ISSN 1108-8931

INTERNATIONAL ECOTOURISM MONTHLY

Year 5-Issue 51, Aug 2003

Special Report

Can a mass tourism destination be sustainable? Rimini tries.
by Elena Delise*

A Green Beach ?Everybody that cares for the environment knows the importance that a small step, like a change of attitude, could positively affect our entire community. So, who more than tourism could start such a virtuous cycle? Even though a mass tourism destination cannot change itself into a “green isolated paradise”, it is significant that such a destination is ready to adjust its path, moving towards sustainable tourism. For these reasons I believe that, in order to reach sustainability, it is fundamental to share and spread every initiative that goes in this direction. As an Italian living in Rimini, I would love to tell you what my province is doing, hoping that our small change of attitude could affect other mass tourist destinations and gives useful hints to tourists operators that wants to go green.

Rimini can be thought of as a tourist costal metropolis, capital of all kinds of entertainments, hospitality and tourist innovations. The Province of Rimini represents one of the most important tourist areas in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. It has an accommodation capacity that is equal to the entire region of Tuscany and has a tourist tradition that dates back to 1843. Over the years, Rimini has always been a tourist market leader, thanks to its ability to look ahead, anticipating tourist demands and satisfying every vacationers dream.

Giving these premises it is easy to deduce that in our region the impacts of tourism on the environment are significant. The whole community are increasingly aware of the damages that unsustainable tourism policies could have on tourism, threatening the desire of our people to welcome the visitors in a clean and controlled environment. Rimini started to take a firmly position toward sustainable tourism in June 2001, this was marked by hosting the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism. On June, 26th 2002 Rimini launched the Regional Forum implementation of the Agenda 21. Also in 2002, Rimini started implementing  the European Union  'Life' Environment Project “Strategies and tools for sustainable tourism in the costal area of the Mediterranean”, co-financed by the E.U. in collaboration with Calviŕ, Federalberghi, the biggest hoteliers’ association in Italy, and Ambiente Italia, an environmental consulting company. The purpose of the project is to create a new tourism development model that is sustainable and capable of continuing and bringing millions of people together and of guaranteeing economic and social development while respecting the environment and satisfying tourists fully.

In such a context, various initiatives have flourished with the support of the provincial government, Italian NGOs and with the commitment of tourist operators and the local community. Among those initiatives, the “Green Beach” looks the most promising and will be examined below:

In Italy many tourist operators own small beaches where they rent out beach umbrellas and deck chairs. Italian beaches are like small communities, where people get together and make friends while enjoying different services, which in the most advanced beaches even include swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi and so on. The beach is an important means of diffusion of new trends, ideas and community behaviour. For this reason, the beach could be an interesting “propeller” for eco-responsible behaviours. This year, on the 28th of June, the summer season opened with the most important service of the summer, the “green beach”. The “green beach” receive an eco-label issued by an Italian NGO (Legambiente), with a green swan as a symbol. In order to receive the coveted mark, 10 actions should be performed, including the following:

  • Recycling and separation of different types of waste, and waste reduction through a careful purchasing policy that favour eco-friendly products (products with less packing, with refilling, reusable etc.).

  • Reduction of water waste through the installation of water-saving systems and promotion of water-saving behaviour.

  • Energy-saving through use of solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs.

  • Promotion of biological and local products.

  • Promotion of public transportation: Information shall be made easily available to the guests and staff on how to reach the accommodation and other local destinations by public transport. Where no appropriate public transport exists, information on other environmentally preferable means of transport shall also be provided.

  • Promotion of safe and security on the beach: boosting use of bicycle and bike paths and avoiding use of jet ski. Commitment to reduce noise in the costal area.

  • Commitment to promote and enhance the value of alternative tourism proposals about culture and nature. Spread of scientific communicational information about the characteristics of flora, fauna and water conditions.

  • Commitment to help tourist to support this initiative, promoting their positive behaviour.

Among the 50 beaches that participate in the Green Beach project, one excelled over the others. This beach is called 'Bagno Giulia 85' and is located in Riccione. This beach has seriously taken the environmental challenge, and with the logistic and practical support of a local high school, has implemented a sophisticated system of energy and water saving. In order to save drinking water, the WC flushing uses water that is collected by the showers. Energy is generated by a system of solar panels and is used to pump the water of the shower into the bathroom. In this way, 5000 litres of drinkable water are saved every day and 3800 litres of CO2 per year are not emitted into the atmosphere. Considering that on the Rimini Province there are more than 500 beach owners, the increasing number of green beaches could positively reduce the impact on the environment. Even though we are still a mass tourism destination and even though some of our past tourism policies have aggressively affected the environment, I believe that we are still able to change our path and going green is always possible.

About the Author

*Elena Delise lives in Cattolica, Italy. Presently she is pursuing her second Masters degree in Economics, Ethics and Tourism at the Universitŕ di Bologna in Rimini and collaborates with an Italian tourism NGO. She has a Masters degree in International Relations from ISPI in Milan, focused on Tourism as a regional sustainable development tool, and a Bachelors degree in Political Science – Economics, with a thesis on “Green hotels”.

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