"Sustainable Tourism and Renewable Energy Sources"
Sustainable Tourism and Renewable Energy Sources Tourist industry emerged with an unusual strength on most islands. European islands see that the tourist activity has gradually become an important part of their GIP and an expectation of future development. To get an idea of the island tourism importance in developed destinations, if we compare usual tourist island densities within the European Union we find densities reaching 50 rooms per square kilometre, higher in many cases than density in many Furthermore, if we take into account the 100% RES for tourism populated areas of the mainland. But in increasing relationship between energy Large-scale inclusion of renewable energy terms of tourist flow, the results are even features and island water policies, we can sources in the tourist sector, and in the more striking: Greek islands receive more reach the conclusion that tourist activity hotel sector in particular, clearly is an international tourism than Brazil, the should be conceived and designed taking already demonstrated, competitive and Balearic Islands host as many tourist as into account the particular island energy efficient option. It is not hazardous to say Portugal and the Canary Islands duplicates features, establishing new alliances that the greatest industry of our planet is the 6 million of international tourists that between tourist agents and energy and one of the strategic sectors candidates for receives South Africa, the great emerging market operators. a large-scale implementation of RES-based destination. The necessary co-operation between the energy solutions. tourism sector and sustainable develop- Every day more renewable solutions are Destination Area Accommodation found. With regard to solar applications, the ment, as a way and condition for industry Capacity survival, has been emphasised in several possibilities are more and more evident. Corfu 592 km2 70.000 international meetings and agreements, and Nowadays we own a wide experience, Minorca 720 km2 82.000 clearly expressed by the World Charter of accumulated for almost two decades, on hot Elba 223 km2 21.000 Sustainable Tourism, adopted on the island water production, and on applications such Rhodes 1.398 km2 80.000 of Lanzarote in 1995 (see annex). as swimming pool heating. New projects Tenerife 2.036 km2 170.000 These numbers belonging to high-density destinations clearly outline a tendency and warn us about the need to sensibly face one of the most important challenges for islands in the forthcoming years. Tourism therefore, in its energy dimension, is playing a role of increasing importance. This new situation is not only determined by the direct rise of tourism activity within the energy demand, but also by additional factors like seasonality, which involves an oversizing of energy capacities, an effect of the new induced consumption patterns and the scattered distribution of new tourist settlements. 63 aiming to solar cooling are now appearing, economical question, although often this is used in the hall and common areas is meeting an essential demand of warm the reason given, as it was emphasised in sometimes higher than it. destinations, and, more recently we are the ICAEN works, since the energy costs These data indicate that beside purely fluctuate between 3% financial features, we are facing a problem and 10% of the costs of of generalised ignorance about RET an hotel and, at the same possibilities, together with an absence of time, they are the highest co-operation on this subject of the main budget head after staff actors: architects, engineers, consultants, and food costs. Also in promoters and hotel managers. All this in studies carried out by spite of the fact that, according to several Insula for European works on tourist expectations on islands, Figure 1: tourist islands it was tourists start to ask for more environmen- Energy forms used on average in the Mediterranean hotel sector made clear that the first tally-friendly behaviours in island destina- necessary investments tions. for energetically sustain- The actual lack of alliances in favour of able hotels, being they RES in such an important market favoured new or on the occasion the consolidation of the Tech-Island Tourism of renovation works, Forum, in the framework of the Island 2010 range between 5 and 8% initiative started from the Maspalomas of the total inversion, Conference (Sustainable Hotels for Figure 2: while the surplus cost of Sustainable Destinations). Its aim is to Energy consumption per use in the Mediterranean Hotel Sector embellishment materials break the information barriers and promote seeing how the generalisation of photovoltaic sustainable tourist initiatives within the applications allow power production directly 100% RES strategy. in the same building, with the possibility to reach the total supply and even transfer the Role of environmental labels, surplus to the electric grid. Furthermore, standards and certifications in tourist establishments or resorts can be the promotion of the sustainable designed and built to take technologies. advantage to the maximum of the In the last years we could see an unusual environment energy, saving in power flourishing of initiatives in favour of production through the use of bioclimatic sustainability within the tourist industry. architecture criteria. Therefore today we can rely on an exten- Nevertheless we must admit that penetra- sive range of tools that underpin this tion of RET solutions within the European initiative: international cooperation agree- islands' tourist sector is surprisingly low. ments, legislative actions, planning and Works