By Jean Christou
HOTELS IN Cyprus generated around 1.8 kg of waste per customer per night and used 340 litres of water per guest per night in 2013, according to a just-published pilot environmental impact study relating to tourism carried out on the island.
The study, “described as groundbreaking’” carried out jointly by the British Travel Foundation, tour operators TUI and PricewaterhouseCoopers, covered eight Cypriot hotels and 60,000 guests over the entire year, and interviewed over 600 employees in the industry.
Data from the hotels showed that, on average, hotels generate 1.8kg of waste per customer per night which exceeds the average Cypriot resident’s 1.4kg of waste per day.
It found that the hotels recycled 25 per cent of their waste in 2013, which is slightly more than the Cypriot average of 20 per cent in 2010 – the last year for which data was available.
Though the waste produced per guest might be only a bit higher than that of residents, the study also found that 25kg of waste per customer night was produced in the supply chains of the hotel and other services the customers use in Cyprus.
On average, the eight hotels used around 340 litres of water per customer night in 2013. “Although this is less than the goal set by TUI Group of 400 litres per customer, it is more than the average Cypriot resident uses – 264 litres per day,” the report said.
“We are all aware that tourism can have a profound impact on holiday destinations. We know that tourism will bring economic and fiscal benefits in the form of profits, jobs and tax revenues, and it will affect the host communities’ way of life and the environment in ways which can be both positive and negative,” said Salli Felton, chief executive of the Travel Foundation.
“Yet it’s striking how much we don’t know about tourism’s impact given its scale and reach. While much work has been done to consider different impacts in isolation, to date there has been very little consideration given to whether these impacts can be measured, valued and compared. That’s why this pilot is so exciting and important: it’s breaking new ground.”
The information gained from the pilot study is also intended to provide insight into how all parts of the sector can better measure, manage and communicate its impacts leading to a more sustainable form of tourism.
The analysis also showed that only 37 per cent of the food and beverages bought by the hotels was reported to have been produced in Cyprus. In comparison, data based on government statistics suggested that, on average, 71 per cent of purchases from the agricultural sector by businesses in the food, beverage and tobacco sector came from Cypriot suppliers. “This suggests that hotels source proportionately less of their purchases of food and beverages from Cypriot producers than the national average,” the report said.
Also for every euro spent by the hotels, the total indirect tax impact was €0.27 while every euro of discretionary spend by customers outside the hotels was estimated to generate €0.33 in indirect tax impact.
While the pilot study did not specifically examine the potential role of government in improving the tourism’s sector’s impact, it said it had identified a number of areas where either the Cyprus government or the municipalities could potentially work with tour operators to improve the positive impacts of tourism and reduce their negative impacts.
These areas include the development of stronger local supply chains with greater capacity to deliver higher quality and potentially more diverse Cypriot products and services to meet the needs of the sector and the provision of incentives for Cypriot businesses, particularly hotels and to stimulate investment in energy efficient new technology to reduce the sector’s environmental impact.
It also suggested improved data needed to be gathered from regular visitor exit surveys to capture the habits of visitors to Cyprus, including their spending patterns, use of cultural heritage sites and public infrastructure and services.