The Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) event “Greening Cyprus for a Sustainable Future” was organised with great success on Friday, January 24th, 2020, on the occasion of the 13th Annual General Meeting. The event took place in the village of Agros at the Rodon Mount Hotel & Resort.
The event was under the auspices of the Honourable Deputy Minister of Tourism Mr. Savvas Perdios.
The following honoured the event with their presence:
- the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr. Savvas Perdios
- the Commissioner for the Development of Mountain Communities, Mr. Costas Champiaouris
- the Member of Parliament, Mr. Charalambos Theopemptou
- the President of the Community Council of Agros, Mr. Michalis Constantinides
- Mountain community leaders, members, associates and friends of CSTI
The President of the Agros Community Council, Michalis Constantinides, explained in his welcome address that Agros is still one of the living lungs of the mountain communities thanks to private business initiatives that still keep many families in the village. He also referred to the difficulties faced by both the Community Council and private investors due to state bureaucracy in their efforts to create new employment and modernization of infrastructure for the village.
A warm welcome was given to Costas Champiaouris, who recently assumed the duties of Commissioner for the Development of Mountain Communities. In his address, he referred to the national strategy for the development of mountain areas and stressed that the goal is for the mountain communities to regain their glory in tourism and establish better connectivity.
Mr. Perdios, who is openly in favour of actively addressing the challenges posed by climate change in Cyprus as an attractive tourist destination, made a special impression both in his address and in the panel discussion. He informed those present that climate change issues are one of the five main pillars of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism's strategy in terms of the impacts and the environmental costs incurred by the tourism industry in Cyprus. He also announced that a special committee has already been set up to deal with climate change issues.
The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. George Zittis, a researcher at the Cyprus Institute for Climate and Atmosphere Research, who gave an enlightening presentation of what is happening in the Mediterranean in relation to climate change and its impact on tourism. Special mention was made as to how we expect the anthropogenic climate change to affect the tourism industry in Cyprus and the wider region.
The Chairman of the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative, Mr. Philippos Drousiotis, presented the activities of CSTI for the previous year (2019), a very productive year, and then presented the ongoing/new projects for the year 2020-2021 as follows:
- “Keep our Sand and Sea Plastic Free” an initiative of TUI Care Foundation in collaboration with Travel Foundation
- BeMed project “Plastic Free Entertainment Cruises and Water Sport Activities”
- IUCN Project “Plastic Waste-Free Islands Med” in collaboration with Together Cyprus
- Domognostics+ “Analysis of data to reduce energy costs in hotels” in collaboration with PHOEBE Research & Innovation and KIOS Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence, University of Cyprus
A panel discussion followed with the following participants:
- Savvas Perdios - Deputy Minister of Tourism
- Charalambos Theopemptou - Member of Parliament
- Dr. George Zittis - Associate Research Scientist working for the Climate and Atmosphere Research Centre of The Cyprus Institute
- Antje Papageorgiou - Business Support Manager for Cyprus, Malta, Egypt and the Middle East (TUI Cyprus)
- George Ioannou - Business Consultant on Strategy, Sustainability and Quality
The Moderator was the Environmental Journalist/Reporter of CyBC, Mr. Theodoulos Koullapi.
Opening the discussion, Mrs. Papageorgiou cited the growing importance of environmental issues such as climate change for business professionals, as well as the growing tourist trend towards more sustainable forms of tourism.
Mr. Theopemptou mentioned some of the impacts of Climate Change in Cyprus and among others also highlighted other environmental issues of the island that may affect tourism.
On the importance of the issue, Mr. Ioannou emphasised the fact that recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make special reference to the impacts of Climate Change on tourism. He commented, inter alia, on the lack of adaptation measures by the industry to existing national plans to address the impacts of Climate Change.
Mr. Perdios also highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism and the Deputy Ministry's plans to support the rural, mountainous and Green Line areas.
Dr. Zittis noted that the link between climate change and tourism is two-way as the industry is responsible for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions and he welcomed the organisations' work and that of other initiatives aimed at reducing the energy footprint of the tourism sector.
The following conclusions were drawn from the discussion and public participation:
- Climate change in Cyprus as a Mediterranean country is a fact and this is manifested through the steady rise in temperature every year and especially during the summer months.
- Climate change around the world is mainly due to anthropogenic activities.
- Large travel companies understand the dangers of both popular destinations that may lose their prominence due to severe global warming as well as their own environmental footprint, and set clear targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions of airlines, cruises, hotels, offices and other tourism related businesses.
- Cyprus needs an integrated strategy to tackle the effects of tourism on climate change.
- There is a need to encourage stakeholders involved to create sustainable accommodation in the mountains that will promote quality and experiential tourism.
- The hotel industry must adopt sustainable practices to address the problems that may arise from the risks posed by climate change by incorporating these practices in corporate social responsibility and health and safety standards.
Every year, the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative gives awards to individuals, businesses or organisations that excel in sustainability.
CSTI 2019 Award Winners:
- COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY AWARD – Community of Agros
- BUSINESS TOURISM SUSTAINABILITY AWARD - CYPRUS VILLAGES ΑGROTOURISM
- DAFNIS PANAGIDES AWARD – Mr. John Wood - Lifetime Responsible Hotel General Manager
A special moment at the event was the recognition of sailor Marilena Makri, who secured a place in the Tokyo Olympics. In her speech, the 17-year-old sailor spoke about her desire to sail in clean seas and how she is prepared to fight not only for an Olympic medal but also for the protection of the environment.
Taking into account the environmental concerns of the sailor athlete Marilena Makri, the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative has given her the title “CSTI Youth Ambassador 2020” for the organisation's projects on reducing the use of disposable plastic to prevent sea pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.
A reception followed with a Producers Fair giving CSTI members and producers the opportunity to present their products and guests to get a taste of Cypriot traditional delights and drinks.
On Saturday, 25 January, CSTI, the Agros Friends of the Forest Association (“Φιλοδασικός Σύνδεσμος Αγρού») and the Village of Agros organised a tree planting within the framework of the event “Greening Cyprus for a Sustainable Future” in the area of Agros Community in order to raise awareness and prevent climate change.
Around 100 trees were planted with the help of the participants from the event. After the tree planting, there was a tour to three main producers of the Agros village.
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