Month: July 2014

Would you eat that?

Imagine you are a hungry sea turtle that cannot tell the difference between a real jellyfish — a nutritious treat — and a floating plastic bag that very much resembles a jellyfish. Fooled by the illusion, you swallow the plastic bag — a deadly mistake. The plastic makes you feel so full that you unwittingly starve yourself to death!medasset poster

The plastic in our seas is killing hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and other marine animals each year, as they often mistake it for food. To raise awareness about this startling statistic, MEDASSET, an organisation that has been promoting safe and responsible waste disposal throughout the Mediterranean since 1998, created the “You See the Difference. A Turtle Does Not” campaign in 2012.

Millions of tourists visit the Mediterranean each summer, causing real problems for coastal communities, which are asked to manage waste well beyond their capacities. In response, MEDASSET, with support from various sponsors, placed giant posters at the Athens and Berlin Airports, hoping to directly target travelers about this enormous environmental issue.

Over the last two years, the response to the poster has been phenomenal. It has been placed in permanent exhibitions at prestigious museums and aquariums and gone viral on Facebook.

At the Vienna Natural History Museum

At the Vienna Natural History Museum

The best part of the campaign, however, is that it is truly international: it has been translated into twelve languages and adopted by like-minded organisations everywhere from Alaska, to island nations in the Indian ocean, to Costa Rica, to Australia, and all over the Mediterranean, MEDASSET’s field of activity.

It’s a tool that works, and we are glad we can share it and raise awareness about this global issue.

Jenny Ioannou, Head of Communications, MEDASSET
jennyioannou@medasset.org
www.medasset.org

Brighton’s Beach Brigade gets Busy

Last week we kicked off Make Holidays Greener month with a beach clean in Brighton (strictly speaking, Hove). Over 30 people from the travel trade* came out to do their bit, and we were guided by Ed from the Marine Conservation Society – a charity that runs hundreds of beach cleans with volunteers in the UK every year.

20140703 Make Holidays Greener

It’s high season, and Brighton and Hove’s beaches are being regularly cleaned by the local council. Our section of beach looked pretty much spotless, and yet…

In under an hour, the group collected 1025 pieces of rubbish!

About two thirds of this was plastic. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, and so if someone doesn’t actually come along and pick it up, it will be there for many decades before it finally breaks down. And of course as well as looking ugly, plastic litter can cause all sorts of problems for marine wildlife and sea birds that either get caught in it, or mistake it for food and swallow it. Among our haul we picked up cigarette lighters, bottle tops, tennis balls, bits of disposable barbecues, ice lolly sticks, cigarette stubs, cotton bud sticks (flush them down the toilet and they end up on the beach), bits of fishing net and drinks cans. What’s great about the Big Holiday Beach Clean is that it’s not just about cleaning up after ourselves – tourism is only one of many sources of beach litter. Rather, tourism is perfectly placed to be part of the solution: staff and customers are based around beautiful beaches across the globe, and they really appreciate their value both to tourism and to wildlife. And once you’ve been on a beach clean you realise it’s not just worthwhile, it’s fun (especially when the sun is shining)!

We’re hoping to see over 100 beach cleans across the globe this month. Thanks to those of you who have already done yours, and sent us your pictures and stories. If you want to get involved there’s still time to sign up. And if you missed our Brighton event but want to take part in a UK clean up, please visit mcsuk.org/beachwatch

*Thanks to: Flexitreks, Pure Crete, TUI Travel, AITO, Sunvil, Mountain Kingdoms, Neilson, Thomson Airways, TTG, Ski Safari, ABTA and The Eventa Group.

Visiting Bluefields Bay and Rastafari Indigenous Village in Jamaica

Suzannah Newham at Rastafari Indigenous Village

Suzannah Newham at Rastafari Indigenous Village

Suzannah Newham (Destinations Programme Officer) recently visited Jamaica to work with Annette Tingle (Jamaica Programmes Coordinator) to conduct scoping research and to visit existing project partners.

