05 Aug 2020
Tourism, Sustainability and Environment.
The aim of sustainable tourism is that the only trace that the visitor can leave behind is that of his own footwear.
Tourism is an engine of territorial development for the tourist destination of Catalonia. The exceptional natural and cultural treasures have made it the world’s main tourist attraction. In the last decade, the Mediterranean coasts have welcomed almost two hundred million tourists per year, representing 30% of world tourism. Sustainable tourism has become a component that guarantees balanced and continuous growth in the territory.
In recent years, the tourism sector has made clear the need for a change of model that incorporates sustainability criteria into the tourism offer and destinations. A sustainable tourism model is one that makes the development of the sector compatible with the respect and preservation of natural, cultural and social spaces. This model considers tourist activity as an opportunity for the revaluation of the territory and for the conservation of resources. The qualitative aspects are prioritized over the quantitative ones. The development of sustainable tourism must also bring about a significant degree of satisfaction for tourists and visitors to the tourist destination, since it must represent a significant experience that makes them more aware of the need to respect the environment and encourage sustainable tourism practices.
Lately there has been an increase in the demand for new destinations and tourist typologies different from the classic sun and beach ones, and other brands such as Ecotourism, Agrotourism or Rural Tourism have been recognized. This is tourism in natural areas in a program that is complemented by other activities such as hiking, cycling, gastronomy or culture. This is the essential part of the tourist product that they encourage to create complementary proposals to diversify the offer.
Catalonia’s tourist tradition dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Later, the massive growth of both supply and demand in some parts of the coast during the 1960s, and the exceptional growth that followed in the wake of the 1992 Olympics, put Barcelona and Catalonia on the international map. Since then there has been a weighted growth that has evolved both in the temporality of arrival of tourists and visitors and in its tourist proposal that has been derived towards sustainability and environmental respect that has generated the demand.
One of the individual and family aspects that will have the greatest impact will be the inconvenience of using the private car which, more than the increase in cost, should dissuade its use for tourism. Some European cities are applying limitations and additional measures to encourage the use of public transport. Government efforts to reduce congestion and pollution from road transport will lead to an increase in travel by other means of public transport.
When we talk about sustainable tourism, we are referring to all those tourist activities where the priority is respect for the natural, cultural and social environment, and which are aimed at defining the values of a certain community. With this type of tourism, a positive exchange of experiences between visitors and residents is evident, establishing a fair and equitable relationship in terms of the benefits that this activity can generate. From the territory, numerous offers and proposals have been generated that allow to Connect with nature and to carry out activities in group or in family. Catalonia has the highest concentration of tourist activities registered with EMAS in Spain and the European Union, as well as many others with the European ecological label (Ecolabel) and the Environmental Quality Guarantee Distinctive of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia). In 2001 Barcelona became the first urban destination to obtain Biosphere certification for its commitment to sustainability in the tourism sector and in 2015 Catalonia received the first accreditation as an integral responsible tourism destination, also under the Biosphere seal awarded by the Tourism Institute, establishing criteria for sustainable behaviour in the international tourism business.
The final objective of this sustainable tourism is that the only trace that the visitor can leave in his path, is only that of his own footwear and, as such, it must be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.