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With holiday season on its way, Green Hotelier’s Talking Point for July is looking at ways to engage guests on sustainability issues, and Make Holidays Greener aims to do just that.
This year the hope is to raise awareness of the need for cleaner and greener beaches, and the campaign is sponsored by Visit Greece.
Salli Felton, acting chief executive of The Travel Foundation, said, “We’re delighted that Visit Greece is on board. Their support will help us to spread the word that cleaner, greener beaches aren't just important for tourism, they are essential for coastal communities and wildlife such as sea turtles too. Make Holidays Greener month is the travel industry’s chance to celebrate what they’re doing to keep beaches beautiful.”
Christina Kalogera, Director of the Greek National Tourism Office (GNTO) said, “The focus of the Make Holidays Greener campaign on beaches links to the world-famous Greek shores, which are known for their clean and clear waters. Every year hundreds of beaches and marinas in Greece are awarded with the “Blue Flag” for environmental awareness and protection. As well as providing wonderful holiday experiences, Greek shores also support a diverse range of wildlife, including rare bird species and two protected species; the monk seal and sea turtle.”
This July, travel companies around the world are taking part in Make Holidays Greener month by organising beach clean-ups and promoting healthy oceans facts and tips to their customers. The Travel Foundation has created a range of free resources to help companies to get involved. To sign-up for the campaign hoteliers should visit: www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk/greenerhols
It seems a basic concept that tourists enjoying a beach would want to keep it clean by taking their rubbish away and disposing of it properly, but in the UK, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says that recent figures show the highest amounts of litter on British beaches in twenty years.
Plastic bottles and carrier bags, condoms, nappies, balloons, and tiny plastic pieces can be found on almost every beach in the UK as well as on most beaches around the world. The rubbish is either washed up, blown there or dropped. The MCS has launched a mass beach participation event - ‘The Great British Beach Clean’ - and is looking for volunteers to put their names forward in July, ready for the event in September. They say, “Our beaches have never been so filthy, and most of the litter found can be traced back to us – the general public. We hope the Great British Beach Clean will reconnect people with the coastline to ensure it is a clean, safe place for this generation, and for those to come.”
Around the world the issue of plastic in our oceans and rubbish on our beaches is increasingly pressing and beach clean-ups are a great way to show tourists exactly how much rubbish they are leaving behind as well as presenting an opportunity to highlight the impact the rubbish can have on native wildlife.
However not everyone on their holidays will want to grab a pair of gloves and a black sack and start picking litter, so the GNTO is using Make Holidays Greener to highlight some other aspects of the natural environment.
They’ve published a list of their top Blue Flag beaches.
Christina Kalogera said, “With 16,000 km of coastline, approximately 6,000 islands, and more beaches than you can count, the Make Holidays Greener campaign focusing on cleaner and greener beaches is perfectly aligned. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and we want to make sure they stay that way for both the inhabitants of those beaches and our visitors.”
In 2014 Greece was awarded 408 blue flags for its beaches and 10 for its marinas and was ranked second out of the 51 countries participating in the programme.
In separate findings the annual European Environment Agency bathing water quality report found that 93 per cent of Greece’s swimming waters were classified as ‘excellent’ in terms of quality.
Greek waters are home to 476 species of fish out of a total of 600 recorded in the Mediterranean. Rare loggerhead turtles can be found in several regions including the seas around Zakynthos and the Peloponnese and the marine park in the Sporades surrounding Alonissos, which boast monk seals, dolphins and other rare marine wildlife, is the biggest in Europe.
Additionally the GNTO is showing visitors how they can get closer to nature in Greece. The country has 18 per cent of animal species in Europe, 40 per cent of Europe’s flora; 453 vertebrates living either or land or in the waters, and 800 wetlands.
They list activities including animal watching and some of the places where it’s possible to see some of the 50,000 species of animals including turtles, dolphins, seals and even bears alongside an abundance of bird life.
Some Greek islands have a natural environment which include 6.000 rare species of wild flowers, 55 species of wild orchid and several species of aromatic and pharmaceutical plants.
Finally agrotourism encourages visitors to experience agricultural and rural life first hand. In Greece you can pick olives for olive oil, join some of the wineries for the grape harvest, bee-keep or look after goats.