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Pacific Islands score a try with low-carbon tourism
5:53 pm GMT+12, 14/10/2010, Fiji
As international focus turns to lower greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable energy, clean technology firm Greenlight Technology Group and Australia’s most capped rugby prop, Al Baxter, are helping Pacific Island nations reduce their carbon footprint.

Through its pilot program in Fiji, Greenlight Technology Group (GLTG) introduced solutions like retro-fitted, energy-saving valves on the scores of air conditioners in resorts; temperature controls on refrigerators to reduce food and energy wastage; and investment in gas power generation – reducing reliance on imported diesel to provide energy.

GLTG has aligned with the non-profit Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in the Pacific, focusing on sustainability in developing countries and emerging markets. Together they are working with industry in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, to bridge the gap between tourism, technology and sustainability – and position the region as a low-carbon holiday destination.

Based in North Ryde, NSW, Greenlight Technology Group (GLTG) specialises in strategic sustainability solutions. CEO Chris Andrew said, “The picturesque islands of the Pacific are extremely precious, so our work encourages people to leave a big footprint in the sand – and a small footprint in carbon.

“With a growing number of people aware of carbon emissions, low-carbon tourism is increasingly on the radar for travellers. In the Pacific, we found there was support from business for sustainable tourism, but a lack of tools to achieve it. We’re developing a market where sustainable solutions not only help the environment but boost the bottom line for businesses.

“The 2009 World Economic Forum report, Towards a Low Carbon Travel and Tourism Sector, noted tourism destinations that pro-actively work on sustainability initiatives will be better positioned than their competitors to survive, as international tourists grow more environmentally conscious in choosing their holiday destinations,” Mr Andrew said.

Fiji aims to meet the United Nations World Tourism Organisation target to reduce energy use by up to 20 per cent and increase renewable energy by 10 per cent in the hotel and resort sector.
Rugby great Al Baxter, also an architect who specialises in sustainable building, visited the region to talk to the Fiji-Australia Business Forum. He spoke about two passions of the Pacific – rugby and sustainability.

Mr Baxter said, “Greenlight Technology Group’s work is relevant to communities in their day-to-day lives. Practical solutions at the grass-roots level add up to significant carbon savings.

“Long-term running cost savings can be made through sustainable design and use of environmentally friendly materials, which generally make a building much nicer to live or work in,” he said.

Austrade’s Fiji-based Trade Commissioner, Dan Williams said, “Tourism is far and away the most significant export earner for Fiji. It is larger than the next eight industries combined. Through sustainability initiatives such as those being driven by Greenlight, operators can realise cost savings for their business, reduce Pacific Island fuel bills and gain a marketing advantage.

“Greenlight has succeeded in bringing together various interest groups, regional bodies, industry associations and the commercial tourism operators to focus on sustainability in tourism and how it can be achieved,” Mr Williams said.

“The Austrade office in Suva has been working with Greenlight over the last two years primarily providing briefings and advice on their strategy and who they could work with in the market. The tourism industry is now able to identify significant cost savings, they’re helping the environment and enhancing their brand through innovative marketing,” he said.

Greenlight Technology Group has also had interest from Tonga and Samoa about helping those countries become low-carbon economies.

SOURCE: TRAVELBOARD/PACNEWS

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