Businesses drawn from the tourism and hospitality sectors as well as other organizations and government representatives have picked up 'Do-It-Yourself' principles, concepts and best practices in environmental management that they can apply to better reduce their impact on the environment.The principles were introduced by Empretec of Mauritius - a capacity building NGO at a 2-day workshop organized by Nature Seychelles in collaboration with the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (STHA). Entitled “Adding value to your business through Environmental Management Systems (EMS)” it was held on 22 and 23 June 2010 at the Nature Seychelles headquarters at Roche Caiman. The workshop was launched by Director for Marketing at the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mr. Alain St. Ange.
Mr. St. Ange said that Seychelles is a destination that possessed beautiful natural resources and these assets are the foundation of the tourism industry. "The diversity and attributes we have attract people to the Seychelles. My appeal to everybody and to Nature Seychelles is to continue working together to protect them. Without these natural assets we will not have this pillar of the Seychelles economy."
Participants heard that environmental systems can result in substantial cost-cutting, help the environment and improve corporate image.
Recently there has been a joint effort by small and medium sized coastal hotels in Mauritius to identify and implement EMS best practices. "Those that have implemented these practices have benefitted from tangible cost savings." Mr. Irshad Bodheea of Empretec said. The regional programme RECOMAP has supported Empretec to deliver this project in Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Tanzania.
The practices cover water and energy saving, solid waste management, composting and alternatives to waste dumping, taking care of coastal environment and biodiversity, and integrating, managing and looking after natural and open spaces and landscaped areas.
EMS can be considered as first-steps towards gaining international certification such as ISO. "Since many small to medium enterprises have difficulties in putting in place systems for the ISO standard, this program can provide a pain free entry point into what could be the first critical phase for meeting the standard." Said Mr. Nirmal Shah Nature Seychelles Chief Executive who has experience with the ISO 14001 standard.
Those present said they found the programme and the accompanying implementation manual extremely useful. "I am convinced that I will be implementing the EMS best practices in my workplace - a small hotel near Victoria. I want to pass on to my colleagues and personnel whatever I have learnt. I congratulate Nature Seychelles for collaborating in this initiative." A participant said.
The hotel owners also heard that environmental management requires familiarity with applicable local laws, rules, regulations, requirements and policies governing protection of the environment, public health and safety.
Mr. Shah said that as 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity his organization felt that there was no better time to stress the need for nature-based businesses to take into account the impact they have on the environment. Nature Seychelles has a long running eco-tourism programme on Cousin Island that uses environmental best practices.