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Apr 10, 2019

Aruba Leads the Eco-Way with Another Award – and Voluntourism Opportunities

Further underlining its world-leading role as an eco-tourism destination, Aruba has notched up another global award.

Along with the award, Aruba has and announced dates for visitors to get hands-on with environmental initiatives.

The Dutch Caribbean island’s popular adults-only resort, Bucuti & Tara Beach has been named the inaugural winner of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Climate Action Award as a result of achieving carbon neutrality.

The resort’s owner, Ewald Biemans, told 10 years ago that achieving carbon neutrality was impossible, collected the award at the WTTC Global Summit in Seville staged to celebrate inspirational, world-changing tourism initiatives from around the globe.

 

Meanwhile, tourists who like to get hands-on with environmental projects in their chosen destination can join Aruba’s annual Reef Care Project on September 9 or the renowned National Coastal Clean-up Day on October 1.

In his acceptance speech to the WTTC – which represents the global private sector of travel and tourism – Biemans vowed Bucuti’s ‘environmental journey has just started, and we will continue working towards a better world.’ 

Bucuti has received 45 awards since 2009 for excellence in recognition of its sustainability, romantic atmosphere, guest experience and eco certification.  The key focus on the WTTC award was Bucuti’s years of sustainability initiatives and its achievement in August of carbon neutrality.

Being told 10 years ago that becoming carbon neutral was impossible only made Biemans more determined to make it happen. He devoted himself to researching and implementing a series of initiatives to offer a better, healthier holiday experience to his guests. As the Caribbean’s most eco-certified and awarded resort, seven years ago, Bucuti embarked on the most intensive stretch of the carbon neutral/net zero process. By August 2018, the resort was the first in the Caribbean to achieve net zero certification. 

Back on the island, there are many opportunities for visitors to put something back into the life of Aruba.

The Aruba Reef Care Project is the best-known and largest volunteer environmental initiative on the island. Launched in 1994, it now attracts more than 1,000 participants who every September scour the beaches and dive and snorkel various sites in a massive clean-up effort.

Supported by public and private sector businesses, the Reef Care Project raises awareness of the importance of preserving the marine environment and volunteers gladly give up a few hours of their day to pick up any debris. Anyone interested in helping can contact Castro Perez by email on castroperez@gmail.com; Facebook – Reef Care Aruba

Similarly, an annual National Coastal Clean-Up Day is held every autumn, when Aruba’s beaches and coastline are filled with volunteers making a clean sweep.

Aruba’s shores have become a favourite nesting place for the endangered leatherback, hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtle. Fundashon Turtugaruba, established in 2003 and a member of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network, is the local foundation that protects them.

These turtles invariably return to their natal beach to lay their eggs, and Turtugaruba volunteers know where to patrol to spot, monitor, and protect turtle nests on the Island, primarily at Eagle Beach, Boca Grandi, and Arikok National Park.

Aruba’s environmental credentials were further underlined this year with the implementation of the island government’s decision to ban all single use plastic bags, plastic cups and straws, as well as Styrofoam boxes, such as disposable coolers.

The island’s Ministry of Environment has also said sunscreens containing oxybenzone will also be prohibited in Aruba. A transition phase started this year, with a full ban in place by 2020.

Coral reefs around the world, including along Aruba’s coastlines, are suffering from bleaching, with oxybenzone directly impacting corals’ defensive abilities.  Bleaching is typically brought on by unusually warm waters, but it is not necessarily a death sentence if the coral can regenerate.  Chemicals like oxybenzone damage the DNA of coral, preventing it from recovering and developing.