Cook Islands Hotels Take Environment Audit Challenge
Two major resorts and a wholesale travel company in the Cook Islands are undergoing the first-ever environmental audit for tourism operators in the country by Green Globe.
Pacific Resort Rarotonga and its sister-hotel in Aitutaki along with Turama Pacific or Island Hopper Vacations have committed themselves to the process of benchmarking.
Green Globe is the worldwide benchmarking and certification system for the travel and tourism industry across the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental management.
Pacific Resort group chief executive Greg Stanaway said they opted for Green Globe because of its credible scientific base and its reputation in Australia and New Zealand.
Stanaway said that the strong brand will also be important in their marketing exercise given that Western European guests in particular are looking to stay in resorts that have environmental integrity.
"I am not aware yet of other operators who would like to initiate this program but I feel confident that when the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation scheme is revamped over the next few months that environmental and sustainability aspects of that process will be further enhanced," Stanaway said.
The Green Globe program is broken down into two stages — benchmarking and certification. The time taken to achieve each of those levels depends upon how far advanced the business is from a sustainability perspective and what systems they already have in place. Benchmarking can take between two and six months if a concerted effort is made by the organization.
Green Globe's John Delaney, who met with tourism operators in Rarotonga, said that there is a real desire amongst Cook Island operators to take the lead in addressing sustainability needs.
“They were aware that their customers were arriving with a sense of expectation around sustainability and they needed to show leadership as an industry to meet those expectations,” he said.
Delaney said that at the meeting the operators were interested in how Green Globe could help their business to address the sustainability challenges they face and to improve their operations.
"I always say that the key reasons for choosing Green Globe are that it is a globally recognized program — we have members in over 60 countries — it is independent, it is scientifically robust and therefore credible and, most importantly, it works," Delaney said.
"Green Globe is a powerful tool that can lead to increased operational efficiencies and therefore savings as well as being a strong brand that operators can take to the market once they have been benchmarked or certified."