Climate change and tourism industry: reducing carbon footprint, resources use and pollution

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Sustainable tourism is not just about sustaining the landscape, the wildlife and the people and culture of an area, it about being economically sustainable too. The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected areas is a good tool to enhance sustainable tourism and it has a higher influence on business performance through the Charter Part II Sustainable Partners and Charter Part III.

A survey developed by EUROPARC-Spain about the impact of the Charter Part II shows that businesses consider that the Charter helped them to enhance closer relations with the Protected Area and other committed businesses. The Charter Partner Businesses have implemented a huge amount of environmental management actions with relevant impact in energy saving, water saving, conservation, etc.

When measured, the positive impact can be shown – the efforts to become sustainable tourism businesses can increase considerably the initial costs of tourism businesses but finally, these efforts generate high costs saving and higher quality of their services.

Main challenges for businesses, parks and local authorities

The biggest challenge is to achieve a real political commitment to sustainability at all levels (national, regional, local…) that allows institutions to provide proper support to sustainable destinations and sustainable tourism businesses (legal framework, tax benefits, access to funds for innovation, etc). Therefore, it is essential to work shoulder by shoulder with political institutions, as it is to work to enhance the perception of the multiple benefits of a sustainable tourism. Hence, Parks, Businesses and Public authorities, must make efforts to educate and raise awareness of local community, tourists, and society in general.

The main challenge for committed businesses – and destinations – is to reach out the responsible markets that praise this environmental behavior, in order to turn the efforts into a higher economic added value, that can lead to business growth and profitability.

On the other hand, the main challenge for Charter Parks is to have enough available human and economic resources to support these businesses and their networks (meetings, training activities, information materials, promotional activities, etc.). 

A workshops, moderated by Amanda Guzmán, from the Ecotourism Club in Spain, took place in Portugal. There, 3 case studies were presented.

Download the Workshop Introduction and learn more about each case study shared:

Case Study 1: The Nature Regional Park of Livradois-Forez Network. By Caroline Le Roy, Nature Regional Park Livradois-Forez (FR)

The Livradois-Forez has a group of around 50 sustainable business partners working towards sustainability. Caroline presented how they are activating the Group and some of the activities they are moving forward, such as the Zero waste holidays, the Mobility challenge (promotion of alternative transports for travellers through partnerships); Corporate Social Responsibility to promote Local food production.

Case Study 2: Spain’s Secret Sierra. By Angel Salvador, Posada Alajar (ES)

Posada Alajar, a bed & breakfast in Spain, has implemented several measures to reduce water and energy consumption. Angel shared some of the main measures and activities taken.