Sustainable tourism

Tourism. Spanish beaches. Andalucía. Torremolinos. Málaga. Development touristic

  • Enviado por: Nikita
  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: España España
  • 8 páginas


In PART ONE the theory can be found. There is an endlessly literature and information nowadays on Sustainability but definitions and trends on Sustainable Tourism are compacted in this part.

In PART TWO the destination chosen is Almeria. I have chose this province and no other because it could be defined as the last pearl of Spain's south east, but many dangers threaten this beautiful land. Many of them are subsequently explained. Something has to change before Almeria become the next Fuengirola. In order to understand some of these dangers such as land use, tourism and co-ordination for the implementation for Agenda 21 are tackled. Firstly the area will be located and briefly described. Then a brief review on politicies and Tourism strategies or sometime “no strategies” carried out in Spain, and more specifically in Almeria will take place. In Spain one of major problems, not only in terms of sustainability, but in economical or cultural come from land use, the Spanish littoral is been sold unscrupulously. As some administrations have a modest budget, sadly, giving permission to construct remains the easiest and most profitable way to increase incomes. In the conclusion the weakness of the administrations and the different problems to achieve a sustainable development are shown. In some cases a will to change towards a sustainable tourism is observed but there is still a lack of coordination and of responsibility. To speak about sustainability means to speak about A21 and communities' involvement. Therefore A21 and problems for implementation are dealt. However we cannot look away from ST, it is needed for economic, sociocultural and ecological well being, or even more, for survival.


Called Ecotourism, green tourism, low impact tourism, soft tourism, new tourism, responsible tourism, alternative tourism, appropriate tourism, shallow tourism, SUSTAINABLE TOURISM (ST) is not a new concept, Danella and Dennis Meadows point in 1972 that resources and ability of pollution absorption are finite, therefore relationship with the Earth must be regenerated and inhabitants, us, should take a new conscience towards Sustainable Development. In 1972, as well, was held in Stockholm the Conference on Humans and Environment, being the first of a series of major UN conferences on global issues related to environment. The conference promoted the concept of eco development “whereby cultural, social and ecological goals where integrated with development” (Sagasti&Colby, 1993). To this conference Rio, Johannesburg, among others, have followed and A21 has been created. Even though it is not a new concept, in recently years, is taking more strength. As a term ST could be seen as an oxymoron, two terms antagonists with an unlike common point but a lot can be done to make to converge the two terms. ST is not only taking in count issues like global warming, depletion of zone layer, water or resource and acid rain but also a matter of cultural and human heritage.

Elkington has brought together some of these dimensions into his concept of triple bottom line accounting by adding environmental and social considerations to the more regular financial accounting concern in modern business. Communities are key agents to make ST possible as Platteau and Gaspart (2003)assert that “communities need to evolve and be institutionally strengthened if they are to achieve the objectives of participatory approach (to sustainable development):economic growth, democratic governance, sustainability, equity and protection of the poor…(A)s long as the grassroots are not sufficiently empowered through suitable training programs and processes aimed at making them aware of their rights and confident enough to assert them, benefits are likely to be largely pre-empted by local elites.”

Sustainability positions are divided in 4 stages of intensity, therefore

  • very weak: anthropocentric and utilitarian. Natural resources at human's disposal with economic purposes, infinite substitution possible between natural and human-made capital, belief in continued well-being guarantied through economic growth and technical innovation.

  • Weak: Anthropocentric and utilitarian, resource conservationist, growth is managed and modified, concern for distribution of development costs and benefits through intra-and intergenerational equity, no belief of substitution between natural and human-made capital with recognition of some aspects of natural world as critical capital, human-made plus natural capital constant or rising through time, downsizing of negative environmental impacts from economic growth.

  • Strong: (Eco)system perspective, resource preservationist, priority of maintaining the functional integrity of ecosystem over and above and value through resource utilization, collective interests rather than individual interests, adherence into intra-and intergenerational equity, economic and population growth null, decoupling the important but alongside a belief in a steady state economy due constant natural assets rule.

  • very strong: bioethical and ecocentric, resource preservationist even to minimise its utilisation, nature rights intrinsic value in nature encompassing non-human living organisms and even abiotic elements under a literal interpretation of Gaia statements, anti-economic growth and reduce human population.

(Classification adapted from Hunter, 2002; readapted from Global Tourism, 2005)


CASE STUDY: ALMERIA, the last Spanish south-east's pearl


Almeria is located in Andalusia, the south east of Spain. The province of Almeria is between the provinces of Murcia to the right and Granada to the left. The province is divided between Levante , which is the most eastern almost an unspoilt area; and Poniente which is western area and is known for its resorts and hard tourism , by instance Roquetas de Mar or Almerimar. To the east of Almeria city, on the coast we have Cape Gata-Níjar which is in the protected Natural Maritime Park. The Cabo Gata Nijar Nature Reserve was declared Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1997. This extends along one of the most beautiful and richest coastal zones of immense ecological value of the Mediterranean. In Andalusia, there are more than one million and a half of hectares of Protected Areas (PA), conforming 50% of the protected areas in the whole country.


Tourism is the true motor of Andalusia's economy and the principal generator of employment representing 10% of the GDP and financing 164% of the commercial deficit. Spain in the past thirty years has been one of the best examples of the rush of MASS TOURISM or HARD TOURISM.  In many ways, the nature of tourism development in Costa de Sol from 1960 until 1990 is the antithesis of a form that is sustainable. But Almeria, due to its bad communications with the rest of the country was left behind and remained underdeveloped compared to its neighbours. While Spain is over exploited in terms of tourism, Alemeria is taking advantage of this backwardness promoting the area as a tranquil, unspoilt and unknown spot, with the lowest density in Andalusia, perfect for investing in properties. Unspoilt, yes, but for how long?

