Cozumel’s Cruise Ships Go Eco
We were heartened to hear last week that Cozumel had signed a groundbreaking partnership to help support eco-friendly practices in the popular cruise ship destination. Over the past year, Conservation International has worked with Mexico’s tourism board, the city’s local government, and 17 cruise ship industry leaders to hammer out the details of an initiative that will promote sustainable practices in the region. IT Editor Janelle Nanos spoke with Seleni Matus, Conservation International’s advisor to the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative, just a few hours after she returned from Cozumel. Still a bit tired from her hectic week (and an overnight flight) she was kind enough to fill us in on what’s in store for the initiative.
What are some of the big issues that you’re looking to tackle with this initiative?
One issue in particular was to improve or enhance the awareness of cruise ship visitors about Cozumel’s natural heritage. We also recognized that [tour providers] themselves needed to work more diligently to promote the importance of protecting their natural assets.
What are some of the ways that you plan to do this?
We’ve developed a 30-second video that we’ve negotiated to have shown on all the major cruise lines destination channels. It’s a message from the Cozumel community to tourists showing the highlights of their natural heritage and inviting them to protect it by leaving a light footprint. It’s already being aired on Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity cruise lines. We also plan to create “passeos”–interpretive corridors that will serve as a passageway to the cruise terminal and airports. They’re transforming open areas into passageways containing targeted conservation messages and powerful images. And all tour operators decided to tackle waste management issues, working with municipal government to create onboard recycling programs for tour boats and marine sites. That extends to training the staff, installing the bins, and incorporating the [recycling] message into the message they give visitors. Now that they have started these small projects, they’re motivated to tackle the larger issues.
This is a big step for Mexico, as no initiative of its kind has ever been signed before now. Can you give us a sense of the feelings you saw down there?
I think at the event, when they saw the breadth of the work that they had all done…on a local level, they were all frozen. They could see people stunned and inspired at themselves when they took at step back and really understood what they had accomplished at the event itself. For the cruise industry in Cozumel, they feel they have broken down the barriers that have kept them working in their respective silos. The private sector and government tend to have very divergent views on what the problems are, it’s hard to find a common ground. It was pretty inspiring actually.
Read More: Check out IT’s coverage of Mexico, the Carribean, and Central America. Catch up on several recent posts which look at the cruise industry’s best and worst practices.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Photo: courtesy Conservation International