SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 17, October 2016 - Page 123

provision of basic services and adversely affect local access to livelihoods; including land and aquatic resource use, rights-of-way, transport, and housing. The irony is that when we travel the culture and the people we seek to share experiences with are often negatively impacted. The local chef, farmer, artisan, hotelier, guide, and dive master all depend on tourism for income. All deserve fair wages, a safe workplace, equitable hiring practices, and the opportunity to hold management positions.

These sustainability principles are the backbone of the Blue Certified program. Blue Certified is an eco-certification program where dive shops and resorts learn and implement the 3 P’s of sustainable business that include profit (economic), planet (environmental), and people (socio-cultural). Developed by Ocean First Institute in partnership with Sustainable Travel International, Blue Certified provides scuba dive operations with the tools to perform better for themselves, the environment, their community, and their customers.

So look for and support the businesses that employ, respect, and empower the local community. Fully enjoy the authentic meal that celebrates local traditions, responsible sourcing, and genuine cuisine. Stay with a locally owned and operated resort that keeps tourism dollars within the community. Tour with a guide who conserves natural treasures. Seek the skilled crafters and learn the stories behind their art. Dive with a Blue Certified scuba operator. These are the authentic experiences that make for a great vacation and lasting memories. Plus when you do, you are making a positive impact on the community, using tourism as a force for good and protecting paradise.

Join us again next month for tips on sustainable diving and tourism as part of Blue Certified’s partnership with SEVENSEAS Magazine.

With partnerships throughout the dive industry, Blue Certified guides dive shops towards operating at an optimal level in all day-to-day operations and in relation to their biggest stakeholder, the ocean.

Deby Stabler is a responsible tourism consultant for Ocean First Institute. Imagine a vacation that improves the destination you are visiting at