Lucy Fleming, who with her husband Mick opened Belize’s first eco-resort with a few simple cabanas at their family farm at Chaa Creek, said receiving confirmation of this year’s Green Globe re-certification while traveling to Berlin to accept first prize honors for their category in National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards brought home the impact that sustainable tourism is having on the global travel industry and the environment and people who support it.
“When we first began farming in Belize we quickly fell in love with its natural beauty and were overwhelmed by the kindness and support we received from our neighbours and the local community. So when we began taking guests to become one of Belize’s first eco-resortsback in 1981, it was only natural to feel a responsibility towards protecting the environment and giving something back to the community.
“Green Globe has been invaluable in helping us formalise practices and help ensure that, as we developed, we did so in a environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. And now, years later we, our 160 staff members, the local communities and our guests are all seeing the fruits of that development.
“We also recently opened our Ix Chel Luxury Villas, which we hope will become a model to prove that luxury and impeccable service can go hand in hand with Green operations, and that sustainable, responsible practices can attract visitors and actually improve a businesses’ bottom line.
“Our guests respond positively to the fact that ten per cent of their room revenue goes directly towards environmental and community programs, and enjoy participating in initiatives like “Pack-a-Pound” where a pound or more of school supplies in their luggage or posted after they return home goes a long way in assisting disadvantaged young Belizean students. Guestsalso enjoy true farm-to-table dining and visiting our traditional Maya organic farm, and they like hearing of our Eco-Kids free summer environmental education summer camp and other projects.
“The point is that sustainable tourism is much more than just a catchphrase – tourism can and should be sustainable, and our experience shows that supporting responsible travel benefits everyone.
“So yes, receiving a prestigious honour, international recognition and Green Globe re-certification are all wonderful in their own right, but more importantly, they show that the global tourism industry, and the travellers who support it, have become more environmentally and socially aware and responsible, and that bodes very well for the future of our industry, the planet, and the people who inhabit it,” Lucy said.