he attractions and tour operations at CocoCay, a private cruise destination managed by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., have been awarded the Sustainable Tourism Education Program™ (STEP) Gold-Level Eco-Certification for its attractions and tour operations.
This certification is a flagship program of Sustainable Travel International, a leading nonprofit that helps destinations, businesses, and travelers implement innovative solutions that support sustainable tourism development. A gold standard in sustainable business management, STEP is among the first global standards to be formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and CocoCay is the first operation of its kind to receive the certification.
All on-island tours and island operations, including workplace practices, guest communications, and environmental management policies were assessed by a third-party independent of Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean demonstrated an ability to successfully apply its outstanding on-board sustainability initiatives to its shore excursion operations.
“We are very proud of our CocoCay team and the incredible work they do every day. It is through their dedication to sustainability initiatives that CocoCay has been awarded this prestigious certification that further emphasizes our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Rich Pruitt, Associate Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “By working with organizations such as Sustainable Travel International, Royal Caribbean continues to focus on providing an incredible vacation experience both onboard its ships and its private destinations like CocoCay.”
Highlights of the assessment include:
• Royal Caribbean performed extremely well on all policy and documentation criteria.
• The CocoCay team performed “above and beyond” in areas of guest communications, guest education, group-size policy and visitor code of conduct.
• All on-island vendors sell locally sourced and produced products from the Bahamas, such as artwork and locally-made crafts.
“Royal Caribbean developed a very thorough, attainable action plan, designed to implement higher levels of sustainability over time,” said Robert Chappell, Sustainable Travel International's Senior Director of Standards and Certification. “I’m excited to see them expand their action plan while developing innovative new solutions that are leading the way in the cruise industry.”
Royal Caribbean established a partnership with Sustainable Travel International in 2008, to further develop its Environmental Stewardship Strategy, with a focus on responsible tourism, education and destination stewardship. With support from Royal Caribbean, Sustainable Travel International operates the STEP: Sustainable Shore Excursions program. This program was developed specifically for tour operators, attractions, and other providers serving the cruise industry, and features a set of educational tools, including the STEP Eco-Certification Standard.
The STEP program helps shore excursion operators manage a wide array of sustainability efforts, while protecting the environment and maintaining the high standard expected of them by the market. The program also provides a consistent assessment framework for cruise lines, helping to ensure the shore excursions they offer to customers are operating sustainably.