Fitur 2019 – Spain Commits to Sustainable Tourism

The international tourism fair that took place in Madrid was a key moment to define new strategies for 2019. Faced with a mass tourism, new technologies are presented as concrete solutions.

In terms of tourism, Spain is only breaking records. This year again, Madrid International Tourism Fair (Fitur) was expected to attract crowds with nearly 250,000 people expected from 23 to 27 January.

This is nothing compared to the 82.6 million foreign tourists who visited the Iberian Peninsula in 2018, an increase of 0.9% compared to last year, according to the Spanish Ministry of Tourism. Even language schools like Expanish language school are receiving a great amount of tourists that want to learn Spanish. But is this good news?

Sustainable tourism is a voluntary and supportive approach, inspired by sustainable development. It is a tourism concerned about its environmental, economic and social impact.

Why is Sustainable Tourism Essential?

Tourism is the main socio-economic sector in the world. It even represents 10% of global GDP, and the trend does not seem to be reversing anytime soon.

In January 2019, UNWTO shared its statistics on tourist flows for the year 2018. A total of 1.4 billion tourists were registered. In comparison, in 1950, there were 25 million tourists in the world and in 2005, they were 800 million. Significant growth in a few years.

Tourism, if left unchecked, can have a destructive impact on the environmental, social and economic ecosystem of a particular region.

Sustainable tourism is based on the three pillars of sustainable development:

Environmental – The reduction of the tourist impact on the environment, the preservation of natural resources, the management of waste.

Social – Respect for the local cultural and traditional heritage and its communities, the joint management of the territory, the integration of local people in tourism development.

Economic – The guarantee of viable economic activity in the long term and equitable remuneration of local actors with the aim of improving the living conditions of local populations.

If tourism is one of the main drivers of development for some countries such as Spain (by 2030, this sector will represent 12% of global GDP), its exponential growth is more and more question.

Overtourism is a problem but also important environmental and social footprint. In Spain, there are countless manifestations of tourismophobia. “Tourist go home”: for some years, this type of signs hostile to holidaymakers has flourished in many Spanish touristic areas in Barcelona or in some tourist streets of the Balearic Islands.

It has become more than vital for a destination as popular as Spain to reinvent its tourism to satisfy both visitors and locals alike.

Rethink the Tomorrow’s Tourism

Among the main themes presented at this international fair, sustainability and specialization in new technologies are key elements of the future tourism industry.

The great novelty of this 39th Fitur edition came from the FiturNext Observatory. Launched at the show, this sectoral convergence platform will serve as a catalyst for tourism projects. It must contribute at the same time to an improvement of the visitor experience, the development of destinations and the balance of the planet.

A sort of incubator of start-ups that promote tourism, FiturNext is giving itself three years to collect data including alternative solutions. Thus, they will be able to initiate more local development and sustainable mobility, values in line with responsible tourism.

According to Eduardo López-Puertas, General Director of Ifema, which hosted the event in Madrid, “it is important that all players in the sector can promote tourism models that have a positive impact in the near future”.

Today, the observatory does not lack ideas from around the world: a tourist circuit to pick up plastic waste in the canals of Amsterdam, an Indonesian application indicating where to fill his bottle for free.

Others, already developed, can inspire future projects.

To remain among the cities classified by UNESCO, the town hall of Dubrovnik (Croatia) stagger for example the arrival of cruise ships through cameras. In Amsterdam, a mobile application shows in real time the waiting time at the entrance of museums.

In Barcelona, a similar device was already tested in 2016 at the entrance to the Sagrada Familia using sensors that track the signals of mobile phones, to accurately detect the length of visit, the time when people arrive, leave, with the aim of modulating the opening hours and the pricing.