Leader in eco-tourism

Visitors to Leleuvia. Picture: sustainability.southpacifi cislands.travel

LELEUVIA, an island surrounded by beautiful turquoise emerald waters and sunny smiles.

It is one thing to provide the best of Fijian hospitality but when it comes to implementing sustainable tourism practices, this island is rated as one of the top.

We met the island’s environmental officer, Semiti Lovo who has been quite passionate on making a difference locally and impacting as many people as possible with their environmental practices.

The island resort does not allow plastics and chemical sunscreens; it is one of the strict guidelines when tourists visit.

However mineral sunscreens are allowed. “The chemical sunscreens sort of affects the DNA of our coral, it affects its growth…when it’s on your skin and you go into the water, it goes into the coral.

“Some studies have shown that after people put it on and when they test their urine samples – it’s present in it…so it actually enters your body,” said Mr Lovo.

For the past 10 months, Mr Lovo has been quietly monitoring their reef, corals and their waste management. It’s a job that he finds meaningful especially after years of working in corporate companies “I enjoy the work here, it’s around my field and also — you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile,” the Marine Science graduate said.

“Some places I’ve been to didn’t actually feel like I was doing something; sure you make the money but what else is there?

“We’re monitoring the environment, and educating the tourists that come here especially the locals — we show them how we do waste management, how we sort our waste which is done by hand and we don’t just tell our guests, we explain to them why. “Our major goal is to be the example to the rest of Fiji on how sustainable and eco-tourism should be,” he added.

The resort also records data on every waste collected on the island and they try to lessen their carbon imprint as much as possible.

“So what we do now is we monitor our plastics, we work with our suppliers to reduce as much plastics that come into the island,” said Mr Lovo.

“We have a waste management program and soon we’ll be working with waste recyclers to limit our waste. “We started with the program last year, by collecting data and monitoring it.

“These include water usage data, how we use electricity, waste management — how much goes to the landfill, how much goes to the farms, how much goes to the feed for the fish and we have been able to see where we are,” said the 27-year-old.

“So before, we were running about one boatload of rubbish to the landfill every three weeks now we’re down to one boatload every one and a half months. Soon we’re hoping to reduce one boatload to a bag every month.

“Working with the resort management here really opened my eyes.

“The end game for me is if I can somehow perfect the waste management system here, we could implement it with the Suva City Council and other organisations but we start small and with our data we can show people that it works,” he said smiling.

“One of the things I try to leave with students is if you think your influence is not significant at all, think again.

“If you think that what you’re doing does not come to anything; all it takes is just one person to change one person’s mind and that one person changes two people, it causes a ripple effects so I won’t give up on doing this work.”

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