developed, for instance, in the Mediterranean area (CRES, ICAEN; SOFTECH, ADEME), show a very low present contribution of renewable energies in the hotel sector (Figure 1), although the diagram of its energy needs makes this option easier (Figure 2) and the estimated potential is certainly high (Figure 3). It is necessary to analyse in detail the reason why the most innovating industry of the planet hasn't been able to generalise the methods of exploitation of Renewable Figure 3: Energy Technologies. It is not only an Estimated potential energy savings from the implementation of efficient energy technologies and R.E.S. 64 development of local Agendas 21, codes of Within this context, environmental labels conduct, eco-labels, best-practice guide- and standards (EMAS, ISO 14000, lines and environmental management Biosphere Hotels..) played an important role systems. The accommodation sector in the systematic implementation of best stands out within this context, as it practices in the hotel sector. Most of the generates a great portion of resource achievements reached by hotels that consumption and is one of tourist's basic adopted any environmental label or expectations. management system regard the efficient However, within the complex transfer of use of energy and water and implementa- theory into practice, enough attention is not tion of renewable energies. UNESCO (Lanzarote, Minorca, Galapagos, usually paid to the new role of technology in It is therefore necessary to take a step EL Hierro) and whose objective is the the XXI century. In the first stage it is forward with the help of tourist eco-labels inclusion of RES within the destinations' logical to emphasise greatly all the aspects with the aim to incorporate renewable image. related with management. But when it is energies in the certification systems' time to pass to the implementation of requirements and destination's market Building in favour of climate, a sustainable development policies in tourist strategy. rational option for hotels destinations, it is worth remembering that A good example of the first case is given by A great portion of the energy consumption scientific and technological innovations of the integration of the island 2010 initiative's of tourist islands is due to the tourist activity the last twenty years bring us a sound criteria in the standard revision of the itself, and in particular to hotels. Hotels, like basis for change that we need to consider Responsible Tourism System (Biosphere any other building, aim to protect people thoroughly. Hotels), in cooperation with the IRT (an from external weather inclemency. Never- organisation associated to the UNESCO), theless, tourist buildings have in many which gave, as a result, a new system of cases suffered a process that transformed requirements applicable to certified hotels them in completely closed spaces, with that include the maximum use of RES scarce exchanges with the surrounding together with the traditional criteria of environment. As a result, instead of taking Rational Use of Energy. advantage of the weather and the external Another example, corresponding to the resources, it has been decided to create an second case, could be the development of artificial environment, using energy- a sensitisation and marketing campaign consuming elements. that already started for islands that have Replication of non-updated urban and been declared biosphere reserves by the building criteria in island hotels and resorts Manual of recommendations for the hotel industry, which includes RES-related criteria, developed by Sustainable hotels Global style hotels Insula. Attractiveness Based on local environmental features Based on heavy interventions on local en- and local cultures vironments (e.g. amusement parks) Energy Strongly reduced by use of solar and wind High levels of energy consumption due to consumption power and passive solar architecture unsustainable use of limited local energy resources Natural resources Low impact constructions, sustainable Large urban interventions and land exploi- (water, soil) use of scarce water resources tation. High level of water consumption. Waste Recycling, sustainable treatment of or- Unsafe disposal of solid and liquid ganic waste trough composting wastes. Contamination of coastal areas Local biodiversity Preservation of local biodiversity as im- Exploitation and depletion of natural en- portant and attractive features vironments Local culture Maintained as part of tourist attractiveness Sacrificed, in name of the universal "tour- and means for cultural exchange ist entertainment model" Local economy Boosted by the full involvement of local Seriously affected by the massive pres- industry, art and crafts, and labour ence of imported goods and labour Source: Paola Deda 65 represents an added risk to energy waste. We are taking over a high risk by using unapt buildings, by promoting a uniform, and therefore not competitive in the long term, tourist product. We must take into account that energetically sustainable architectures, beside the evident environ- mental cultural and energy advantages, a basic added value with regard to qualifica- tion of destinations, as the quality of accommodation is in the first place of A curious, autonomous tourist information centre developed by the ITC of the Canary Islands (Julieta Shallenberg) tourists' expectatives. Bioclimatic architecture takes into account import of inappropriate infrastructure guarantee an evident improvement of the dweller's comfort and requires greater models contributed to unbearable traffic environmental quality of tourist destinations imaginative amounts, which improve the increases, which are