SPANISH TOURIST OFFICE UNDERLINES COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY
Following the impact of the global pandemic on the Spanish tourism sector, the Spanish Tourist Office (Turespaña) has underlined its commitment to sustainability. This includes an investment of €4 billion from the European Commission’s NextGenerationEU (NGEU) COVID-19 recovery fund directed towards sustainable tourism development.
Spain’s tourism strategy looks to address the challenges of the climate crisis, endangered biodiversity and sustainable consumption and production. Social sustainability has been outlined as a key focus helping to drive both environmental and economic ambitions. Many of Spain’s regions and cities are also showcasing their commitment with a range of initiatives:
BENIDORM ADDS 134KM OF BIKE LANES AND IMPROVES CITY’S WATER EFFICIENCY
Benidorm continues to work towards an even more efficient model of sustainability for the city. By the end of 2021, the city aims to have added 134km of bike lanes and more than 9 km of pedestrianized areas, promoting public transport and the rental of electric bicycles, among other goals. Benidorm has also developed a more effective water management system, renovating, and expanding the drinking water treatment station to supply more of its population with high quality water. This will mean that the city’s water consumption, in comparison with figures from 25 years ago, will be reduced by 18%; a significant figure considering that the population, including tourists with overnight stays, has increased by 44% since that time. It aims to lay the foundations for the transformation of Spanish tourism whilst creating a sustainable growth model that allows it to maintain its position as a leader in global tourism. www.visitbenidorm.es
VALENCIA CALCULATES CARBPN AND WATER FOOTPRINT OF TOURISM ACTIVITY
Valencia is amongst the first cities in the world to acknowledge, verify and certify the carbon and water footprint of the tourism activity in the city. Global Omnium and Visit València organised a study to measure 10 different sources of greenhouse gas emissions and how they then impact the environment. This included transportation, restaurants, activities related to tourism and water management among others. At the beginning of 2021, Valencia committed to a sustainable tourism strategy for the city in which it declares that it will achieve carbon-neutral tourism activity by 2025. This will involve Valencia converting to using renewable energies, having only electric powered transport and creating more green spaces to absorb CO2 emissions. They have also set out to develop proximity labelling which will make tourists more aware of the impact that the produce they are buying has in terms of sustainability, safety and health.https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/news-room/valencia-becomes-first-city-world-verify-and-certify-carbon-footprint-its-tourist
CAMPO DE MONTIEL JOINS EUROPEAN REWILDING NETWORK
Campo de Montiel is a region in central Spain that is made up of a variety of land types and vegetation. The area is home to iconic species such as the Iberian imperial eagle, the Iberian lynx, Montagu’s harrier and the great bustard.
Due to many threats from development and urbanisation, hunting, and mining projects, the area has joined forces with the International Foundation for Ecosystem Restoration (FIRE), a Spanish NGO on a rewilding initiative. The goal is to increase wildlife populations and create new opportunities for the residents of the area. The NGO will be supporting reforestation, creating opportunities for charities and businesses in the region and supporting wildlife rehabilitation through nature-friendly agricultural practices. https://rewildingeurope.com/news/spanish-landscape-scale-rewilding-initiative-joins-european-rewilding-network/
EXTREMADURA PROMOTES UNESCO ENVIRONMENTAL CORRIDOR
Extremadura is home to some of the most diverse and best-preserved nature in southern Europe, with more than 50 protected areas. Extremadura has recently promoted the creation of the UNESCO Environmental Corridor, made up of three Biosphere Reserves (Monfragüe, Tajo Internacional and La Siberia) and the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark. The area unites landscapes and habitats and ensures that a high level of biodiversity is maintained. The UNESCO Environmental Corridor is an ideal way of reconnecting with nature, observing birds during the day and stars at night, practicing ecotourism and geological tourism, savouring authentic gastronomy and discovering its abundant historical heritage, including the World Heritage site, the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, and the second most important pilgrimage site in Spain. https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en
LAUNCH OF EXTREMADURA GOURMET WITH THREE NEW SUSTAINABLE GASTRONOMY ROUTES
Extremadura Gourmet is an initiative in which public institutions, local producers and tourism companies collaborate to promote the iconic gastronomy of Extremadura in a sustainable way, as well as helping to preserve local customs and traditions. This cooperation has led to the creation of three sustainable gastronomy routes that offer dozens of experiences, such as guided tours, tastings, and master classes to try a variety of locally sourced produce. For example, the Extremadura Cheese Route is a collaboration of more than 110 companies, from livestock farms and cheese factories to accommodation suppliers, restaurants and shops. The new gastronomy route of one of the most iconic products of Spain, Iberian acorn-fed ham, features more than 80 local companies whilst the Extremadura Oil Route, features nearly twenty oil mills as well as restaurants, accommodation suppliers and museums. The tours are led by local experts that will explain everything needed to know whilst guests enjoy the gastronomy of Extremadura. https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en
21 SPANISH RESTAURANTS AWARDED MICHELIN GREEN STAR
Spain is already well established as a visitor destination for its excellent gastronomy but now 21 restaurants in Spain have been awarded a MICHELIN green star as part of the 2021 guide, thanks to the sustainable efforts being made within this sector. This title recognises restaurants and chefs that are at the forefront of their industry and are making an outstanding effort to make their practices sustainable, advocating for a better world.
