68% of travellers value the social sustainability of destinations and more than half (53.3%) of tourism companies have already introduced innovative sustainability solutions. Some success stories in Italy and abroad.
There is no doubt that, among the changes brought about by the pandemic in travel styles, one that is sure to remain is the increased focus on sustainability. This is what emerges from a meta-research conducted by the Observatory of BIT 2002 - the leading tourism event in Italy, at fieramilanocity from 10 to 12 April - which collected and compared data from some of the major international analyses.
Players and travellers are both ripe for sustainability
Sustainability not only in the environmental sense: according to data reported by the European Commission in a study on accessible tourism, 68% of travellers would like to see the proceeds of their tourism expenses reinvested locally. As a result, Regiondo the analyst explains, in the coming years the traveller will increasingly choose destinations that demonstrate respect for nature and, in general, that are more in line with their philosophy. According to the company, this approach is likely to expand in the short term from destinations to other operators in the tourism industry, such as carriers. It's not just about 'greenwashing': sustainability is also leading to greater attention to stakeholders and, in particular, to institutions. And, on the consumer side, the growing importance of sustainability is part of a broader awareness of increased responsibility.
Players in the tourism supply chain are not only showing awareness of these changes, but have also already begun to invest, especially in technology, to make a sustainable change, as Euromonitor's data shows. More than half (53.3%) of companies in the industry already integrate sustainability features, and an even greater share (63%, nearly two-thirds) are developing sustainable products and services. Specifically, about 55% of companies are investing in sustainability education initiatives for employees and customers, 45% are optimising energy efficiency, and about a third are switching to renewables.
The new centrality of sustainable tourism is also confirmed by the data. According to the 2020 report by the UniVerde Foundation, for 74% of Italians sustainable tourism is the safest in the post-Covid phase, while 71% consider it more ethically correct and closer to nature and 84% also see it as an opportunity for economic development.
Destinations are on the move: success stories
Another important theme highlighted by Euromonitor is that of overtourism. From this perspective, one of the most interesting case studies is Venice: thanks in part to the use of next-generation technologies, the lagoon city has introduced numerous mitigation measures, such as entrance turnstiles, limitations to cruise ships and, most importantly, a new Control Room that uses artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to prevent and alleviate bottlenecks.
Among the northern regions, Lombardy aims to enhance the proximity of valuable naturalistic oases to large urban areas, such as the Regional Park of the Ticino Valley - a stone's throw from Milan and the Asse del Sempione, with Malpensa airport - with its numerous fauna species and rich river vegetation. The Lombardy Region also promotes the ecofriendly approach through apps like Sporty, which makes it possible to plan sustainable excursions in the Lombardy mountains.
Moving to the centre-south, Abruzzo stands out for its Vie della Spiritualità (Ways of Spirituality), Passing by centuries-old monasteries scattered in the silence of the woods and which lend themselves to a "slow" and extremely sustainable approach to tourism, it is respectful not only of the natural environment but also of the history and traditions of the places and the people who live there. All this reflects the most recent developments in sustainability, which are also expressed in social as well as ecological terms. In neighbouring Puglia, Salento devotes an entire portal to sustainable tourism, pugliaecotravel.com: promoted by the Salento 4 Seasons network with the support of Regione Puglia and financed with PSR funds, the project promotes sustainable packages and experiences in terms of destinations, facilities and itineraries.
In the larger islands, Sicily is characterised by a widespread approach to sustainability: the region is the first in Italy for the number of Ecolabel certified facilities (12, followed by Trentino with 10 and Sardinia with 5) and has more than 40 facilities recognised as high energy efficiency by ISPRA, as well as about 200 farms where you can live the territory in a sustainable and responsible way. Meanwhile, Sardinia is at the top of the Touring Club Blue Guide and participates in large-scale European projects such as ShMILE 2, which aims to promote sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean by reducing the environmental impact of coastal accommodation facilities.
Sustainable offerings are also growing among international destinations. For several years now, once-in-a-lifetime destinations such as Mauritius and the Maldives have offered numerous sustainable resorts, while countries closer to home, such as Hungary, are also developing sustainable offers for destinations such as Lake Tisza or the Írottkő, Hortobágy and Örség nature parks. In the USA the "wilderness" is at home and there are more and more packages that allow you to explore it, from canyons to large parks, in a responsible way.