Friday, July 1

A tourism of the future for 2022 (and beyond)

Augmenting the future has always been an arduous and risky task, but these days it has become a titanic endeavor. When it seemed that the recovery had entered an upward path that was no longer reversed, the emergence of inflation that had been dormant for decades together with the rise of the omicron variant of the virus blurs prospects again short term.

However, while it is possible that these factors may produce some temporary ups and downs, will not derail the economic recovery in the medium term, less so now that important investment packages will be injected into various economies around the globe. It is true that our sector is especially vulnerable to these virus mutations, but it is also true that the extraordinary work of a scientific community highly coordinated means that the knowledge of the virus is more and more exhaustive, and the responses are quicker and more timely.

With this macroeconomic and sectoral scenario in mind, our expectation is that tourism will continue to strengthen its current recovery trend. This would be excellent news for the Spanish economy, where the weight of the sector before the pandemic exceeded 12%. However, we cannot ignore that tourism contributes significantly to climate change, especially due to the transport of tourists, but also due to the activity of its establishments, while its overcrowding leads to overexploitation and degradation of natural areas.

This complex relationship between tourism and the environment has been fully exposed with Covid-19. Just look at this number: in 2019, Paradores emissions were 21,000 tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2-eq). The halt in activity in 2020 meant that emissions were cut to around 16,000 tCO2-eq, a 24% drop. This is a great fact: the point is to achieve it with the same activity of 2019 or higher, and not at the expense of severe damage suffered by our tourism industry.

This is the difficult challenge that lies ahead. From the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, and from Paradores as an instrument of tourism policy, we believe that it is necessary take advantage of the foreseeable recovery of the sector to change the tourism model in Spain under the conviction that the health of our planet is the health of our industry.

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We are talking about decarbonize both hotel establishments and tourist destinations. For this we must improve energy efficiency of our buildings, generate savings in energy consumption through the digital control of the facilities, and introduce clean and renewable energies. Too we will promote the circular economy to integrate production and sustainable consumption of the value chains of all kinds of products, also those of restoration, so important for Paradores.

Finally, we will cooperate with municipalities and regions to, once at the destination, encourage tourists to move with sustainable alternatives other than private vehicles, proof of our commitment to a more diversified, intelligent and respectful tourist offer with the environment that leads us to the Spain of the interior. With all this, we will not only help to protect the planet, but also to energize regions where the best alternative to obtain income is that they make us live extraordinary and unique experiences sharing its culture, landscapes, gastronomy and architecture.

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