Talking point: Cleaning beaches, an opportunity for hotels

Staff of Aquila Porto Rythmno on the beach clean

Staff of Aquila Porto Rythmno on the beach clean

Joining our sustainable destinations theme this month, Elizabeth Andrews at Travelife says one way hotels can manage their local environment and ensure longevity of their destination’s surroundings is by caring for their neighbourhood beach.

It’s the last week of July and only 10 more days for hotels to register a beach clean for the Make Holidays Greener campaign this summer.

This year is the first time the annual industry beach cleaning campaign is being led by ABTA The Travel Association, alongside Travelife sustainability certification scheme for hotels and The Travel Foundation.

So far, over 70 hotels and travel organisations around the world have signed up and an estimated 3000kg of litter will be cleared off beaches by the end of the season.

Hotels have invited their staff, customers, local NGOs and municipalities into their beach cleaning teams and have shared photos on social media using the campaign’s hashtag ‘#MHG2016’.

Is beach cleaning an opportunity for hotels?

The #MHG2016 campaign is promoting to both the industry and holidaymakers to be more mindful of their destination, to protect the natural environment and engage with sustainability issues.

ABTA’s 2016 research of UK holiday-makers found that almost two thirds (65%) of people who have visited the beach during their holiday said ‘a clean beach is most important to them.’

Nearly all people in the survey believed it is their responsibility to take trash away from the beach, yet 44% of the surveyed people think there is litter due to a lack of refuse bins on beaches.

As well as ABTA’s research, hotels have reported to Travelife about the trash they have found on beaches. The Travelife certified hotel, Aquila Porto Rethymno in Greece reported that their team picked up mostly cigarettes and plastic bags. The tour operator EXO Travel, in Cambodia confirmed the most common item they found was plastic bottles and the most unusual was a toothbrush and flip flops.

Approximately 20 people from the Family Life Creta Paradise and Family Life Caldera Beach in Crete collected almost seven bags filled with litter of mostly plastic cups, cigarette butts, empty bottles of water and newspapers.

Manos Loumpakis, Hotel Manager at the Family Life Creta Paradise, who organised two beach cleans this year said, “It is so important to not just claim that you ‘think green’ but also to act on it too. We are proud of our second successful effort which was achieved by staff and guests. We will continue contributing to environmental conservation in any way we can.”

But what’s next, after the campaign?

With the hoteliers’ feedback for the Make Holidays Greener campaign in addition to ABTA’s summer research, there is an opportunity for hotels to help change behaviour to minimise waste and litter disposal within a destination.

Changing behaviour could mean helping people to make better choices to reduce their negative impacts on the environment, by offering reusable drinks containers, for example.

Travelife for hotels international sustainability certification scheme helps hotels to implement sustainability policies, to monitor and manage environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Hotels that achieve the Travelife Gold certification have been recognised for implementing their waste reduction policies and changing the behaviour of staff and guests. For example, Gold certified hotels must record the separation of waste (including glass, paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, food / bio matter and oil), monitor food waste, label bins properly and train staff on recyclable materials, communicate with guests to re-use items such as towels and water bottles, bulk buy products to reduce packaging and finally work with the local authority to implement legislation.

Cleaning beaches helps hotels to communicate better environmental standards, as well as ensuring a more sustainable destination. However, if hotels begin to understand what litter is left on beaches such as hundreds of cigarette butts and plastic bottles, they can then implement a policy to manage waste, so guests are less likely to drop it on beaches and into the sea.

The Make Holidays Greener campaign should end with hotels recognising the opportunity to understand waste disposal habits, train staff on recycling policies and engage the local authorities to invest in proper disposal bins.

To sign up to the Make Holidays Greener campaign and register a beach clean, visit:

For more information about Travelife for Hotels and Accommodation, visit:

The Travelife Collection is an online web search for Travelife Gold hotels:

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