Cyprus

Sustainability helps meet customer demand for unique experiences

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Malcolm Dunn and Isis Iglesias

Malcolm Dunn, Customer Service Manager (TUI), and Isis Iglesias, Contracting Manager (TUI), were chosen as volunteers through TUI and the Travel Foundation’s skill-match volunteering programme, Project Discovery. They spent two weeks in Cyprus researching how to maximise the local economic benefit of TUI’s excursion programme.

Having spent two weeks talking to customers, excursion providers and seeing what the island has to offer, Malcolm and Isis landed back in the UK with fresh ideas about what a sustainable excursion looks like, and we asked them to share their thoughts.

For you, what is the most important element of a sustainable excursion?

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Malcolm – “For me, the most important element of a sustainable excursion is the positive legacy it leaves. Whether this is to the environment or the local people, there must be some element of positive benefit that leaves a lasting difference. If the future is kept in mind, the impact from sustainable excursions will be felt further, for longer and by more people.”

 

During your research, what did customers want from an excursion?

Isis – “Customers want to have enjoyable and unique experiences. Sustainable excursions usually have a more carefully designed itinerary which takes into account the impact of an excursion so that it treads lightly on  the environment and provides benefits to local people, and in some cases helps to preserve culture and heritage.  In this sense, creating more sustainable excursions can be seen as a recipe to creating more unique excursions, and customers will see the value in this.

During the customer interviews we conducted while in resort, we came across an important sector of the people who explicitly mentioned they would be more likely to book the excursion if they knew it was sustainable. There is an opportunity to communicate the ethical side of our excursions, and make a connection between our customers and our brand values.”

Malcolm added, “Overall, the customers we interviewed all want value for money with their excursions. If explained in the right way, sustainability can become a key selling point for excursions, ensuring that customers feel they are getting value themselves, as well as giving back.”

If you were to write a checklist for ensuring future excursions are sustainable, what would it include?

image-9Isis – “I would like to see suppliers setting targets for themselves to meet, within the environmental, economic and social spheres, because they need to be realistic targets for them to be able to start making changes. We could then help them make continuous improvements towards becoming sustainable. Step-by-step this would help to change the entire excursion programme.”

Malcolm – “To ensure an excursion is sustainable, we must take into account the people that are impacted – are they benefitting from the excursion on their doorstep? If not, how can we ensure they are?”


 

What happens next? The research will help feed into TUI’s excursion product development, shape customer and staff communications, and the learnings could also be spread to other destinations.

Greener beaches to spread across the med…

The Chairman of The Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI), Philippos Drousiotis, was invited to present at the MITOMED final conference “Challenges and perspectives for Coastal and Maritime Tourism in Europe” which took place in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday the 12th of May, 2015.    MITOMED stands for ‘Models of Integrated Tourism in the Mediterranean’, is a transnational project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

MITOMED_version 1_IY_page1_image1The CSTI is a key partner of the Travel Foundation in Cyprus. Below we hear more from Philippos…

“With partners from coastal regions across the med, it was a great opportunity to talk about the work being done in Cyprus, to share our learnings and hope that the benefits can be spread to other destinations.

Something that really seemed to strike a cord with attendees was the ‘Greening Cyprus Beaches’ project, and the MITOMED partners are interested in promoting the Greening Cyprus Beaches project by including it in the action plan of the project for sustainable management of maritime and coastal tourism.

It will be presented as a good example for the regeneration of the sun & sea product in the med area by having quality beaches. It’s great to see that the results of one of our projects can be applied to other destinations, and they can benefit too.”

Find out more about the Greener Beaches project here.

Cyprus breakfast at the King Jason

Following recent news that the Cyprus Breakfast is to be rolled out across the island, hotels are making this authentic start to the day ever more appealing to holidaymakers.

One of the most representative hotels is the Louis King Jason hotel in Paphos, who have set out a well-decorated display with a wide variety of local foods and a very enthusiastic guide, Maria, explaining to customers about the dishes on display.

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The Cyprus breakfast includes cheeses (halloumi and anari), carob/carob products, grapes, herbs, honey, spoon sweets, yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, cured meats, breads and cakes.

Local businesses can now benefit directly from tourism, with hotels supporting local artisan food producers.

> Find out more on the Cyprus breakfast website

A ‘rubbish’ map

Cyprus Waste‘Waste mapping’ is something hotels can do to minimise waste, save money and plan for sustainable management of waste. It’s about identifying the sources, types and quantities of waste produced… and taking simple actions to reduce it.

