Rías Baixas, an increasingly sustainable destination
Sustainable tourism is a growing trend combining environmental, economic and cultural values, and is aimed to make tourism a fruitful experience both for travellers and for locals. These are the latest actions carried out by the Provincial Government of Pontevedra to achieve the aims set by the UN in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
As part of its environmental commitment, the Deputación de Pontevedra launched an awareness campaign for waste collection during the tour of Rías Baixas Festivals. The Rías Baixas Festivals are held in unique spots of heritage importance and with beautiful landscapes, so the aim of the campaign was to raise awareness among visitors on the importance of a correct management of the waste generated in this type of events. Therefore, garbage containers and recycling points were set up/installed in the area. There were also Eco-patrols aimed to raise participant awareness of the importance of reducing the waste and being environmentally friendly.
The provincial government has also been committed to promote the Roman and Pre-Roman archaeological sites in the province, following a sustainable tourism model, from the social, economic and environmental dimensions. From a social perspective, the preservation of the castros (Pre-Roman settlements) was possible thanks to a collaborative work of all the actors involved: from institutions to woodland communities and locals. From an economic perspective, this project contributed to reduce seasonality and to attract new visitors through the promotion of archaeological, historic and cultural resources. From an environmental perspective, degraded and abandoned areas have been recovered, contributing to the preservation of natural resources and the promotion of landscape as an added value.
New leisure activities were offered by the castles belonging to the provincial government, fostering projects based on sustainable transport, such as the natural trails of the Castle of Sobroso and the Castle of Soutomaior, devised to go on foot. The one-km circular route is an invitation to enjoy the environmental diversity of the Atlantic forest. It includes seven digital display panels with QR codes including information in different languages on the plants and trees growing along the route. Soutomaior has three well-signposted routes, running through the garden of the camellias, the vineyards and the woods surrounding the castle.
Another case of best practice, from an environmental perspective, is the programme of Depo Andainas, a series of routes including visits to the most emblematic places in the province. The Depo Andainas have as a main aim to promote ecotourism and the cultural, environmental and ethnographic value of the visited areas. The initiative is being warmly welcomed and the places to participate fill up quickly every year.
The promotion of nature experiences with a low impact are among the actions that will be carried out by the Deputación de Pontevedra related to the tourism sector, such as bird-based tourism. The province of Pontevedra is one of the main destinations in Spain for birdwatching enthusiasts, attracting environmentally friendly visitors that want to discover beautiful landscapes through bird-watching. The Deputación de Pontevedra will be the sponsor of the documentary series España, tierra prometida, which will be broadcasted this year on the Spanish public TV Channel and in some regional channels, with the aim of promoting this activity.
We can enjoy As Rías Baixas following environmental and social responsibility criteria by knowing the options and the environment, since this destination offers many leisure activities with a reduced impact on the environment.
As Rías Baixas has four places of interest for bird-based tourism or birding: the Cíes Islands, the Intertidal Complex Umia-O Grove, the marshlands Brañas de Xestoso and the Xunqueira de Alba. These areas have viewpoints and physical observatories with informative panels, to introduce you to this activity
In addtion, you can explore As Rías Baixas on foot, as part of a group of the DepoAndainas, or on your own, following the trails of the castles. You can also make the Way of Saint James, going through the coast of Pontevedra as an alternative tourism experience for thousands of people, who want to avoid using polluting vehicles.
The activities conducted in contact with nature must imply environmentally friendly behaviours, and the people that practice this kind of activities should be aware of that. Some of this activities are mushroom harvesting, climbing and canyoning and, even the observation of the stars and whale watching.
In conclusion, sustainable tourism is a challenge that we must face together, not only the public institutions and tourism companies, but also travellers with their attitude and behaviour.
International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
The UN has declared the year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which promotes tourism in five key areas:
-Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
-Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
-Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
-Cultural values, diversity and heritage
-Mutual understanding, peace and security
The most important day of this celebration, 27 September, coincides with the World Day Tourism, whose date was established in 1980. The official celebration will take place in Qatar, but it will be also celebrated in many cities and towns around the globe. One of these towns is Pontevedra, since the Deputación de Pontevedra has organized many activities to be held in the historic centre of the town, with the aim of raising people's awareness of the importance of a responsible tourism.