As citizens, communities and countries around the world are becoming more and more aware of their environments, we as a global community are seeing more responses and efforts that recognise that we want and need to take better care of our planet. Most, if not all, aspects of life have an effect on the well-being of our environment, many industries, public and private, are now trying to reduce the damage that we leave on our planet.
From improved infrastructures such as the expansion of recycling-bin systems to the ever-growing availability of electric cars. Every industry has their chance to make a difference, and that definitely doesn’t exclude the tourism industry.
Ecotourism is the tourism industry’s response to being responsible for the planet with live on and the communities we live with. According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), the definition of ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people” and this branch of tourism has hopes of “mainstreaming sustainability”
Ecotourism and sustainability in Italy?
Ecotourism aims to create positive changes in the world, especially those based around contributing to environmental, social, cultural and economic aspects of destinations and local communities. It further aims to protect the natural and cultural heritage of locations. Considering that, Italy has 54 UNESCO heritage sites, the most in the world, it seems as if ecotourism is needed in the country to preserve these locations for future generations.
Ecobnb, an online travel community for sustainable tourism, explains some of the benefits that Italy has seen through sustainable and ecotourism.
Firstly, economic advantages have been seen in Italy through sustainable tourism which has provided a boom in job opportunities in the country. Whereby locals have been able to work in customer service, in hotels or simply help with transport, working with taxi companies. But it’s not only economic advantages.
Culturally, there has been work behind supporting the development and ultimately the preservation of tradition customs in the country. This not only helps these communities with funding for their cultural activities, but it protects them for future tourists, making them more sustainable.
Finally, the social benefits of sustainable tourism. Through this revenue from tourism in the country, there has been an increase in the infrastructure, from renovated roads to improved sewage systems. This has, as a result, improved the quality of life in the country and only made it a more attractive place for tourists to visit.
Ecobnb’s article sums up by stating that through sustainable tourism in the country it has seen quality growth that has allowed its heritage sites to remain pristine and well-preserved.
Top ecotourism stops in Italy?
One great example of ecotourism in Italy, is based in the already famous tourist destination of Cinque Terre in Liguria. Project Cinque Terre holds a “sustainable initiative” wherein tourists go to the beautiful location to learn about the impact of tourism on small towns like Cinque Terre. There are also activities such as helping locals build stone walls for the towns to help preservation their scenic homes.
Moving just north of Liguria to the region piedmont there is a different and more luxurious end of sustainable tourism aiming to preserve a “slow food” culture in opposition to fast food. Vistaterra, a company dedicated to providing sustainable tourism with nature, cuisine and historic heritage at its heart, opened its resort last year. They provide luxury rooms for their visitors and they back the slow food movement, protecting traditional and regional cuisine, while working with local providers and businesses.
At the other end of Italy, there is a similar story in Sicily. As Frommers calls it, there is a renaissance of eco and sustainable tourism in Sicily. The same local farming methods in the area have existed for centuries and now these farmers want to open the lands for tourist to understand and experience their ways of living off the rich land. There has also been many initiatives in the area dedicate to protecting the Sicilian marine life.
Finally, a small story of a married couple in Tuscany which shows that this trend of ecotourism in Italy has really spread wide and far. Sadio and Donatella, a couple that combined their loves of animals and nature into a country house stay in Chianti, offer the lucky visitors that come, to take relaxing horseback rides through uncontaminated Tuscan countryside treks.
In conclusion to everything above, it seems that this relatively new and powerful trend in tourism fits perfectly with the FYI’s Mission to make every citizen of the world associate Italy with passion, culture, art, nature, food and wine.