During May the Travel Foundation delivered two interactive workshops to key employees of Louis Hotels in Protaras and Pafos. The staff were eager to implement the waste mapping tool, which they were quick to identify as important to their daily work. A group of ten people from each hotel were represented, including the hotel managers from all seven participating hotels.

The Cyprus Destination Partnership will be working closely with Louis Hotels throughout 2015 to support them in developing interventions to reduce waste at each of their hotel properties. The aim is to trial and improve the guide and tool on waste mapping, with insights, ideas and images from Louis Hotels, before introducing them more widely within the hotel industry in Cyprus.Chryso Demetriou - waste mapping

“The waste mapping project running in our hotel looks very interesting. It will help us to identify which department generates more waste, and find ways to reduce it. Also with this program we can give our suggestions and ideas for waste reduction and management.”

– Demetriou Chryso, Floor Supervisor, Louis Imperial Beach Hotel

The practical implementation to trial the tool will start in late May and end in October. During those months we will analyse the waste data, incorporate suggestions from the staff and create a practical and easy to use mapping tool.

Start your day the Cyprus way

Cyprus breakfast plateAnari, halloumi, pastelli or soutzoukos… if you start your day at one of the sixteen hotels in the ‘Cyprus Breakfast’ programme, you will find wonderful local foods on offer.

The hotels have trained staff to use local, authentic products in breakfasts, and they are also better able to inform guests about the gastronomic heritage of Cyprus.

The programme website is now online at www.cyprusbreakfast.eu 

Next we will be creating more information materials for hotels, working on the Cypriot character of the breakfast buffet and surveying customers to see whether their awareness of the local food heritage has increased.

Holiday Advisor experience in Cyprus resorts

Isabel on duty in the office

Isabel on duty in the office

Destinations Programme Officer Isabel Kearney and Industry Programmes Officer Jasmine Stevens Wong recently spent a week in Cyprus with TUI UK & Ireland experiencing the work of a Holiday Advisor first hand. Isabel reports back from the trip…

We arrived at Paphos airport with our Thomson and First Choice staff t-shirts carefully packed in our suitcases, having done the online Holiday Advisor training and full of trepidation about what the week would hold for us.

The itinerary that TUI put together for us was packed and we were able to visit a number of different TUI products, ranging from Gold hotels, which are traditionally for over 60s, to Holiday Villages aimed at families, and hotels just for couples. We enjoyed entertainment including Thomson’s lottery, First Choice’s Widget puppets, resident singing duos and a comedian.

Jasmine prepares for a welcome meeting

Jasmine prepares for a welcome meeting

We met very dedicated Holiday Advisors, who worked hard to meet their customer service and sales targets, and ensure their customers had a great holiday – whether it was recommending the best excursion for a couple with difficulties walking, or taking part in aqua aerobics by the pool. We did our best to help with customer enquiries, booked hire cars, took part in poolside PR and assisted with the welcome and departure meetings.

As part of the week, we had the opportunity to spend three nights in Ayia Napa with the 2wentys Holiday Advisors and saw the difference between a 2wentys welcome meeting and one for couples, as well as going on a guided bar crawl ending in a UV paint party.

You may be wondering what going to UV paint parties with 18 year olds in Ayia Napa has to do with our roles within the Travel Foundation…

The whole experience has given us a deeper understanding of mainstream tourism and the challenges Holiday Advisors and Reps face in resort, so that we can design sustainable tourism projects that are more achievable and will have a greater impact in destinations.

Seeing for ourselves the challenges and opportunities for promoting sustainability in destinations will guide us in developing focused industry training. We’d like to pass on our thanks to TUI UK & Ireland for creating this trip, which was a first for the Travel Foundation.

Cyprus celebrates “Green Monday”

Open-air market. Image: Cyprus Tourist Board

Today is Green Monday in Cyprus, the first day of Lent – approximately seven weeks before Easter. Traditionally, families go to fields to barbecue fasting foods such as vegetables and seafood (not meat), later flying kites and playing other games.

Eating less meat is becoming increasingly important. If everyone stopped eating meat or cut down considerably we would:

  1. Cut CO2 emissions and reduce global warming
  2. Reduce land degradation so that land is not destroyed beyond repair
  3. Reduce water pollution through run-off i.e. prevent hormones, animal waste and chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides from entering the water system
  4. Also, if we stopped producing vast amounts of crops to feed livestock and produced the crops for human consumption, we could end world hunger

By Julie Middleton, Industry Programmes Manager