reflected by figures and resorts. cultural quality of the building. But it also such as road density, higher than 0.5 km/ Nowadays, new transport technologies aims to take the maximum advantage of km2 in many cases, and the number of allow taking care of environmental aspects favourable climatic conditions and reduce private vehicles, which is often twice the in tourist destinations without decreasing energy consumption of the building. To European average, 51.5 vehicles per km2. mobility, being supported by complemen- achieve this objective, we must take into In fact, inappropriate inland transport tary measures such as the creation of account the following energy rules: policies are seriously endangering the pedestrian areas, the limitation of use of • Use of on-site energy fragile and rich tourist resources available private vehicles, promotion of public • Use of natural energy flows on islands. transports, telematic assistance and • Making thermal use of building One of the most effective ways of tackling intermodality. But we should also consider this problem is to take an integrated that alternative transport strategy is strictly Tourism, New transports and approach of introducing more environmen- connected to the development of Renew- sustainable mobility tally friendly vehicles and simultaneously able Energy Sources. Some of the most Islands, characterised by high tourist encouraging a modal shift from private to advanced, under the way projects for densities and rapid growth, are starting to public transport. Renewable energy for tourist islands show scenarios where suffer the phenomenon of degradation of public transport can contribute on both transport is transformed in a regulator and their tourist product due to the impacts fronts providing a sustainable, clean and accumulating system for surplus electric caused by traffic. In the long run it will be attractive alternative. energy obtained from RES. extremely contradictory to choose a holiday Nowadays it is technologically feasible to For island tourist destinations this is an destination with equal or higher traffic- change towards sustainable mobility in excellent possibility to qualify their offer, related environmental problems than those tourist destinations. Ultra-low or zero taking advantage of the experiences existing in the tourists' areas of origin. emission transport (CNG, Hybrid, Electric, accumulated by several projects. As a Lack of tourist planning in transport and the etc.) can clearly benefit the environment in matter of fact, it is really inconceivable that urban and tourist areas, as none of the main European demonstration Inclusion of photovoltaic roofs in hotels, an option for this sector they contribute to lessen projects of alternative transports has that can be brought into general use on islands. the effects produced by focussed on strictly tourist areas (except pollution to the environ- for a few historic centres) or more specifi- mental quality of tourist cally on island areas. There is an essential destinations, particularly in need for large-scale demonstration projects sensitive areas and historic in this field, since within island tourist centres. Solutions such as destinations three distinctive factors are hybrid and electric vehicles combined: the need for an environmental show us also operability qualification of the destination, the presence and benefits of these non- of nimble market actors and economies and polluting transports, and a strong demonstration effect on the their low-noise emissions population. We don't have to forget that 66 islands receive every year more than 40 million European visitors. Telematics for RES applications in the hotel sector On islands, the hotel sector is usually separated from the centres of information. That is why telematics are often a very advantageous tool, to achieve updating about new issues of relative restricted distribution as sustainable applications often are. We all would like to obtain more informa- tion, but many of us have several motives to postpone it continually. Lack of time, other priorities directly related with the daily and time of redemption. If it is interested in References issues, and also fear of facing the public sustainability, it would like to know if it can Definition of a Strategy for Energy Efficiency and are important factors that help to postpone use renewable energy sources. Then, if it is Use of RES in the Mediterranean Hotel Sector. intentioned to change its infrastructures, Center for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) in the beginning of a training that we esteem convenient. will ask for people who can make it. collaboration with ADEME (France), ICAEN (Spain), Maybe the first question asked by an hotel Finally, having realised that there is a lot of SOFTECH (Italy) and CINAR (Greece) has carried work to do and that it is worth doing it, in out a study in the framework of THERMIE B Pro- with regard to energy, is whether it can save energy or not. In case of affirmative order to work better and to be better gramme entitled: "Definition of a Strategy for En- answer, which immediate measure can be situated in this emerging market, it will ergy Efficiency and use of Renewable Energy decide that training cannot wait anymore, Sources in the Mediterranean Hotel Sector" taken without requiring any investment? Afterwards it will analyse which equipments and would need to know the offer and Tourism and Sustainable Development: The island can be changed or acquired to increase its obtain a service adapted to its needs and experience. Ed. By INSULA. Cipriano Marin-Luis energy saving, which would be their cost expectatives. Gortázar. 1999. 67