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Former U.S. President Barack Obama keynotes, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort’s CEO presents.
Today in Seville, Spain, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) announced Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort of Aruba, as the winner of the Climate Action Award at the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards ceremony. The Awards, now in their 15th year, took place at a special ceremony during the WTTC Global Summit, to celebrate inspirational, world-changing tourism initiatives from around the globe.
WTTC represents the global private sector of Travel & Tourism. Its Global Summit is the most important event in the sector worldwide each year. The annual gathering includes heads-of-state, CEOs across industries and hospitality and tourism professionals. This year’s keynote speaker was former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Winner of first-ever Tourism for Tomorrow Climate Action Award
Bucuti & Tara is the winner of the first-ever Climate Action Award. Resort owner and CEO Ewald Biemans addressed the Summit’s prestigious crowd of influential global government leaders and executives. While a key focus on this award was Bucuti’s years of sustainability initiatives and August 2018 achievement of carbon neutrality/net zero, Biemans vowed in his acceptance speech that Bucuti’s “environmental journey just started, and we will continue working towards a better world.”
Biemans presented “The Path to Carbon Neutrality/Net Zero” at the Tourism for Tomorrow day on April 2 as part of the WTTC Global Summit. The materials shared the vision, initiatives and outcomes of achieving net zero. With easy to replicate, proven actions, Bucuti is focused on showing others and encouraging them to do the same. Biemans emphasized, “there is no excuse for hotels not to work towards carbon neutrality/net zero in this day and age.”
Told becoming carbon neutral/net zero was impossible
Ten years ago, Biemans was told becoming carbon neutral/net zero was impossible. This only made Biemans more determined to make it happen. He devoted himself to researching and implementing a plan of initiatives to offer a better, healthier vacation experience to his guests. As the Caribbean’s most eco-certified and awarded resort, seven years ago, Bucuti embarked 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.
“It has been a journey and one that continues as we work together to combat climate change and promote health and wellbeing of all living things,” says Ewald Biemans. “I have tremendous appreciation for our Green Team and the work we have done together since opening Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort.”
Although guests enjoying the adults-only resort’s laidback, luxury hospitality on the white sands of Eagle Beach may not realize it, this is the Caribbean’s only certified carbon neutral/net zero resort. For more than 30 years, its environmentalist owner, Ewald Biemans, has worked towards proving that sustainability, guest satisfaction and profitability can go together.
While the resort has always been green-minded, the journey towards carbon neutrality/net zero began just seven years ago. Rather than rely on carbon offsets, Bucuti & Tara’s Green Team took a meticulous approach towards reducing emissions operationally. Since 2016, the resort’s 618 photovoltaic solar panels combined with local wind and solar sources, produces 40 percent of its energy needs. Other efforts include installing an in-room energy management system, low-flow shower heads and toilets, and using an ozone-based laundry system.
What it means to be a WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner
The 2019 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winners are highly commended and recognized for business practices of the highest standards that balance the needs of ‘people, planet and profits’ within the Travel & Tourism sector. The 2019 Winners promote inclusive growth and illustrate a strong commitment to supporting change and transformation in business practices and consumer behavior towards a more environmentally conscious sector.
The Climate Action Award seeks to recognize innovative actions through either behavior change of guests and employees, policy changes or the introduction of technology, to reduce the scale and impacts of climate change.
The Awards are judged by a panel of independent experts, led by Prof. Graham Miller, Executive Dean, Professor of Sustainability in Business, University of Surrey. The panel included academics, business leaders, NGO and governmental representatives who narrowed down the list of 183 applications to just fifteen finalists. The three-stage judging process included a thorough review of all applications, followed by on-site evaluations of the Finalists and their initiative.
The Winner of each category was determined by the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2019 Winners’ Selection Committee, chaired by Fiona Jeffery OBE, Founder & Chairman, Just a Drop, and composed of Wolfgang M. Neumann, Non-Executive Director and Strategic Advisory, Global Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Sector; John Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Louise Twining-Ward, Senior Private Sector Specialist, Global Tourism Team, World Bank.
Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC, commented: “The finalists in this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards showcase the many ways in which our industry is dedicated to sustainable growth. In 2018, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 10.4% of global GDP and supported 319 million jobs across the world. It is therefore essential that we continue to grow in the most sustainable and responsible way possible. The new award categories for this year are aligned with WTTC strategic priorities and illustrate that all members of this industry play a key role in driving the sector forward to a more responsible future. I congratulate them all on their fantastic accomplishments and leadership.”
Fiona Jeffery, OBE, Chair, WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, said: “The aim of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is to showcase some of the most exceptional examples of sustainable tourism practices in the world, and inspire and encourage our industry to make a positive impact for both current and future generations. Over 15 years, we have seen the industry make great strides towards achieving these goals and we can see positive change happening. Our recent survey results show that 67% of travellers would consider a travel company’s sustainability agenda when booking a trip, whilst 48% of travellers would now pay more money to travel sustainably. Whilst there is still more to be done, we must harness the momentum for change to protect the product that sustains our very own industry.”
Jeff Rutledge, President and CEO, AIG Travel, Headline Sponsor of the Awards, stated: “From socially-inclusive employment initiatives to establishing one of the first rewilding projects in the Philippines, this year’s WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards finalists have proved to be an incredibly diverse group of changemakers from around the world. They have demonstrated that, regardless of the size or purpose of business, all members of the Travel & Tourism industry can afford to make sustainability a priority, and become part of our collective journey towards a greener future.”