Destination Check: Current State of Tourism Sustainability in Cyprus

In our Destination Check series we take a look at the current state of sustainability in tourist destinations around the world. In recent years, Cyprus made headlines for taking bold actions to enhance its sustainability as a destination, by implementing a mandatory sustainability standard for its hotels – a world’s first.

Part of a wider program of reforms initiated by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), this small island in the Mediterranean now requires every hotel to take action to protect the environment and support its local community.

Together with the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) and supported by UK charity the Travel Foundation, Cyprus is on a mission to position itself as a leading destination for sustainable tourism, which will benefit its competitiveness and reputation.

Here’s how the sustainability program works:

Hotel Sustainability Criteria in Cyprus

The sustainability standards for hotels cover a range of criteria including:

  • Reducing energy, water and chemical use, and the amount of waste generated;
  • Training staff and having a “green team” responsible for sustainability issues;
  • Sourcing local goods and services where possible;
  • Promoting authentic Cypriot food and entertainment;
  • Supporting local charities and community initiatives.

The CTO’s inspectors will check sustainability compliance as part of their general assessment of quality standards. As the sustainability performance of hotels improves over time, the standards will be reviewed and revised, in order to move the Cypriot hotel sector towards best practice in the long-term.

Salli Felton, Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation finds it “fantastic to support Cyprus with this world-first. Their commitment to implementing minimum sustainability standards for hotels has created a national framework that will ensure sustainability is business as usual rather than an optional extra. This step change will see Cyprus leading the way where other destinations are sure to follow.”

Learn more about Salli Felton in her interview on


Launched in 2014, this initiative got our attention for making hotel sustainability performance a quality issue for the destination. Cyprus seems to have understood that this requires concerted action and leadership from the national tourism organization, rather than relying on ad-hoc investments and activities by individual tourism businesses.

If Cyprus really manages to position itself as a sustainable destination (something which requires commitment over many years and one way or another needs to address pollution by water and air transportation), then all the players involved will benefit. Environmentally conscious travellers tend to stay longer, spend more, and are more interested in local customs and cultures. We are curious to see how this works out.

An earlier version of this post was published on

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The Editorial Team

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