ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN UP DAY
Saturday 11th September 2010
St John's: September11th - For immediate release
Antigua and Barbuda to Celebrate International Coastal Cleanup Day
As the destination approaches the off season, it gives hoteliers and other stakeholders an opportunity to focus on revamping and upgrading the tourism product. During the off season, the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) will hold round table discussions to review international trends and practices and identify strategies to ensure that the destination remains competitive.
On September 25, this year Antigua and Barbuda will join over 100 countries in celebrating International Coastal Cleanup Day, the world’s largest, one-day volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment. For the past 24 years, this annual event has grown exponentially and thousands of volunteers head to the beaches to remove debris and rubbish from shorelines, waterways and oceans.
US Director Derede Samuel-Whitlock applauds Antigua and Barbuda's involvement in this international volunteer effort, particularly with the recent passing of Tropical Storm Earl, which raised issues of pollution and disruption to the shorelines.
According to Whitlock, "On the issue of beaches, Antigua and Barbuda has a natural advantage as a tourism destination, and our beaches have always been a key selling point of our tourism product, which is the key driver of our economy."
However, the Director believes that the time has come for the destination to validate not just the beauty, but also the quality of its beaches.
Whitlock adds, "With 365 beaches and a tourism tagline of ‘The beach is just the beginning’ this clean up effort will go a long way in demonstrating the destination's commitment to beach quality. As we continue to promote our destination as one that offers some of the best beaches in the world, I am proud that Antigua and Barbuda will be celebrating International Coastal Cleanup Day as this will help the destination turn the tide on environmental awareness and responsibility. It will give us as a people an opportunity to deliver on the destination’s brand promise of offering great beaches and much more!”
In 1986 the American Centre for Marine Conservation held the first beach cleanup on the Texas coast with the aid of 2, 800 volunteers. Since then, the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) has included inland lakes, rivers, streams and underwater sites in the cleanup and approximately half a million people across the world have participated in the cleanup.
It is noted that he problem of marine debris does not necessarily start in the ocean, but is dumped further inland and washed down into the oceans. Statistics from the 1999 ICC showed that 59% of debris collected was from land sources.
Each year there is a vast increase in the number of marine animals injured or entangled in debris found in the oceans.
For example, turtles often mistake floating plastic bags as food and thousands of seals, whales, dolphins, sharks and birds die from entanglement in fishing lines and other debris.
Neil Forrester, General Manager of the AHTA is actively involved in the mobilization efforts and is pleased with the level of response that the initiative has already received from stakeholders and residents. Forrester commented “Together, we can address the problems of pollution that affect our coastline and preserve and protect our beaches as some of our greatest destination assets,” the General Manager noted. “This clean up activity will be convenient, easy, and fun.”
Several civic organizations including the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) as well as the Rotary club Antigua Sundown, the Antigua Hash House Harriers, AntiguaNice and hopefully many more will participate in this Costal Cleanup initiative.
A number of celebrities, who have visited the twin island destination in the past, have expressed interest in participating in this volunteer cleanup effort. Among the celebrities who have commiited are performer Kathy Sledge, lead singer of the group Sister Sledge. This award winning artist has made several visits to the destination and describes the beaches as "some of the best in the world."