Green tourism-2

Ecotourism: Spain VS Italy

Green tourism or sustainable tourism is an important aspect that should be explored when comparing the economic and sustainable development of two countries. The belief that we do not have to wait for organizations to organize mandatory cleanups or green taxes is fundamental for the economic development of one nation.

Spain

Some relevant aspects are the increased awareness of Spanish citizens of water pollution and their active participation in beach clean ups. Spain is a country that is very proactive in protecting the environment with their beach cleanups. For example, an organization called Clean Beach Initiative was able to collect more than 1 tonne of trash from the beaches of Barcelona in 2019 and 2021. This organization incentivizes locals to clean their public and private beaches by giving out awards and being active on social media with hashtags like #NoMorePlastic and #beachcleanup. This organization encourages communities from all over Spain to follow suit by using these types of tools on social media, having their own website where they post interesting facts and organizing weekly beach cleanups in Barcelona.  

Apart from cleanups, one other way organizations incentivize beach cleanups is by offering support with your own events. CBI has helped companies to include environmentally friendly and team building activities in their events. They have incorporated projects targeted for adults and separately for teens and kids. The activities that CBI has organized have also been shared on their social media sites with pictures and videos. This has the aim to help newcomers in understanding structural connections, for example how Earth pollution is tied to wild marine animals’ extinction. CBI also shows that there are very playful ways of getting kids engaged.

However, for a country like Spain that is exposed to a huge coastline and other bodies of water, micro plastics are not only a problem in oceans but also in lakes and rivers. US Scientists have found a significant number of micro plastic particles in water bottles. In their experiment, 22 samples of water from reusable and non-reusable PET bottles were analyzed, as well as 3 from drinking cartons and 9 from glass bottles. Most particles were found in water contained in PET reusable bottles – on average 120 particles per liter. The highest detected concentration was over 200 particles per liter. Due to the nature of the detected plastic – mostly polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) – the researchers believe that they mostly come from the bottle case, as well as the bottle cap. 

However, researchers don´t believe that the water contained large amounts of micro plastic before being poured into the bottles. Once inside, the interior of the bottle wears out and micro plastics seep into the water. Considering these findings, it is not surprising that micro plastics can also be found in water sold in glass bottles. This kind of easily accessible information and its ready availability encourage readers and Spanish citizens to join their beach cleanups. 

Lastly, in many case studies surveys have been conducted to enable the comparison of beach cleanliness and beach litter composition. Comparisons have been made between one coastal town’s area and other areas in the Mediterranean. Findings indicate increased dirtiness in bathing beaches where activities such as sitting, sunbathing, picnicking, playing in the sand and swimming have been correlated with specific type of litter found. This suggests that beach-goers contribute significantly to marine and coastal litter. Case studies like these raise awareness on environmental change and encourage public beach structures to adapt by providing trash cans and areas to dispose of litter.

Italy

As for Italy, one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe, we can look at the case study of Sardinia. A popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean Sea, this Italian island is well known for its picturesque beaches and unique environment. As a result, Sardinia both thrives and struggles with a large number of tourists that turn to its beaches every summerMany tourists that visit are not aware of the damage they may cause when visiting this island, and as such, some of the island’s natural landmarks have been damaged by tourists over the years. Of course, the simple solution would be to stop tourists so that the ecosystems can recover on their own. However, due to its history and poor economic position, Sardinia relies on seasonal tourists to keep the hospitality sector alive.

A notorious tourist attraction are Sardinia’s white sand beaches. Over the course of many years, as tourists took home bottles of sand or shells, these beaches were ruined and their ecological function became unbalanced. As a result, the Sardinian government implemented laws that promote ecotourism by banning tourists from taking natural resources from these beaches, going as far as shutting down some beaches to the public entirely. Airport employees were trained to recognize beach materials in x-ray machines and to fine any tourist caught attempting to smuggle these materials from the island. Fines range between 500-3000 euros, with those attempting to smuggle large amounts facing potential time in jail. 

In addition to its beaches, many tourists turn to water activities including scuba diving. With improper caution and care, tourists cause direct damage to present corals, or facilitate the entry of harmful bacteria into the coral’s proximity. As such, many diving schools have been collaborating with environmental foundations such as Blue Ocean Watch with the aim to restore Sardinia’s iconic red coral. Red coral restoration laws have also been implemented by the island’s local government, as tourism has caused great amounts of damage to this highly endangered coral species. By collaborating with diving schools and excursion groups, education amongst tourists is promoted. As such, they do not only help in the project but are also more aware of their impact on the ocean when engaging in water activities. This has encouraged Sardinia’s adoption of ecotourism. 

Through these methods discussed Sardinia continues to be able to take advantage of its tourist market, while simultaneously protecting its unique ecosystem. The island’s locals have recognised that for tourism to continue to flourish, the island’s natural landmarks that attract tourists need to continue to flourish as well. 

By Elena Molinari and Lina Nikolovska

Sources:

https://www.blueocean.watch/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/13/sardinias-seasonal-crimewave-of-sand-thieves

https://www.volunteeringsolutions.com/spain/beach-cleaning-program-bilbao

https://www.oceanrecov.org/global-ocean-alert-system/case-studies.html

https://ftnnews.com/…/37980-this-hotel-chain-has…

https://www.iberostar.com/…/iberostar-is-removing-all…/

https://www.iberostar.com/…/unstoppable-wave-change…/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/waste-management/vol/69/suppl/C

https://www.oceanrecov.org/global-ocean-alert-system/case-studies.html

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