Sand and Sea Plastic-free

This initiative with TUI Care Foundation brings together tourists, tourism businesses and residents across Ayia Napa, Protaras and the wider Famagusta region of Cyprus to cut consumption of single-use plastic so that less enters the waste stream and finds its way to the marine environment.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Why? The tourism industry is engaging with the issue of plastic pollution, which is a particular threat to ocean flora and fauna. Plastics make up 95% of sea and beach waste across the Mediterranean, and the Mediterranean Sea has one of the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world, exacerbated by water circulation patterns.

This area of Cyprus is well-known for its beautiful beaches, an important resource for both tourism and local wildlife. However 80% of rubbish collected on Cyprus beaches is plastic waste.

Our approach. We have been working with the tourism sector to reduce demand for and consumption of single-use plastics – such as plastic straws, cups, cutlery and hotel toiletries – through changing procurement practices. The project is also raising awareness of the issue with residents, school children and tourists in order to reduce demand. Collaboration with regional authorities will help to embed longer-lasting change.

The project campaign Keep Our Sand and Sea Plastic Free is initially being delivered in the popular neighbouring resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras.

Achievements to date

  • Nearly 50 hotels and over 35 bars are now signed up to the project and have committed to make changes to reduce their consumption of plastic
  • There is good engagement from key local stakeholders including the Municipalities, the Hotel Associations and the Deputy Ministry of Tourism.
  • Awareness-raising campaigns have reached several thousand residents.
  • Approx. 200 schoolchildren have participated in project activities.
  • Beach cleans have taken place with support from residents and local businesses.
  • Downloadable ‘plastic free’ tips and resources are available through the website

Sandsea collage

The effects of the pandemic

Following a brief hiatus in Spring 2020, the project got underway again during the summer season, launching a Whale Sculpture recycling point and information signs on certain beaches. Inevitably adaptation was necessary, since international arrivals had dropped considerably, thus the project moved towards targeting residents, schoolchildren and domestic tourists.

We also moved training sessions with tourism businesses online, and produced guidance for businesses on how to keep customers safe without resorting to single-use plastics.

> Facts for hotels: tips on staying plastic-free during the pandemic

> Guidance for hotels: detailed advice for every area of the hotel

Our key message is that one crisis should not be allowed to accelerate another, and good hygiene is superior to single-use items.

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