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Undergraduate Research Journal : Spring 2012
Hamanasi Eco-Resort: Examining the Profit, Planet, and People Bottom Lines of Sustainability
—Kate Early (Editor: Nias Achorn)
Every morning I wake up in my room, a small house built among the trees, sit on my front porch, and watch the sun climb up over the ocean. After breakfast, I walk barefoot along the beach towards the Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort in Belize. As I near the resort, a boat full of scuba divers leaves the dock for a day of exploring the second largest barrier reef in the world. But I was not sent here to scuba dive with the hawksbill turtle or relax on the beach sipping a coconut, and I am not here to taste local Caribbean cuisine or visit ancient Mayan ruins. I am here to research the practices of ecotourism and sustainability as conducted at the Hamanasi eco-resort. During my research here in the summer of 2011, I learned the importance of balancing economics (profit), with the environment (planet) and society (people), the three Ps of the triple bottom line under which Hamanasi operates.
Research at the Resort and the Triple Bottom Line
My research in Belize was funded through the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) of the University of New Hampshire, which allowed me to spend nine weeks researching at Hamanasi, located in Hopkins, a rural fishing village of 2,000 people. I conducted my research in four phases. In Phase One I distributed questionnaires to guests and conducted interviews with Hamanasi employees, resulting in 34 completed guest questionnaires and 47 employee interviews. The questionnaires and interviews focused on gaining demographic and green knowledge information. During Phase Two I conducted interviews with the owners and general manager of Hamanasi, during which we discussed the planning and start-up of an eco-resort as well as current issues such as employee training, marketing, business management, and plans for future expansion or further implementation of green practices. In Phase Three I conducted a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) Analysis of Hamanasi, a marketing tool which examines these four categories of a business internally and externally. I also conducted a market analysis of properties that compete with Hamanasi, which included interviewing owners and general managers at five local properties in Hopkins Village and at four eco-resorts in the Cayo District of Belize. (In this article, I am not including this information.) Finally, in Phase Four I examined the green certification programs of Green Globe International and Sustainable Travel International (STI). Before leaving Belize, I helped Hamanasi write the policies and procedures for an intermediate certification from STI.
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