Opinion Column: World Tourism Day: Towards a Sustainable Future with Green Investments and Circular Economy
The integration of sustainable tourism practices and circular economy can play an important role in reducing tourism’s contribution to climate change and in protecting the natural and cultural environment that attracts travellers.
Opinion column by Marilú Mansilla, head of projects in the area of Sustainability and Circular Economy at the Eurochile Business Foundation.
This year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has decided that World Tourism Day, celebrated every 27 September, will have a central focus on “Green Tourism and Green Investments”. Green investments in tourism are primarily aimed at promoting sustainability and environmental conservation in the tourism industry. They also seek to reduce negative environmental impacts and encourage more environmentally and socially responsible practices, creating a sustainable future for the industry.
For this reason, World Tourism Day invites us to reflect on the relevance of this industry, and the path it must follow into the future. Climate change and the need for the tourism industry to adapt to this phenomenon, together with greater environmental awareness on the part of tourists, are pushing us to make the offer increasingly sustainable. To achieve this, it is necessary to transform the tourism industry from a linear to a circular approach, promoting innovation and incorporating the circular economy and circular business models in tourism businesses, with the aim of achieving truly sustainable tourism.
In this sense, the integration of sustainable tourism practices and circular economy can play an important role in reducing tourism’s contribution to climate change and in protecting the natural and cultural environment that attracts travellers. In the case of Chile, 49.1% of tourists visiting the country are motivated by its natural wealth. Therefore, it is imperative to protect these natural resources and work on adaptation to climate change, as the reason for travel for almost 50% of tourists entering the country could be at risk. In addition, MSMEs in the tourism sector are the most vulnerable, so it is of utmost importance that they incorporate the circular economy into their products and services.
Consequently, the sustainable tourism market is constantly growing and evolving due to the increasing awareness of the importance of environmental and social sustainability. Nowadays, travellers are increasingly looking for options that minimise their negative impact and contribute positively to the territories, which has led to an increase in the supply of sustainable tourism around the world, and we in Chile cannot be left behind.
To achieve this, green investments play an essential role in helping to incorporate these concepts in key areas such as sustainable infrastructure, low-emission transport, waste management, technological innovation, environmental restoration and equipment for tourism businesses. These investments are of paramount importance, especially in an industry that is still recovering from the economic problems resulting from the crisis we experienced during the pandemic.
On the other hand, Europe leads in the aspects mentioned above, accumulating valuable experience from which we can learn knowledge that can be identified, exploited and adapted. Meanwhile in Chile, it is necessary to advance from the grassroots, which means transferring knowledge, adopting good practices, using effective methodologies, among other aspects. For this reason, we must promote green investment in innovation to generate technological solutions that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as in the implementation of the circular economy in tourism MSMEs, and for this it is necessary to start by generating critical mass in the ecosystem, contributing to transfer and dissemination.
Over the last 30 years, the Eurochile Business Foundation has played a fundamental role in building bridges between SMEs and entrepreneurs in Chile and Europe, implementing projects throughout Chile, and we continue to do so in relation to current issues. At Eurochile we are committed to the development of these issues and the transfer, application and incorporation of this knowledge to contribute to sustainable tourism in Chile. This involves promoting the implementation of the Circular Economy in SMEs and, consequently, adaptation to climate change.
The Eurochile Business Foundation is currently implementing a project in the Coquimbo Region called “Reactivation of Regional Tourism with Circular Economy”, financed by the Regional Government of Coquimbo through the Innovation Fund for Competitiveness (FIC). Its main objective is to “Reactivate Tourism in the Coquimbo Region in a sustainable way and promoting the Circular Economy among tourism MSMEs”. Through this initiative, we have had the opportunity to share experiences with entrepreneurs in the tourism sector, who have been able to appreciate the benefits of implementing the circular economy in tourism.
Through this programme and other initiatives that Eurochile develops and implements, we seek to actively contribute to current issues related to tourism.