By Jean Christou
Hotels in Cyprus will be the first in the world to ‘go fully green’ under mandatory new rules, and have been given 12 months to become compliant, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said yesterday.
“For the first time in any holiday destination, mandatory sustainability standards for hotel establishments have been approved by the CTO,” an announcement said. “This means every hotel operating in Cyprus must now take action to protect the environment.”
The new minimum standards are part of a wider programme of CTO reforms jointly drawn up with the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) and the Travel Foundation. Compliance is linked with inspections related to the renewal of hotel licences.
“Hotels in Cyprus will now be required to demonstrate sustainable business practices that will ultimately lead to cost savings and a more authentic Cypriot offering for their guests,” said the CTO.
According to research done in compiling the new standards an all-inclusive hotel on the island at 75 per cent occupancy, but which was not named, was producing anything from 6,000 to 8,000 kilos of garbage a week – over 2,000 kilos was coming from the kitchen, and almost 1,500 kilos from the guest bedrooms with significant amounts from the pool bar and restaurants.
Some 65 per cent of food waste comes from preparation – peelings, off cuts and anything ruined while cooking, 30 per cent comes back from customers’ plates and 5.0 per cent is classified as ‘spoilage’ such as out-of-date or unusable items.
The CSTI, the Travel Foundation and Thomas Cook recently worked with 21 hotels in Ayia Napa and Paphos to reduce the amount of plastic generated without impacting on the guest experience.
The study found that on average participating hotels saved 19 per cent on the total number of plastic items used from the previous season.
The total number of plastic items saved equalled 2.2 million over four to five months. It also found that over half of customer respondents said the plastics reduction initiative had a positive impact on their holiday, and 98 per cent said they would like to see similar projects rolled out in other destinations. Salli Felton, acting chief executive of the Travel Foundation, said:
“It’s been fantastic to support Cyprus with this world-first. Their commitment to implementing minimum sustainability standards has created a national framework that will ensure sustainability is business as usual rather than an optional extra. This step change will see Cyprus leading the way where other destinations are sure to follow.”
CTO director general Marios Hannides said sustainable tourism development was a key pillar of the organisation’s “strategic direction and ambition to become an exemplary destination in this area”. He said he would enhance the quality and attractiveness of the island’s tourist product.
Hoteliers are also fully on board, they said yesterday, and were involved in drawing up the plan. Cyprus Hotels Association director general Zacharias Ioannides told the Cyprus Mail: “It is a positive development with net benefits and guaranteed savings, and make hotels environmentally friendly.”
The changes to how the hotels operate under the scheme need not be costly. A special report telling them how to go about their ‘waste mapping’ has been provided.
These include the obvious, such as using shampoo and shower dispensers rather than the tiny bottles and soaps currently found in most hotels. The cost of installing dispensers would be far outweighed by the savings.
It also suggests using non-laminated paper for menus so that they can be recycled, using carafes of water on tables instead of bottled water, taking away condiment sachets replacing them with containers, and asking if guests want accompaniments for meals rather than simply serving them automatically.
”An important part of implementing these changes is to ensure that alongside the physical interventions provided such as introducing recycling bins there is also communications support so that staff and customers understand what they need to do and why they should do it,” said the report.
Assessments for the new criteria will begin in 12 months time, to allow hotels time to carry out all the necessary work in order to comply.