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Sustainable tourism routes, interview with Turinea

“Berdeago, European sustainability association” works to show the way towards sustainable models in all sectors. As it couldn’t be otherwise, tourism cannot be left out of this commitment as one of the economic pillars. Therefore, Turinea, which is their proposal for this tourism sector, tries to convey the values, commitment, and responsibility that should govern and lead us towards a sustainability model in tourism.

Today we speak with those responsible for this initiative to learn more about this proposal.

What is Turinea? How did this initiative come about and why?

It is a Web Portal for the promotion of tourist destinations through its thematic routes, that is, routes that revolve around a specific theme as a common thread.

We understand these routes as an opportunity for local development as long as they are properly managed. A requirement for this is that they have sufficient visibility and are known by the potential visitor.

For this, we have divided the routes into 9 categories: cultural, gastronomic, wine tourism, nature tourism, health, religious, rural, industrial tourism and active tourism.

This initiative arose in 2011 to meet this need to publicize the wide range of thematic routes. Currently, we collect 500 distributed among those categories.

Who is Turinea for? What kind of tourist offer can we find in Turinea?

Turinea is for anyone who is planning a getaway or visit to a place that helps them discover. The routes are design to discover.

We offer content so that everyone can plan their visit within the aforementioned categories. There are more local routes, other regional and even international ones. Routes to travel on foot or by bicycle, car, horse …

Can we make reservations through Turinea?

At Turinea we provide information about the routes and the services associated with them, but we do not mediate in the reservation. In any case, we provide the contact details of the services and the managers of each route.

What is the TurineaCard? What does it consist of and how can we obtain it?

It is a card that is generated through our website and that you can download as an image on your mobile device. You will only have to show it in those participating establishments to be able to access the advantages that each one offers and that are not only economic discounts.

From the point of view of hotel establishments, how attractive could the Turinea initiative have? Why should they join it and how can they?

The establishments can be joined through our website or by contacting us directly. The main advantage is being in an environment that will offer them visibility to those who want to make the route and require services such as accommodation, restaurants, activities, guided visits, etc.

Turinea is one of the initiatives that emerged from “Berdeago, European Association for Sustainability”. How does the Turinea proposal combine sustainability with tourism? Is sustainability in this sector really in the tourism proposal offered or in the commitment and responsibility of travelers?

First, promoting local development. We understand sustainable tourism as an “environmentally correct, economically viable and socially committed” activity. Without a fair distribution of the economic return of this activity on the agents that operate in the territory, it is difficult to achieve this social commitment. Of course, always starting from the premise that these are environmentally correct activities.

On the other hand, there is the commitment of the agents in the territory to offer their services based on the above requirements. For example, using local products and raw materials, with adequate employment contracts, measuring their environmental footprint and committing to reduce it …

As for visitors, we must ensure that they feel attracted by this commitment and in turn become active participants in it.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the pillars of the Spanish economy. But is today a truly sustainable model? What transformations do you think this sector should undertake to turn it into a model of sustainable activity, ecotourism and with a type of committed and responsible traveler?

The current mass tourism model is destined to disappear because it is unsustainable, because it generates tensions precisely in the three pillars mentioned above: the environment, social commitment and the economy. Therefore, we are already late in its conversion to ensure that it is an activity that continues to contribute to our GDP but in a fair and committed way. A whole basic rethinking must be carried out, redistributing between territories, diversifying supply, discovering opportunities outside the massification, and always full respect for heritage, both natural and cultural, both tangible and intangible.

From improving the energy efficiency of accommodation, of tourist resources in general to rethinking the transport model, especially within the destination itself. From the real promotion of local products that are also part of its culture and landscape. Establish measures to compensate for the impact that in turn have a positive impact on the activity itself … There are many measures that can be carried out and that must go through a well-defined strategy. For this reason, what we demand is the start-up of “Sustainable Tourism Tables” made up of all the agents involved in a specific destination: public administration and local private agents as well as organizations committed to their environment.

Is there a real concern in public institutions, governments and other actors involved in developing a tourism model that protects and enhances cultural and territorial spaces under criteria and as established by the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism? Or, does the tourist party, sun, beach and beach bar suppose greater interest and greater profitability for the sector?

Undoubtedly, the cow of mass tourism continues to be “milked”. There is concern about changing this model because it is aware that it will run out and, as soon as it does, if there is no alternative in place, it will be a real problem. But what is evident is that the steps that are being taken are rather incipient and timid. A real “hit on the table” is missing to move all the tiles on the board and wake up at once from that anesthesia that continues to give continuity to the current model. The situation that we are experiencing due to the global pandemic should be an opportunity to give that turn in a decisive way. There are formulas as long as there is true will beyond the sustainable dialectic.

As those responsible for Turinea have told us, there is no doubt that they are working to contribute their grain of sand to the long-awaited transformation of the economic and social model. Whatever the sector, as in this case in the tourism sector, it is essential to achieve a society with a commitment and responsibility based on the sustainability of the system. A model that respects the culture, the environment and its people, where the relationship between tourist and resident achieves mutual benefit and enriches the lives of both.