St. Maarten’s National Operator, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), held its annual Blue Flag award ceremony in December 2015. Both Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Yacht Club Isle de Sol, the event host, received the award for the fifth time, demonstrating a long-term commitment in their role as leaders in sustainable tourism.
Mr. Ricardo Perez, Executive Board Member of the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), spoke of his organisation’s continued commitment to supporting responsible tourism and its value in strengthening the island’s economy over the long-term. Minister Ingrid Arrindell of the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs then awarded the Blue Flag to the recipients, congratulating them on this significant achievement. Minister Arrindell also expressed her concern for protecting our coastal areas, described as St. Maarten’s environmental and economic treasure.
Some of the accomplishments outlined by the recipients included their educational programmes, such as Isle de Sol’s mangrove planting and trash cleanup or Divi’s Bird Walk and kid’s Easter Egg snorkel. Divi has also installed an extensive solar panel system to reduce their carbon footprint while Isle de Sol has expanded their recycling programme.
EPIC President, Natalia Collier, noted “The Blue Flag programme is successful thanks to the efforts of our many partners, including the awarded sites, the Tourist Bureau, the SHTA, and the American University of the Caribbean which contributes water quality analysis.”