The global travel trends and statistics are good and bad news for the macro economic development of the tourism industry and their environmental impacts.
The good news is that the percentage of people travelling around the world is expected to grow significantly, especially from huge forthcoming markets of populations in China and Africa who's standard of living is rising. The bad news is that the environmental pollution from travelling (primarily through the use of air travel and secondary through the non-responsible consumption of energy, water, food and garbage creation) adds on and is a significant percent of the total CO2 emitted in the atmosphere causing an incredible climatic change. We will see in the next years a lot of dramatic changes in our environment and also the first climatic migration. The extreme weather has become globally a brutal reality causing unbelievable human loss and drastic changes in landscape.
Especially in the Mediterranean and in our country Greece, the scientists predict and announce the following for the immediate years:
- an increase of 2% in the temperature of the surface of sea water,
- a raise of the sea level that will slowly make coastal line to sunk and vanish,
- the extinction of some fish species caused by the over fishing of our seas and also due to luck of legislation for the marine protection and bio parks.
It sounds dramatic and it actually is. Even our blessed “meltemi” wind that cools us during the hot summer days, is not sure due to the climatic change and raise of temperatures if it’s going to be unaffected or not! The reality is that we are not going to have any more tourists in Greece and the Cyclades if we don’t have any water resources due to the drought, or if there is no enough food to grow –even for ourselves!!
A new reality model needs to be immediately adopt by travelers and the tourism industry providers – the responsible traveler model and the sustainable tourism growth model respectively, seem to be the win-win situation for a society prosperity and is no longer considered a voluntary approach for individuals and professionals but a necessity for the survival of our species.
The strategic planning
Greeks need to adopt to an environmental friendly mentality and this involves a lot of work. We need to focus not only at the micro but also at the macro level. To manage to keep our businesses operating tomorrow and survive the economic crisis is important as it is also to maintain viable in the next years and to give to our children and the generations to come the possibility of drinkable water, a clean sea with fish in it and a natural landscape.
Actually we would need to start from scratch –from educating children in nursery school, elementary, gymnasium, lyceum, parents, industry professionals, the seasonal personnel involved and providing the tourism services and also the traveller himself and how he comprehends responsible consumption and acts. Every single one of us needs to change mentality and get a proper systematic education and training on environmental protection and good practices in every day live and in the tourism industry services consequently.
In local level, this systematic training can take place parallel to schools, to individuals/households and to bodies such as the Chambers of Commerce, the Hoteliers Associations and the Agricultural producers, as well as other local associations. Creating awareness and educating the local community in all levels on water and energy resources responsible consumption, the long term money saving and environment protection from the use of alternative forms of energy eg. the sun, the air and the sea and recycling the garbage (reusing, repairing and reselling).They consequently will need to sit down together in a table and set common goals, common grounds and policies and start collaborating regarding their mutual and society benefits. It is important that the local businesses/tourism professionals insert the local and traditional products in the tourism industry chain by either re-selling them directly or by offering improved gastronomic experiences to their guests. Either way they provide a cultural experience to the travellers.
Also it’s important that we take measurements for the protection and preservation of the environment (coastline, wetlands, wildlife, flora and fauna) and of our cultural heritage. We are very lucky to have an observatory of the environment on Paros and congrats to the people and the associations that have been pioneers by launching it.
Least important is that we must provide and create access and the infrastructure facilities for people of special needs to visit our island, our beaches, our museums and the most important sites of Paros. How many beaches on Paros and hotels are accessible to disabled people? I don’t have any figures unfortunately but I would say a very small percentage.
Having planned for all the above is essential – then we can all get together again and think of branding and promoting our island and our country as a sustainable and friendly destination.
Share your photos and videos from your holidays on Paros or any valuable tip for future travellers. I look forward to hear your opinion and experiences of your travels to Paros and your ideas about becoming a sustainable island. Send your posts at the e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org