The UK and Tunisia have launched a Sustainable Tourism Charter to encourage more environmentally friendly practices among visitors and travel industry workers in the destination.
The charter has been developed by the country’s Ministry of Tourism, the Municipality of Hammamet, ABTA, TUI, the British Embassy in Tunisia and the Federation of Tunisian Hoteliers.
It was launched in Hammamet on Tuesday morning by the British Ambassador to Tunisia Louise de Sousa, Minister of Tourism Rene Trabelsi and ABTA’s senior manager for destinations and sustainability Clare Jenkinson.
The charter should lead to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly tourism industry in Tunisia, responding to the increasing priority that British and other foreign tourists are placing on the environment when making their holiday choices, the organisers say.
According to WWF, nearly 600,000 tonnes of plastic is dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every year, costing the Tunisian economy $20million due to the impact on tourism, fishing and navigation. Goals set by the charter are intended to help address this issue.
The charter aims to ensure the discontinuation of disposable plastic cups and cutlery in hotels by March 2020 and end the use of plastic drinking straws by December 2019.
It also pledges more responsible disposal and recycling of waste, with tour operators encouraging hotels to attain a Global Sustainable Tourism certificate by December 2020 and the production of a work plan for the Hammamet Municipal Council and central government by March 2020.
Finally, the charter will support the local economy with more opportunities for local and regional artisans to sell goods to guests as well as strengthened promotion of local food in hotel restaurants by March 2020.
Speaking following the signing, Ambassador de Sousa, said: “I am pleased to launch this project and hope it will be rolled out to other areas of Tunisia, helping preserve the beauty of this country.
“This will not only appeal to British tourists but also provide economic benefits for Tunisian businesses.
“The reduction of plastic waste is a crucial element of the UK government’s work to protect the world’s oceans and ensure we leave a cleaner planet to the next generation.”
ABTA’s Clare Jenkinson added: “This charter to improve waste management, reduce single use plastics and support the local economy in Tunisian tourist destinations is an excellent example of what can be achieved by working together and setting commitments.”