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The Case for Green Tourism

2010 June 17

Recently I participated in a green business conference focused on pollution prevention for the manufacturing and hospitality industries in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This was a joint effort between EPA, the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Management Authority, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

Puerto Rico attracts 2.5 million tourists every year. While Puerto Rico is known for its balmy weather, diverse eco-systems, and a rich cultural history, it has another unique characteristic: it also uses the most electricity per person of anywhere in the world. Greenhouse gas emissions in Puerto Rico are 230% more than the world average and water consumption is 1,089,000,00 gallons per year. Tourism operations in Puerto Rico contribute to high electricity and water consumption and waste generation patterns.

While there are more than 450 “green” certifications for hotels, all programs are strictly voluntary. So, how do you develop a truly sustainable facility in the midst of an economic crisis to attract green tourists? In this conference, several hotel owners shared best practices. I found one of the inns located in the southeastern part of the Island to have many noteworthy green features. The inn has a recycling program, solar water heater for the pool and rooms, composting area and water recycling just to name a few of the efforts. Guests are invited to bring their own beach towels since the hotel provides none in an effort to save water. The inn has received the highest green award by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company for the past two years in a row. Larger hotels like the Caribe Hilton, where the two day seminar was held, have also incorporated energy and water conservation efforts into their daily operations. Furthermore, they have gradually been incorporating more energy efficient appliances and air conditioning systems. These changes have yielded savings to the landmark San Juan hotel and contributed to a reduction of the hotel’s carbon footprint.

There are many shades of green travel. As tourists make greener demands of the hospitality industry, hoteliers will learn to reinvent themselves in order to comply.

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 17, 2010

    I am sympathy and cries for Africa. There aren’t “green” but suffering, especially to the people who don’t know that what should they do. Now I understand in this planet are contain of the people that “The Haves” and “The Have-not”. Is this the area of Environmental concerned Responsibility ?

  2. Sula permalink
    June 17, 2010

    how do i find cites for all of these?

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    June 20, 2010

    It sounds like the conference in Puerto Rico achieved a number of the goals it had. The point about the hotels is an important one. Hotels provide a good platform for water and energy conservation. Another aspect that needs to be looked at is the cruise ship industry and its contribution to pollution in the Puerto Rican environment. Best wishes, Michael e. Bailey.

  4. Rachel Smith permalink
    July 23, 2010

    Hello, I am from the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), one of the sponsors of this conference. I just wanted to let people know that they can find out more about the conference, by visiting our website at:

    The conference, “Expanding Business Value Through Pollution Prevention & Sustainable Practices,” focused on P2 opportunities and sustainability for both the hospitality and manufacturing industries in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

    The full conference agenda, with links to the individual presentations is located at:

    Thank you,
    Rachel Smith

  5. Matildo Maratas permalink
    September 4, 2010

    wow great work guys

  6. Kevin Megan permalink
    September 20, 2010

    I hope that other nations would do the same so that global warming effect will be lessen

  7. Air Conditioning permalink
    March 17, 2012

    Interesting article and one which should be more widely known about in my view. Your level of detail is good and the clarity of writing is excellent.

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