The trip took Suzannah and Annette away from the main resorts of Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios to the beautiful south coast. Here, the Travel Foundation are supporting The Caribsave Partnership in scoping the potential for new excursions which could support local fishing communities in diversifying their income while ensuring effective environmental stewardship of the Bluefields Bay and Gallon fish sanctuaries.

Scoping included extended time with the fishermen and wardens, as well as meetings with key tour operators, a tour of the historical sites of Bluefields Bay, a visit to a cave network with Cockpit Country Adventure Tours, a trip to Treasure Beach and stops at both Appleton Rum Estate and YS Falls – all “must sees” for trips to Jamaica.

The results of this research visit are currently being considered by Caribsave – keep an eye on the Travel Foundation website for updates and news about the new excursions.

Back in Montego Bay, Suzannah and Annette also visited the Rastafari Indigenous Village (RIV) community to work on a recently launched project which aims to develop mainstream market links for RIV’s unique micro-excursion. Following visits from TUI UK & Ireland staff, recommendations for small improvements have been made, and all RIV community members have been offered the opportunity to experience an excursion already sold to Thomson and First Choice customers. Jill Carter (Head of Retail at TUI UK & Ireland) will be visiting the community later in July to deliver a training workshop, alongside Annette, on customer expectations.

The aim is to trial RIV excursions with TUI UK & Ireland customers by September this year.

We would like to thank Rhino Car Hire and their partners in Jamaica, Island Car Rentals, for their support with car hire for this trip – not only was the car invaluable in terms of covering the 750km+ of road for the scoping exercise, it also proved a great way to see the country and find hidden gems off the beaten track.

Thomas Cook celebrates Make Holidays Greener Month with beach cleans and holiday swap shops

Calvia Council Official MHG photo - crop

July is Make Holidays Greener Month and this year’s theme is the Big Holiday Beach Clean. Travel companies around the world are running beach clean-ups and other sustainable tourism activities. Jo Hendrickx, Sustainable Destinations Manager for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, explains how they’re getting involved…

Thomas Cook has supported the Make Holidays Greener campaign since it was first launched in 2010, and it has now become an integral part of our annual sustainability calendar. Our overseas teams particularly look forward to the month of July and use the campaign as a time to increase their sustainability activity and, in particular, to engage with holidaymakers, suppliers and local organisations.

Make Holidays Greener activities have proven a great tool in bringing people together in support of environmental and social activities that can make a really big difference to holiday destinations, and the people that live in and visit them.

Over the years, hundreds of reps, customers and suppliers have taken part in beach, underwater and forest cleans – removing waste and debris that includes bottles, cans, plastics, tyres and even toilet seats!

Our biggest achievement so far was working together with Calvia Council in Mallorca and other tour operators to undertake a joint underwater clean up in Palma Nova bay. Reps donned their scuba gear and headed underwater with specially designed floatable collection bags that enabled them to clear the seabed and float the debris up to other teams waiting at the surface. It was collected on the beach by Calvia Council and all 800kg of waste was taken for recycling.

This year, we were delighted to find that the overall campaign is based on cleaner beaches and are expecting even more activity than ever from our overseas teams as this really is our forte. We will be doing more underwater cleans along the coast in Tanzania, Sunwing and Sunprime Hotels have already carried out a number of beach cleans as have our teams in Cyprus.

In the Costa Blanca we will take a different approach as many hotels are not close to the beach, but we know there are still plenty of things we can do to make a difference, so our teams will be asking holidaymakers to recycle their almost empty sun creams, other toiletries and even lilos – by holding swap shops in hotels and then ensuring the final empty products are collected for recycling.

We are also really proud to see our Travelife GOLD awarded SENTIDO Golden Star Hotel in Bulgaria pledging their support through the Travel Foundation Beach Clean Map and are looking forward to hearing how their event goes on 12 July. It’s great to see that so many of the hotels involved here are Travelife awarded, demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and involving staff and customers in their efforts.

We will be recording the efforts of all our teams and look forward to providing an update at the end of the month.