The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced that tourism businesses and destinations are stepping up their commitment to sustainability by signing up to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI)
Main picture plastic pollution in the sea off the Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia credit Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
32 new organisations from around the world recently signed up to the iniative, including from Southeast Asia. There are now 93 companies and organisations supporting the scheme.
The Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root
causes of plastic pollution.
It enables businesses, governments and other tourism stakeholders to lead by example in the shift towards a circular economy of plastics.
“Addressing plastic pollution is essential to sustainably restart tourism, preserve destinations and contribute to climate action. We are proud to see the number of signatories growing continuously since the launch of the initiative.”Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General
Much of the plastic used in tourism is made to be thrown away and often can’t be recycled, leading to large amounts of pollution.
- Each year, an additional eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans where it is responsible for the deaths of up to one million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish.
- With 80 per cent of all tourism taking place in coastal areas , plastic from the sector can be a large contributor to this pollution.
- During peak tourist season, marine litter in the Mediterranean region was found to increase by up to 40 per cent.
- In-land and urban tourism can also contribute to marine plastic pollution, with huge amounts of plastic pollution ending up in rivers and getting carried into the oceans .
- If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
The production of more than 300 million tonnes of new plastic every year also depletes natural resources and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
- More than 99% of plastics are derived from oil, gas and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources.
- If current trends continue, plastic could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption by 2050.
- The process of extracting, transporting and refining those fossil fuels, then manufacturing plastic, pollutes billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases.
- If growth in plastic production and incineration continue, cumulative emissions by 2050 will be over 56 gigatons of CO2e, or 10–13% of the total remaining global carbon budget.
The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative aims to stop plastic ending up as pollution while also reducing the amount of new plastic that needs to be produced.
To realise this vision, tourism companies and destinations commit to eliminate the plastic items they don’t need; innovate so all plastics they do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything they use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.
New signatories from Southeast Asia were:
- Ten Knots Group, Philippines. El Nido Resorts is a group of sustainable island resorts in the El Nido and Taytay municipalities in Palawan, Philippines. “From sustainable menus, to nature-based activities low in carbon footprint and high in natural and cultural interpretation, to use of renewable materials in construction, to green design and architecture. to strong community partnerships, to guilt-free luxury in unbeatable tropical biodiversity – we are El Nido Resorts, the Philippines’ greenest.”
- Exo Travel offering tours throughout Southeast Asia. “To help us stay true to this ethos, we work with Travelife. Its certification process provides stringent guidelines for us to follow. To further guide our responsible practices, we created the EXO Foundation. Operating independently of EXO Travel, the Foundation actively supports a wide range of sustainability programs and audits EXO Travel to keep us on track with global sustainability measures.”
- Happy Trails Asia are a Southeast Asia destination management company. “Our aim is to strengthen our commitment to sustainability management and to turn it into consistent sustainable business practices in tourism. From an industry ethical perspective, we believe sustainability statements should be third party justified and certified. That’s why we chose to partner with “Travelife for Tour operator & Travel Agents”. Travelife as a certification body is formally Accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the highest global body for sustainability in tourism, supported by the United Nations.”
- Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization providing learning and capacity building for public and private stakeholders to attain excellence in sustainable tourism development and management, environmental conservation and stewardship, and sustainable consumption and production in the hospitality industry.
“Together we can make important steps towards less unnecessary single-use plastic in the world and shift towards a circular economy.”Andreas Vermohlen, Manager for Sustainability, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development, TUI Group
The full list of signatories is available at the One Planet Network website.
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