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CAST Launches 'positive Impact' Extensive New Environmental Program Portfolio

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Following an extensive restructuring exercise involving an overview of its operating systems, programs and services, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), environmental arm of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), is pleased to announce a new five-year Organizational Business Plan that seeks to return the organization to its core mission and mandate, with a focus on the development of quality services and programs.

Caribbean Hotel Association "CAST's new programs and services will center on the driving philosophy of creating 'Positive Impact!' by promoting environmental best practices and low impact tourism," explained CAST Chairman Royston Hopkin, CMG. "The first two components of 'Positive Impact!' will be the Hotel Environmental Leadership & Performance (HELP) and Friends of CAST.

As a first step, the former membership structure will be phased out to allow CAST to evolve into a full service organization by April 2004. "This means that former CAST members, hotels and other tourism establishments can access CAST services and products under a structured program that includes promotion and recognition of superior or improved environmental performance," elaborated newly-appointed CAST Director Deirdre Shurland. "Within this framework, CHA member hotels will have priority access to CAST services," she added.

HOTEL ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP & PERFORMANCE (HELP)

HELP is primarily a promotional service program that will laud the environmental best practices and performance achievements of participating hotels and tourism establishments. Properties will be required to progress through 3 levels - commitment, performance, and leadership - with demonstrable commitment to and proof of superior environmental performance within a maximum 2-year period. CAST will recognize achievements through targeted promotion and publicity at local, regional and international levels. During CHIC 2003, CAST will introduce HELP to a representative group of Caribbean hoteliers in a focus group session in order to use their feedback to determine program suitability and improve on design and delivery.

"Once the HELP program is implemented, it is envisaged that there will be a need for development of the requisite skills of hotel environmental staff to ensure the sustainability of program initiatives and vibrancy of green certification schemes," said Royston Hopkin CMG. "With this in mind, CAST will seek to develop and implement personnel certification programs for professional staff." This is expected to be unveiled in early 2004.

FRIENDS OF CAST

Through the Friends program, CAST will seek to diversify its traditional funding sources, targeting visitors and organizations committed to the environmental sustainability of Caribbean tourism.

In addition, a Positive Impact Fund will be introduced in late 2003. This Fund will involve a number of other contributory systems managed by CHA's Caribbean Hotel Foundation and allocated to specific environmental projects in various Caribbean countries. The national hotel associations that make up the CHA federation would be major beneficiaries, involved in the selection and management of in-country environmental projects funded under this the Fund.



For more information about CAST, contact Deirdre Shurland, at 1000 Ponce de León Ave., 5th Floor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00907 / T 787.725.9139, F 787.725.9108, E: dshurland@caribbeanhotels.org



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