Julie Middleton, industry programmes manager at the Travel Foundation tells us why it’s imperative that Cyprus’ ‘green’ characteristics are preserved and promoted across the tourism industry.
The Travel Foundation’s purpose is to bring together those public, private and third-sector organisations with a stake in a destination, to develop practical, tourism-based solutions that maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts for the destination’s people and environments.
The “Make Holidays Greener” campaign is now in its fifth year, and is a chance for those organisations to tell their customers what they are doing to become fairer and greener, and to take an extra step. Based on last year’s success, we’re asking people to organise a beach clean and to think about how they can reduce their plastic waste.
We are just getting the campaign underway; the main activities will take place in July. We’d love hotels and tourism businesses to get involved, by raising awareness and organising beach cleans. Beaches are really important to Cyprus. Together with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) we’ve produced a manual for beach managers in Cyprus to help make beaches greener. We also have produced resources for hotels to help them to reduce their plastic waste and communicate with their guests.
Cyprus is of course blessed with a rich history and culture and magnificent countryside and it’s really important that this is preserved; otherwise the very thing that differentiates it as a destination dies.
‘Green’ tourism is conjures up pictures of very specialist tourism but at the Travel Foundation we think that all tourism has the potential to be ‘green’ – protecting the environment, keeping history and culture alive and making sure that people who live in the destination make a fair living from tourist activity. This is what we’ve been working towards in partnership with the CTO and CSTI over the past five years. There is still a long way to go but Cyprus is now the first destination in the world to have mandatory minimum standards for sustainability for hotel establishments – a huge step in the right direction.
I’ve not had a chance to visit it yet, but I’ve heard about Eco Village Tres Elies, Troodos – a fantastic community project which is pretty much self-sufficient. This is a true eco project but there are also other places that are having a positive impact not just on the environment but by benefiting the local community and of course providing great visitor experiences. The herb garden in Pano Akourdaleia is just such a place, or a typical village taverna such as Tremythas Taverna in Simou. Cyprus is full of such places, where the famous Cypriot hospitality lives on and the quality of the produce is superb.
One of the projects we are working on with the CTO and CSTI is to introduce a local label in Pafos – businesses will receive this label if they fulfil certain criteria such as supplying locally sourced food, selling traditional crafts or promoting local heritage. Hotel staff have also been trained as “ambassadors” to tell guests about the places they can go to get a real flavour of Pafos. We hope this means more people will be tempted to leave their hotels to sample some of the wonderful quality local experiences in the Pafos area.
We’ve also launched a project to introduce a ‘Cyprus Breakfast’ concept in hotels in Cyprus. As well as providing tourists with traditional local tastes, the breakfast supports local agri-food businesses and is helping the move towards a more sustainable local system of procurement.
If anyone reading this article wants to get more involved in ‘green’ tourism in Cyprus then I suggest they get in contact with our partner, the CSTI. There are different types of membership and ways to get involved.