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In search of tomorrow: putting an end to mass tourism to preserve the sites

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The evolution towards more qualitative, sustainable and resilient tourism is fraught with challenges. The sector represents 8% of the GDP in France.

Nans-les-Pins, a small village in the Var, recently saw hundreds of cars and visitors come to walk to the sources of the Huveaune, a Natura 2000 classified site, after the publication on Instagram of sumptuous blue lagoon photos taken by internet users.

So much so that the municipality had to take a municipal decree and ask for the reinforcement of eco-guards to protect them. “If this continues, in six months, the site no longer exists,” warned the mayor.

It’s time for more sustainable tourism

Contrary to mass tourism, which very often saturates sites, pollutes and damages, the time has come for more sustainable tourism, more respectful of nature and people.

Tourism that “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts” according to the official definition of the World Tourism Organization. Tourism that “also preserves our heritage and manages waste well,” said Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Tourism at the Conference of Ministers of Tourism of the European Union held in March 2022. Some have complained from mass tourism, we must move towards more inclusive and environmentally friendly tourism”.

A popular trend

A trend acclaimed by the French! According to figures published at the end of April by Booking.com, the online travel booking specialist, 57% of French travelers surveyed say they want to travel more sustainably in the next twelve months, an increase of eleven points compared to to 2021.

In this survey, 25% of French people reveal that they have preferred to travel in low season to avoid mass tourism over the past year, and almost a quarter (24%) that they have chosen a destination closer to home to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The public expresses a real desire for more sustainable tourism”

“The public expresses a real desire for a healthier world, a more sustainable tourism, more linked to the territories. A return to values, quite old, in the end, which will undoubtedly be the fundamentals of tomorrow’s tourism,” explains Florence Rousson-Mompo, director of the very first Horizonia show, which will bring together in Lyon in September all the players taking part in the reflection and the transformation of tourism towards a sustainable future.

According to her, “the Covid-19 has made many tourists grow the desire to consume their trips differently, in a more ethical and united way. In this exit from the crisis, people want to give meaning to their holidays. It’s a real underlying trend”.

“Engage in a different approach”

The evolution towards more qualitative, sustainable and resilient tourism is fraught with challenges, knowing that this industry in France represents 8% of GDP and generates nearly 900,000 direct salaried jobs.

Concretely, this means taking up the challenges linked to mobility, reducing CO2 emissions, preserving water resources, protecting fragile environments – in the Mediterranean, 90% of biodiversity is located within the first 200 meters of the fringe. coastline -, to limit pollution and waste – in France, a tourist town produces an average of 100 kilos of waste per year and per additional inhabitant compared to an average town -. It’s not nothing !

Integrate sustainable development

“Integrating sustainable development at all levels of tourist activity presupposes that professionals in the sector engage in a different approach and offer products that stand out from those usually offered” explains Atout France, the tourist development agency of France.

The Anglo-Saxon or Nordic countries were the first to take this route, followed by part of the Italian supply, ahead of other receiving countries such as Spain or Portugal.

“It’s a long transition”

“It’s a long transition, confirms Florence Rousson-Mompo. Tourist establishments will have to think differently. For example, if I have a restaurant, maybe my chef can work more with local producers on a short circuit; in my hotel, I can invest in linen made in France; in my campsite, optimize water management with taps in the showers or install solar panels on the roofs of mobile homes to light up the places at night”.

To help professionals in this process, the “Destination France” plan presented by the government in November 2021 plans to mobilize 1.9 billion euros in public credits. With a clear objective: to make France the leading destination for sustainable tourism by 2030.

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