Ethical and environmental standards are made top priorities when creating their dishes and they work closely with farmers and fishermen to source local produce. They often use innovative methods to assure that plastics and non-recyclable materials are removed from their supply chains and make environmental and ethical commitments to assure that they contribute to local or national charitable and educational projects. Guide.michelin.com
THE SPANISH ISLANDS
BALEARIC ISLANDS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM TAX
One of the most important measures adopted by the Balearic Islands to support sustainability has been the levying of a tax for overnight tourist stays. This ‘sustainable tourism tax’ has been charged to guests overnighting in tourism establishments since July 2016 with funds being directed towards sustainable tourism initiatives. The purpose of the tax is to mitigate tourism’s negative impact and to redistribute some of its economic benefits across the whole of society with six key funding pillars which include: the environment, sustainable tourism, historic heritage, scientific research, training and employment and social housing (which includes the acquisition and rehabilitation of homes for social housing with specific energy sustainability criteria). Since 2016, over €261 million has been raised and invested into 165 projects. The website has been set up to provide residents and visitors with details of how the funds are distributed and the progress of specific projects. http://www.illessostenibles.travel/en/home-en
PALMA DEVELOPS APP TO CONTROL TOURISM FLOW DURING PEAK SEASONS
The city of Palma in Mallorca has developed an app to successfully control the tourism flow of visitors during peak periods. The app was originally used to manage the flow of cruise passengers around the city and links to heat sensors that monitor the amount of human activity in specific tourism zones. During the pandemic, this was adapted to control the capacity on Palma’s surrounding beaches. In real time, the app displayed which beaches were crowded so that visitors and residents could make informed decisions and choose another option. The app was available for visitors via android and IOS and called “SafeBeaches”. In 2022 and beyond, the Palma tourism authorities look to develop this concept further, incorporating additional AI and data to monitor and successfully manage tourism flow in the city. This technology forms part of a wider tourism strategy which promotes geographical and seasonal diversification. https://www.visitpalma.com/en/
FORMENTERA DEVELOPS UNDERWATER CARTOGRAPHY TO PROTECT MARINE BIOLOGY
The smallest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera, is one of the Mediterranean’s best kept secrets. The clarity of Formentera’s turquoise waters is thanks to a high concentration of Neptune seagrass, Posidonia Oceanica, which is found growing around the Balearic Islands and believed to be one of the most important sources of oxygen in these coastal waters, creating a unique marine biodiversity. So much so that in 1999, the Posidonia was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
In 2017, a SavePosidonia initiative was launched to raise awareness of the value of the Posidonia meadows. Subsequently, the island launched a campaign to sponsor 1m2 of Posidonia for €1 which to date has protected over 250,000 m2 of the seagrass.
In 2021 an underwater cartography of the Posidonia Oceanica was initiated. Once completed, the island plans to launch a new app, providing details of permitted anchoring areas (and indicating no-anchorage zones for boating vessels to prevent damage). Projects – Formentera (saveposidoniaproject.org)
THE MARINE AREA BETWEEN LA GOMERA AND TENERIFE NAMED EUROPE’S FIRST WHALE HERITAGE SITE.
The Whale Heritage Site between La Gomera and Tenerife, a designated Special Area of Conservation, has become a thriving whale watching destination given its unique population of pilot whales among a highly diverse variety of other whales and dolphin species. The area has received special recognition of the incredible work being done by a range of engaged stakeholders. The collective efforts of non-profit organisations, government departments, whale watching operators, the scientific community among many others, is an example of how collaboration and cooperation helps to make great strides towards the unified goal of protecting the whales, dolphins, and their habitats. https://whaleheritagesites.org/tenerife-la-gomera/
For more information on Spain as a visitor destination, please visit www.spain.info