Sandals Resorts International’s CEO, Gebhard Rainer, has emphasised the complexity of developing sustainable infrastructure to mitigate climate change impacts on tourism, stating that it is impossible to pinpoint a single area for necessary changes.
He noted that climate change does not only affect the tourism sector, as each sector is dependent on the other for the success and survival of respective economies. Rainer added that many local industries rely heavily on the natural environment, which means environmental, social, and governance (ESG) conversations are important as the global community faces unprecedented levels of climate deterioration.
“Everything feeds into another industry. When we talk about agriculture, it is highly connected to water
management, to waste management, to transportation. It’s, of course, very connected to the hotel and
tourism industry, but also to the small and medium-sized businesses as well,” said Rainer.
He was speaking at the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum comprising panelists such as Minister of Tourism and Ports in the Cayman Islands Kenneth Vernon Bryan; and founder and CEO of CRDC Global, Donald Thompson. They addressed the topic ‘Critical Infrastructure Investments to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change on Caribbean Tourism’.
The SRI group CEO also pointed out that employment of responsible environmental practices impacts not only businesses, but also the communities that these sectors serve. He explained that it is important to educate private and public entities as well as the community on how they can be a part of the climate solution.
He further stressed the need for more platforms for public and private initiatives that will positively impact the environment and support longevity.
Rainer shared that Sandals’ resorts across the Caribbean have undertaken such initiatives, specifically the launch of the Future Goals Programme, where the Sandals Foundation partnered with a local Curacao-based plastic recycling entity to collect fishing nets abandoned at sea and plastic waste to build football goals for schools across the island.
The other panellists emphasised the need for regulatory improvement across the Caribbean, remarking that critical infrastructure investments fall in the hands of stakeholders from both the private and public
sector that continues to benefit from the region’s resources.