For this year’s Make Holidays Greener campaign we’re doing something a little bit different from the previous four years.
July will still be an opportunity for travel companies to do something extra to help the destinations they sell, and to talk about greener holidays with their staff and customers. But this July we want to show what tourism can achieve when we act together on a single issue.
So we’re encouraging everyone to get involved in beach cleanups. Here are some reasons why we chose this idea in particular:
- Beaches are a key part of the vast majority of summer holidays. They are a global “place” where tourism meets nature, and so represent many of the issues that brings.
- They are an easy concept to understand, and can help raise awareness of “green” issues. This was the main reason why, in our ring-around to test a few different ideas, travel companies came down in favour of a cleanup.
- They have been a successful part of Make Holidays Greener in the past, and can unite different travel companies to take action for the benefit of their resort.
- We can build on our work in Cyprus where local communities have come together to “green” their beaches.
- We will be able to show the physical result of everyone working together, as we tot up the amount of litter bagged across the globe.
To some, a beach cleanup may seem too small a gesture – and if this is all tourism does to benefit a destination in 2014, we agree! But it will be a great way to engage customers, staff and local communities alike about the health of our oceans, and every tonne of rubbish that is taken out of the environment is good news for birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine life. If you still aren’t convinced that a cleanup will make a difference, check out the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch campaign, now in its 20th year.
Tourism is better placed than any other industry to mobilise this kind of action – and of course it will benefit from cleaner beaches. Furthermore, it is well placed to encourage more substantial changes for longer term impact. The industry has influential and productive relationships with destination communities and suppliers (hoteliers are often beach owners), and is usually represented on destination management councils.
Perhaps we can succeed in banning plastic bag use near certain beaches, or in introducing more litter bins and ashtrays for safe disposal?
If you work in the travel trade, see www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk/greenerhols to find out how you can get involved in the Big Holiday Beach Cleanup.
If you’re a holidaymaker, visit www.makeholidaysgreener.org.uk/big-holiday-beach-cleanup to find out how you can help care for the beach.
By Salli Felton, Acting Chief Executive