Eco Labelling Initiative In Mauritius To Reduce The Negative Impact Of Tourism On The Environment
Mauritius is an island nation situated to the east of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa, and is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs which have become the main tourism destination of the country. Thus, the tourism has been one of the driving forces of the nation economic growth. The tourism sector has a close connection with the environment and climate that affect the tourist comfort and their travel decision which may also impact on tourism business as well as host communities. Hence, it is significant for all tourism stakeholders to “Act now, Act together, Act differently”.
The project of Maurice Ile Durable, announced in the Mauritius Government Programme 2012-15, in collaboration with all stakeholders, introduced Eco Labelling for the tourism to reduce the negative impact of tourism activities on the environment. Eco Labelling is an environmental performance certification and labelling that identifies overall, proven environmental emission, energy use, transport, and consumption of materials. Moreover, Eco Labelling is also beneficial to business such as competitive advantage, improved standing with staff, business partners, clients and wider stakeholders, increased business efficiency, compliance with environmental law and regulations, minimisation of waste, maximisations of efficient use of resources, improved environmental performances, etc. This program respects the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, is efficient use of energy and water as well as the waste management, wise use of short supply and non-renewable resources, and is greater material recyclability. In the same line with the program policy, the standard for sustainable tourism in Mauritius called MS165:2014 is developed. This is the specific requirements that tourism operators should seek to achieve to obtain eco-label. The requirements are well ordered around four main themes.
First, Sustainable Management that requires elaboration of a sustainability plan, acquiring necessary competence and training of staff, continuous monitoring and evaluation of implementation of the standard and customer satisfaction, etc. Second, Social and economic benefits to the community that require the operators to have the equal employment opportunities, being active in supporting local community initiatives, and promote local entrepreneurship and sale of eco-friendly product. Third, Cultural heritage values that the operators have to use elements of local art and architecture, must contribute to the protection of local historical sites, and minimise visitor impact at culturally or historically sensitive sites.
Lastly, Environmental respect which require the operators to participate in resource conversation including energy and water, green purchasing – supply chain management, reducing pollution, carbon footprint, wastewater and solid waste managements, conserving biodiversity, ecosystem and landscapes, as well as minimising hazardous substances.
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