Package holiday powerhouse Tui has joined a new initiative to get rid of plastic waste in tourism.
The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI) brings together accommodation providers, tour operators, online platforms, waste managers, and supporting organizations to step up their commitment to sustainability. In particular, the GTPI aims to address the increased demand for disposable plastic items due to COVID-19.
The initiative is supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). As well as Tui Group, other major signatories include AC Hotels by Marriott, Palladium Hotel Group, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Hostelling International, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, and Visit Valencia. These new additions bring the total number of signatories up to 93 companies and organizations. UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said in a recent press release, “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.”
Representing 10% of global GDP, tourism is one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. International tourism decreased by an estimated 58-78% during 2020. This put 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk. However, according to the UNWTO, the travel industry’s focus on health and hygiene, if not properly managed, will have a detrimental environmental impact. This is due to additional waste generation, water consumption, and pollution from chemicals usage.
Plastic Free Package Deals
The GTPI requires tourism organizations to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025. These include the elimination of unnecessary plastic packaging and items, and moving from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives. Another goal is for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Tui Group sustainability manager Andreas Vermohlen said, “Together we can make important steps towards less unnecessary single-use plastic in the world and shift towards a circular economy.” To date, a total of 140 million pieces were removed from Tui Group hotels, cruise ships, airlines destinations, and offices. The aim was to raise this to 250 million pieces by 2020.