Another tourism based on the protection of resources and the well-being of residents is possible

That tourism is one of the main drivers of GDP in Spain -and a source of employment- is proven data.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
21 March 2023 Tuesday 22:44
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Another tourism based on the protection of resources and the well-being of residents is possible

That tourism is one of the main drivers of GDP in Spain -and a source of employment- is proven data. Specifically, 12.4% of the national GDP depends on the sector according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) corresponding to the year 2019. In other words, an economic contribution of around 153,500 million euros to the Spanish economy in that year. . But the figure remains almost an anecdote when contrasted with that of the Balearic Islands, a community in which this sector accounted for 45.1% of GDP.

It is easy to think that, if practically half of its wealth passes through a new filter that promotes circularity, this vision can be extended to other sectors and thus move -globally and efficiently- to that dream model that is the circular economy. That filter is the new Law for Circularity and Sustainability in Tourism. A law that is postulated not only as a framework for tourism, but as a beacon for the rest of the economy of the archipelago.

Leaving behind a tourism model based only on the exploitation of resources (extract-produce-use-dispose) and not on their protection in the short, medium and long term is the main objective. In it, the concept of sustainable tourism is given one more turn, defined by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as one that "takes fully into account the current and future economic, social and environmental repercussions to meet the needs of visitors , the industry, the environment and the host communities”.

Specifically, as the BOE outlines, sustainable tourism, in addition to being a creator of wealth, has to contribute to conserving and protecting the resources of the territory -wildlife, flora, biodiversity and ecosystems-, but it also has to protect the well-being of people residing in the Balearic Islands, generating quality work and supporting local economies.

The sustainable tourism promoted by Decree-Law 3/2022 is the one that leads social justice, quality work, equality, economic development and environmental integrity. The objective: to become a competitive and viable destination. A vision that, through this law, will turn the community into the most advantaged student. The reason? Tourism is in a very favorable position to contribute to the systemic transition towards the circular economy, as underlined by the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy -called Circular Spain 2030-, which explicitly recognizes the potential importance of circularity in tourism.

An example of how crucial it is to reverse linearity can be seen in emissions. According to the latest study by the UNWTO and the International Transport Forum (ITF), CO2 emissions from tourism grew by at least 60% between 2005 and 2016. Unless decarbonisation accelerates, CO2 emissions from the sector could increase by a 25% or more by 2030, compared to 2016. A threat that hits where it hurts the most in the Balearic Islands: a global temperature increase of more than 1.5°C would greatly affect Posidonia oceanica, a plant that contributes to the emblematic image of the coast of the Balearic Islands. It is just one example, but it expresses well the urgency with which the law aspires to establish new, more ambitious measures for the sustainability and circularity of its tourism.

To this end, a series of mandatory initiatives will be imposed that will involve almost the entire tourism value chain, such as the replacement of fuel-oil boilers with more sustainable alternatives, thus eliminating one of the main sources of greenhouse gases from the tourist accommodation sector. Also carrying out an evaluation of the management of resources and waste generated.

Another of the most relevant measures of the new law contemplates blocking the growth of tourist places on all the islands for four years, both in vacation rentals and in any other type of accommodation. With this regulation, the Balearic Islands want to reformulate themselves as a destination where not only tourists matter, but also each one of the people who live there.