Towards Zero Waste Tourism in Cyprus: Tourism initiatives making a difference

Towards Zero Waste Tourism in Cyprus: Tourism initiatives making a difference

In the post-pandemic era, the tourism industry is facing increasingly pressing environmental challenges, forcing it to move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector are exploring innovative ways to adapt and thrive by adopting the principles of circular and sustainable tourism.

A clear example of this commitment was seen during one of the study visits organised in Cyprus under the ECOTOURS project, which focused on ‘Towards plastic-free tourism: reducing waste and consumption of natural resources such as energy, water, soil and biodiversity’. The event was attended by 15 tourism SMEs from Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, France and Cyprus and stimulated intense discussions on strategies to minimise the use of resources and waste. The importance of the ‘5 Rs of sustainability’ – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renew and Redesign – to reduce the environmental

Click here to watch the interview with the SMEs present.

From theory to practice through exploration

The theoretical sessions were accompanied by practical experiences to translate the concepts learnt into tangible realities. For example, the SMEs visited the Ecophysis Beekeeping and Nature Centre, a local family business that offers experiential and educational tours. Other visits included the organic olive farm ‘Terra Oliva’, where more than 7,000 olive trees, including historic specimens up to 1,000 years old, are cultivated using organic methods.

A remarkable example of turning a personal idea into a successful environmental initiative was the ‘Cyherbia’ botanical park in Cyprus. A visit to the park enabled participants to understand its mission to minimise its ecological footprint and inspire greater environmental awareness by promoting inclusion and diversity.

During the visits, participants gained a deeper understanding of local initiatives for sustainable practices. The workshops also enabled the creation of ecotourism itineraries, directly applying the knowledge gained and providing an example of how peer learning and international cooperation can be translated into concrete actions that benefit businesses and tourists.

Sustainable tourism is not limited to nature conservation, but also includes the enhancement of local cultures. In this context, the interactive experience at the Cyprus Millers’ Museum offered a detailed overview of the history of local wheat milling, culminating in the preparation of traditional bread, thus celebrating the country’s cultural heritage.

Bridging the gap to greener and more responsible tourism is complex, but initiatives such as ‘ECOTOURS’, which aims to empower local communities to develop circular and sustainable tourism ecosystems, prove that it can be done. With a collective commitment from tourism SMEs and tourists alike, we can look forward to a future where travel is not only about exploring new destinations, but also contributing to the health of our planet.

 

About ECOTOURS:

The ECOTOURS project (Empowering local communities by turning them into laboratories for co-development of circular and sustainable tourism ecosystems) strengthens the capacity of micro, small and medium-sized tourism enterprises and community tourism ecosystems. Through transnational cooperation, peer learning and capacity building, the project engages key stakeholders and local communities in Europe in cohesive and collaborative strategies and actions to build a support system for tourism SMEs, focusing on how circular economy principles and standards can be applied to tourism services and businesses.

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