hiking are the least intrusive to the land. Also maintaining a respect for wildlife & marine life on the island will reduce any disturbance to the natural balance.
Voluntourism in Aruba
How can you get involved?
1) Aruba Reef Care Project – Every July volunteers snorkel & dive to bag garbage and clean the coral reefs.
2) Sponsor-A-Mile: Eagle Beach – adopt a mile while on vacation and keep it clean during your stay.
3) Salba Nos Buriconan – help save the wild donkeys on the island.
4) Dive for Earth Week – Volunteers team up to keep shoreline clean
So let’s keep the beaches of Aruba clean for ourselves and for many future generations to come and let’s not “Blow out our flip-flop by stepping on a pop top!”