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Mediterranean Tourism Body: Fires Wake-up Call, Concrete Solutions Needed

Photo source: Hellenic Fire Service

Photo source: Hellenic Fire Service

In the aftermath of hundreds of fires breaking out last week in Greece, Italy, Albania, Morocco, North Macedonia, Turkey and Lebanon, the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation (MTF) is calling on authorities to extend support with concrete action and without bureaucratic delays.

The MTF is calling on the global community to push actions that address climate change and environmental protection to the top of the world agenda after a UN report disclosed by AFP found that the Mediterranean will be a “climate change hotspot” in the years ahead.

“We need more action in the form of concrete solutions to be driven by both public and private entities. What is happening around us is a wake-up call for all of us,” the organization said in a statement this week.

In this direction, the foundation is appealing to the decision-makers to promote sustainable tourism actions that will bring back stability to impacted countries and restore the environment.

“Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, some have lost their lives fighting the wildfires and the tourism sector in these areas have been further put on their knees as the Covid-19 pandemic left its toll on business over the past year,” said the federation, adding that the severe scale of the fires has led to high levels of air pollution over the Eastern Mediterranean. “Persistent exposure to particulate matter pollution is associated with cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer,” it notes.

Photo source: Mediterranean Tourism Foundation

Photo source: Mediterranean Tourism Foundation

Indicatively, according to the AFP citing the UN draft report, warming across the Mediterranean region will be about 20 percent higher than global averages in the decades to come.

The report paints a bleak picture for the region forecasting devastating heatwaves, water shortages, drought and fires supercharged by rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity and risks to food production.

According to the same report, the Mediterranean ‘climate change hotspot’ will see temperatures rise 20 percent higher than the global average.

In view of the findings and last week’s fires in the Mediterranean, the MTF goes on to stress that the environment is “our joint responsibility wherever we are, whatever we do” and appeals to all Mediterranean countries to “embrace sustainable tourism initiatives as a real weapon for conservation and protection of our unique blue and green environment”.

Non-profit and non-governmental, the MTF was established by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) in 2013 with the goal of transforming the Mediterranean into an area of peace, cooperation and prosperity by investing and promoting sustainable tourism growth through public and private partnerships. Greece became an honorary member under former tourism minister Elena Kountoura’s term.

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