What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.
Growing up in developing and then later in first world countries and seen the disparities between the two as well as the negative impacts of so called “development” has motivated us and influenced us a great deal. We have seen how communities were without water while the water available was directed to the large luxury resorts. As an Indian, I have followed the success of the “Chipko” movement years ago, when women strapped themselves to the trees to prevent them being felled since they recognised the interdependence of their livelihoods and wellbeing with preserving the forests. Another example which was pivotal has been the “development” of various large dams and the Narmada Dam in India in particular which have lead to large areas being submerged and vast numbers of people being displaced and loosing their homes – and of course the gradual but noticeable global changes in weather patterns. We also lived in Germany for a long time and were very active in the “Green” movement in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We actively separated our waste, discarded unnecessary packaging at the supermarket counters, joined a group of friends who would collectively buy local seasonal food from the farmer and take it in turns to drive out there and pick it up for the group. Since living in Jamaica, we have experienced increasingly erratic weather patterns and the increase of hurricanes - and the resulting devastation wrecked by the forces of nature. We are troubled by the the challenges we face with regards to the biodiversity of flora and fauna due to heavy deforestation.
People living in abject poverty usually do not have the luxury to care about natural resources, as they worry instead about their next meal and obtaining their most basic needs. In the worst cases, their destitution leads to destruction of their environment. At the same time, however, our ability to create wealth and the economic resources that might enable those people to escape poverty will require that we use our natural resources as wisely as possible. Hence we have the doubly challenging task of making prudent use of land, air, water, forests and oceans while trying to meet the demands of an increasing number of impoverished people. We recognise the critical role that tourism can play in addressing these demands and set out to therefore operate our business along sustainable guidelines and demonstrate that even small business can make a positive contribution.
We recognise that we cannot change the world but we can try to give as much possible and help be a force for positive change in the smaller framework of our community – and especially in a country that depends so heavily on tourism as its main source of income as happens to be the case in Jamaica.
Finally, we believe that the focusing on profits as the sole purpose of business leaves a core part of ourselves empty, our souls. Is life only about earning money? Can we take it with us? What is the purpose of life? What do we leave behind that is lasting but the memory of our positive contribution? By taking a holistic approach we were able to give a soul to our business.
Last but not least, we are aware that a number of developing countries suffer from “brain drain” and although there is plenty of positive work that can be done in every country, we decided to “return “ to one of our home countries – in this case Jamaica which is Barbara’s home. As a result we started toying with the idea of developing an intimate inn / boutique hotel along sustainable guidelines and started by touring the country to select our location. We therefore consciously sought out Port Antonio, the least developed tourist region of Jamaica and set out from the start to plan and develop our business along responsible and sustainable principles. In doing so we sought to identify actions, resources and partners necessary to encourage the provision of products and services, which enhance rather than destroy the environment and culture..
I also attended a course on sustainable tourism in Germany .
Despite all the challenges, we get a sense of satisfaction of being able to give people an opportunity and our networking with various community projects that makes the hard work worthwhile because we feel we are working in keeping with our beliefs and in addition to the financial considerations of the business, there is so much more that helps to give value to our work.
Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.
Born and educated in India. Went to Europe after studying hotel management there. Worked 18 years in Germany and attended the Heidelberg Hotel School. Attended the first course for sustainable Tourism organised by the EU. Came to Jamaica on my internship and co-authored a handbook for the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association on best practices. Opened our business, Hotel Mocking Bird Hill in 1993. We have been actively involved with the local ENGO and other organisations such as the local AIDS group as well as collaborating to establish a sustainable tourism network. We successfully applied for and managed funds in order to develop a Destination Marketing Programme with an environmental focus and conducted trainings ourselves. We were the local facilitators for a USAID sponsored programme to get the destination benchmarked as a first step to towards destination certification and continue supporting various projects and working with community groups.
Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.
To provide high quality experiences, offer accommodations with simple elegance while ensuring we operate in a responsible, environmentally sound manner without sacrificing on guest comfort.
To expand the role of our business beyond that of merely a hotel by contributing to our community and to promote the development of tourism which capitalizes on the natural, cultural and historic heritage of the area by providing in-depth information to educate guests so that they can learn, appreciate, enjoy and better understand their host communities and the natural environment.
To work with other stakeholders to develop and promote community based tourism so that it contributes to make the overall industry more sustainable by increasing economic benefits for host communities and by increasing awareness of visitors to the diversity and wide range of natural experiences, culinary offerings and cultural heritage, while enhancing the quality of the tourism experience
To develop an “inclusive” tourism by involving a wide range of stakeholders in an integrated tourism development approach recommending and offering locally owned and operated small enterprises and ensuring that our type and scale of tourism is appropriate to local conditions and operates within the limits set by local infrastructure and carrying capacity.