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CHA’s Parle calls for legislation to deal with unscrupulous operators

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Berthia Parle
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—
President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) Berthia Parle has called for the introduction of tough legislation to halt "unscrupulous operators" engaging in irresponsible hotel and tourism development in the region.

Addressing the 8th Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) on the theme "Sustainable Development: A Balancing Act" taking place in Puerto Rico, Parle pointed to the continuing disregard on the part of some developers for their corporate social and environmental responsibilities.

"For these misguided souls we need tough penalties incurred by enforced legislation," she told a gala awards dinner banquet Sunday attended by a gathering of regional and international journalists, tourism and private sector representatives.

 The San Juan conference follows 12 other regional media exchanges since October 2001 which have mingled regional and international media people with tourism experts and officials to share their respective knowledge and insights.

Parle, citing a number a woes facing the industry as a result of irresponsible development, said there was a need for rigorous assessment procedures and an emboldened public sector to protect the public interest.

 She said tools and practices such as impact assessments already in use through many regional planning agencies could enrich the planning process for the industry.

 However she noted that less than 3 percent of the tourism businesses in the region were certified and actively engaged in responsible operations. "There is clearly an opportunity here for more businesses to mainstream sustainability into their operations. It is the right thing to do," the CHA President stated.

 She said among some fine examples of model corporate stewardship were Casuarina Beach Club in Barbados, the Bucuti Beach Resort in Aruba, the Tiamo Resort in the Bahamas, the Sandals and Beaches Hotel properties and even the 3 Rivers Eco-Resort in Dominica and other small properties that have overcome the odds to become more sustainable.

 The CHA President called on the media practitioners to continue to highlight the good practices, and investigate and expose the bad.

 "By these actions we would raise the awareness of the issues.

Development cannot be taken at all costs and must be sustainable for us all, and the quality and integrity of the Caribbean brand remains paramount," she told the banquet.

She said that for any sustainable development policy to succeed regional policy makers must do away with double standards, such as there being one for the local and one for the foreigner.

 "If a practice is illegal it should be dealt with to send signals to  all defaulters and every developer must as part of his planning also play his part in improving the quality of life of his immediate community, " Parle said.