St. Maarten Airport supports Blue Flag program with garbage bins

POSTED: 04/25/12 3:35 PM

St. Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport continues its campaign to keep the island clean. In its most recent initiative the airport, the Blue Flag Business for the month of April, placed 46 garbage bins with the Blue Flag logo in the Festival Village. The airport is encouraging Carnival revelers to use the bins and avoid littering, said Kalifa Hickinson, the airport’s manager of the Marketing and Communications.

Rueben Thompson, Project Manager of Love the Lagoon and Environmental Protection In the Caribbean (Epic), commended the airport’s initiative.

“Placing garbage bins at the Carnival Village is an initiative we commend. Foundations encourage the permanent placement of bins at all our beaches and are working with the Tourist Bureau to make this a reality. We also encourage government to find solutions to the island’s severe waste management challenges,” Thompson said, adding that the airport “has surpassed our expectations” as a Blue Flag program sponsor of the month.

“We expect the airport to continue to support the environmental organizations and work toward the protection of St. Maarten’s natural heritage.”

To bring awareness among its staff the airport hosted three days of information sessions with Nature Foundation and Epic last week.

“Management and staff were informed about Epic’s programs, Nature Foundation’s activities and Epic’s Blue Flag program for beaches and marinas,” Thompson said.

Last Friday, Epic and Nature Foundation provided lagoon tours to airport staff, which according to Thompson, were well received. He said the staff was informed about the environmental issues the Simpson Bay Lagoon faces and the importance of protecting the island’s wetlands.

Tadzio Bervoets, the manager of Nature Foundation, said that the five groups of airport staffers were also provided with information about the background of Nature Foundation, and the challenges it faces during the lagoon tours.

“We spoke about the Marine Park that is naturally protected, the seahorses and sea-grass (which can be found in Simpson Bay, Great Bay, Little Bay and the Simpson Bay Lagoon). They were able to understand that not everything is lost,” said Bervoets.

Bervoets said at the Cole Bay corner of the lagoon, there was a small oil spill and the staffers were able to see how the Foundation deals with such an issue.

“After that, they were able to see a more pristine aspect – Mullet Pond. They looked at the mangroves, and the birds that make their home there. … All in all, it was very informative,” Bervoets said.

Thompson said that the environmental foundations are grateful for the airport’s sponsorship and that he was pleasantly surprised by the staff’s enthusiasm and overall positive feedback. It is not the first time the airport has been this involved in environmental issues and he is encouraging it to continue.


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