Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
MONTEGO BAY — Sandals Foundation is celebrating 10 years of goodwill in the Caribbean, and is now promising to double down on its efforts to protect the environment and bring together local communities over the next decade.
“Our goal has always been simple – to unite the Caribbean region, elevate its people and protect its delicate ecosystem – and I am so proud of how far we’ve come in our first decade,” said Adam Stewart, Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and President of the Sandals Foundation. “To build on our momentum and bring even more awareness to importance of supporting the Caribbean, we are tapping into the power of social media to launch a campaign to galvanize the world to join in our efforts.”
The hashtag #FaceTheCaribbean encourages guests across the 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts to help change the face of the Caribbean for generations to come, whether through donating towards a particular project, participating in the Pack for a Purpose program, purchasing items from Caribbean Artisan Collections available in the Sandals and Beaches Resort Shops, or through voluntourism excursions such as the Reading Road Trip.
Since its inception in 2009, the Sandals Foundation has worked with an extensive network of donors, volunteers, partners and social media activists to build schools, outfit computer labs and libraries, foster youth engagement through sports programs, manage marine protected areas, offer free medical, dental and eye care and much more.
It has worked with 578 schools across the region to promote literacy and technological advancements, as well as award scholarships to deserving students. It has partnered with CLEAR Caribbean to establish restoration programs inside Saint Lucia’s Soufriere Marine Management Area and trained local stakeholders to build, install and monitor two coral nurseries. And it has also launched the Women Helping Others Achieve (WHOA) program, an initiative aimed at positively impacting marginalized women across the Caribbean through vocational training, counseling, agricultural programs and more.
To date, the foundation has raised $11,182,955, impacting well over 850,000 people in the region, with the overall dollar amount of projects and programs implemented valued at over $58 million.
Moving forward, the Sandals Foundation will be placing special emphasis on the environment, with investments already made towards supporting marine conservation and environmental awareness. These include:
On the importance of preserving the environment, Heidi Clarke, Executive Director of the Sandals Foundation, said: “The Caribbean Sea connects more than 700 islands and coastlines, which is a source of livelihood for thousands of people. The role we all play in supporting protected areas and teaching the next generation the importance of caring for their precious environment is crucial now more than ever. The Sandals Group of companies and Sandals Foundation have intensified our efforts by reducing plastic pollution through our operations and in our communities as well as ensuring we engage all the key stakeholders in our efforts.”
Last year, in partnership with Oceanic Global, all 19 Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts eliminated the 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers used across the resorts each year, along with plastic laundry bags and plastic bags throughout gift shops. As of Feb. 1, 2019, all resorts have also eliminated Styrofoam.
Although the Sandals Foundation has made tremendous progress in the region, the work is far from over, it says. It is committed to engaging 100,000 people in environmental protection and conservation over the next 10 years, which involves working with schools to integrate marine education in their lesson plans, spearheading hands-on field trips to protected areas, and engaging residents in coastal communities on proper solid waste management programs.
In line with its mission to reduce waste, the foundation will also provide school children in the region with reusable lunch kits to reduce their dependence on Styrofoam.
And another pledge from the Sandals Foundation: to strengthen the resilience of coral reefs in the region by planting 30,000 coral fragments onto reef systems over the next 10 years. As part of this initiative, locals will receive training in coral restoration, and guests at Sandals and Beaches Resorts will be able to participate in coral planting dives.
For more information go to www.sandalsfoundation.org.