Tourism: which way to more sustainability?
After years of Covid restrictions people are eager to travel again. Spain has registered a record high in the number of fights and holiday destinations such as Málaga, Valencia, Palma and Ibiza are more popular than they have been for a long time. In Germany, the number of overnight stays by foreign guests rose by almost 20 percent in May against the previous year. Commentators warn of the environmental and social consequences and propose solutions.
Sun and sand a lifeline in the crisis, but ...
La Vanguardia looks at the less favourable aspects of Spain’s record-breaking summer:
“No sooner has the health crisis been overcome than the sun and sand are boosting the economy again. ... On the downside, the low productivity and the social and ecological impact weigh heavily, especially in times of climate crisis. Wages in low-cost tourist destinations are below the average Spanish wage and the school dropout rate is particularly high. Nevertheless, we should not denigrate a model that has saved the Spanish economy in times of crisis. Instead, it would be more productive to definitively focus on offering higher quality. Sun and sand need not be synonymous with a low-cost economy if given the necessary impetus.”
Tear down illegal buildings and toughen controls
Kathimerini calls for the government to impose tougher restrictions:
“The ‘revolt’ [the towel protest] of the last few weeks against the violations seen on many beaches follows an earlier effort against illegal construction by owners of beach bars, especially on popular islands. ... The success of the movement is a welcome and hopeful sign for a healthier tourist sector. The government for its part should respond to these latest steps in the right direction with more forceful implementation of existing rules, expeditiously proceeding with tearing down illegal constructions, increasing inspections and issuing hefty penalties to the violators. ... A healthier tourism model that is better regulated will also be more sustainable.”
Make food wasters pay up
Sustainable ideas are taking hold in the industry, journalist Laci Szabó observes in Új Szó:
“I even spotted a sign in a hotel that said: ‘If a lot of food is left on your plate after the meal, a fine of 15 euros per person will be charged to your room. Food wasters shall pay up!’ ... As a result, there was hardly anything left on the plates that the waiters cleared. This is one of the best solutions so far. Anyone who has stayed in an all-inclusive hotel recently knows what I am talking about: the tables of many guests tables are covered in food and when they leave at least half of it is left behind as waste. Such a sanction could put an end to this behaviour.”
Quality over quantity
Economists Andreas Charalambous and Omiros Pissaridis describe the situation in Cyprus in an article in the Cyprus Mail:
“The first challenge concerns the need to switch from mass to quality tourism. Mass tourism contributes to a lesser extent to local economies, requires greater use of resources, places a disproportionate burden on the environment, while crowding out quality, and more profitable, tourism. Already, a number of European cities have taken specific actions to limit mass tourism. Venice has banned cruise ships from docking in the city centre since 2019, followed by Bruges, Dubrovnik, Dublin and Barcelona. Recently, Amsterdam followed suit.”