Cyprus takes the lead on sustainable destinations

Sustainability has become mandatory for hotels in Cyprus.

Sustainability has become mandatory for hotels in Cyprus.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus has implemented a world first in sustainability by making it mandatory for all hotels to meet certain standards.

For the first time in any destination, mandatory sustainability standards for hotel establishments have been approved by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO). This means every hotel operating in Cyprus must now take action to protect the environment and support their local community.

The new minimum standards are part of a wider programme of reforms from the CTO, the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) and the Travel Foundation - to make Cyprus a leading destination for sustainable tourism. Because of the scheme, 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.

The standards cover a range of criteria including:

  • Reducing energy, water and chemical use, and the amount of waste generated.
  • Training staff and having a "green team" responsible for sustainability issues.
  • Sourcing local goods and services where possible.
  • Promoting authentic Cypriot food and entertainment.
  • Supporting local charities and community initiatives.

The CTO's inspectors will check compliance as part of their general assessment of quality standards. As hotels sustainability performance improves over time, the standards will be reviewed and revised in order to move the Cypriot hotel sector towards best practice in the long term.

Lefkos Phylactides, director of tourism from the CTO said: "We are delighted that the hotel industry is working with us to make Cyprus a world leader in sustainable tourism. These minimum standards are not just good business sense, they will help us protect the very things that draw people to Cyprus: our landscapes, our culture and heritage, and our welcoming people. Visitors to Cyprus can be assured that we will offer a great quality, authentic product both now and for future generations."

Meanwhile, the Travel Foundation is using a brand new 'big picture approach' to measuring the impact of tourism in Cyprus using the TIMM Total Impact Measurement & Management tool as devised by PwC which aims to value the economic, fiscal, social and environmental impacts of tourism . The framework  will be applied to TUI Travel's mainstream tourism operations, focusing on a selection of hotels used by TUI in Cyprus. It's the first time TIMM has been used in a tourism context.

Salli Felton, Acting Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation, said: "It's been fantastic to support Cyprus with this world-first in sustainability. 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.

"Additionally the TIMM project involves us testing an approach that hasn't yet been applied to tourism, and so we expect to learn a great deal from it. If the methodology turns out to be something that improves our understanding of the wider impacts of tourism, it has huge potential to influence business operations and destination management. That would be very exciting."

The pilot is expected to provide new insights into the impacts - both positive and negative - of mainstream tourism on a holiday destination and to highlight the practical implications of undertaking holistic impact measurement more widely in the industry and/or in other destinations.

All the impacts will be measured and valued, so that they can be considered alongside the more traditional financial measurements for strategic business decisions. The impact of transport to/from the hotels, hotel operations, the entire tourism supply chain within Cyprus and customer and employee spending impacts will all be within scope, covering aspects of tourism such as:

  • Working conditions
  • Social / community benefits
  • Local economic benefits
  • Tax contributions

The Travel Foundation and TUI hope to publish their findings from the pilot in early 2015.