Town planning is one of most alarming problems. The competency belongs almost exclusively to municipalities. Certainly, it must be adjust in a legality framework and it is supervised by other institutions, but decision making on what is land for building and what is not concerns to Municipal Corporation. Practically all municipalities have a team in charge of town planning, which in many cases permission to construct is given with a great generosity. The littoral is the most affected area as it is the main target of construction companies. An unplanned land use system is ruining the Spanish coasts, 59% of Andalusia's littoral is constructed, from data of National Institute of Geography, there are 4000 files on infringement of land regulation, by instance Algarrobito macro-hotel which violate law preventing to construct to 100 meters strip from the coast and placed in a specially dry area, in addition to the hotel a house developing including a golf course is planned . Torremolinos or Fuengirola hold the frightening title of 100% of littoral built, now construction companies have put their eyes in Almeria, as shows the playa el Algarrobito. Thousands websites sell Almeria as prefect place to invest, usually in second residences for foreigners. Those second residences are transformed in ghost cities in winter while in summer cause water and electricity shortage besides sewage outfall among other problems always suffered by the locals. The Spanish government discourse on sustainability seems to be an image strategy rather than a real priority. There is total “laissez faire” and laxity by permitting to construct instead taking steps immediately. Sadly, in some cases, local administrations themselves act as promoters to sell their virgin coast.

Tourists are the largest consumers of water; an average tourist uses 200 litres per day, while luxury hotels provide 600 litres of water per capita.
One of the black spots is seasonality to combat it sports are promoted especially golf. Problems on maintaining a golf course are evident even though if we can find in Spain some defenders of “sustainable golf” like Gorka Garmendia. “Sustainable golf” sounds a contradiction itself. A construction company, called Grupo Roig ( has been created, focusing on sustainability, using in the corporate introduction some states of Bruntland Report as advertisement. Some Riog's proposals are courses with low building rate, use of water resources by recycling water treatment and planting a specific grass which admits irrigation with 50% sea water.

Nevertheless a good initiative to combat seasonality is ecotourism, which stops the exodus from rural areas to the coast, diversifies rural economies and stresses on the service sector, fosters innovative initiatives, helps to develop local products and handcrafts and promotes sense of identity.

There are not only bad news in terms of sustainability, a poof of a positive development can be found in the increase in the number of Spanish signatories to the Aalborg Charter, which officially commits them to adopting sustainable plans in the municipalities. Another positive issue is to embark on Agenda 21 process. For this objective the local communities' involvement is vital. As well a proactive of response from the local government, who knows best their particular interests. But it is needed to be introduced in a broader framework and be coherent with those of the rest of the policies off superior administrative levels. It is carried out projects to motivate the implication of citizens. Identity of citizens must be reinforced. Prior, almerians themselves must appreciate and feel proud of their cultural heritage. One way to meet those challenges and to capitalise on changing market preference on tourists is to consider developing sustainable tourism based on rich natural and cultural heritage. Almeria with so many different landscapes, cultural particularities, and natural environment, it offers an ideal platform for new demands. Heritage involves two factors: a sense of belonging and a sense of time Heritage. Natural heritage is taken in its broadest sense and covers not only the wildlife and habitat of a particular area, whether protected or not, but also its geological landscapes. Cultural heritage encompasses any cultural expression transmitted from the last and inherited by the present day society, on material form such as building or structure or immaterial form such as costumes, tradition , know how or lifestyles. To this purpose, activities like theme routes through Almeria such as Alemeria Muslim, Almeria through its temples, Almeria through the centuries, Almeria delicious, Almeria facing the sea, the cathedral Almeria's fortress, spending Sunday in the Alcazaba are fostered. The aim is to show their city and involve them with it. Therefore involvement of ordinary people, with new channels of participation have been created, in which citizens take part in the design and implementations of LA21. But overall, environmental education is vital, rather than providing information, it is needed to train the population and go beyond exclusively consultative participation to become more a decision-making process.


After all literature I have read and research made I have found that a new sensitivity is created, whether for the fact that the panacea of SOL y PLAYA is exhausted or because a sincere new conscience is slowly taking place. As said Almeria is a wonderful land and some hopeful initiatives are taken to maintain it, but on the other hand greedy speculators, tour operators or municipalities are difficult to hold them back. Proof of a positive development is an increase in the number of Spanish signatories to the Aalborg Charter, which officially commits them to adopting these plans in the municipalities. Unfortunately, the fact of signing the Alborg Charter does not necessarily imply the execution of LA21, and vice versa, the decision depends on the initiative of the town or city council and the autonomous community has no influence. There are many different initiatives taken in sustainability. This could be point as one of the problems. Adversity on different initiatives instead following an unifying strategy, with specific requirements for each area but a global policy. The coordination of all sectors is necessary. The bodies of which depend the Sustainable Tourism are the State Tourist Office of the of the Minister of State in of Trade, Tourism and Small and Medium Companies, of Department of Economy and Treasury, and the Environmental Evaluation and Quality Office, and the Environmental department are responsible of Sustainable Tourism in a national level. In a local level it is a responsibility of each Distraction of the Autonomous Communities and city halls but a remarkable lack of cooperation between them. Another main problem is that municipal budget allocations for LA21 are insufficient. A strategy of coherence at all levels is urgent. An inadequate information, inadequate co-ordination , limited range of regulatory instruments in coastal zone management and unsatisfactory policy implementation and inadequate monitoring and evaluation of policy performance. Intervention failure may also result from the relative influence of different interest groups. Town and city councils are also frequently subsidise to launch LA21 programmes mainly to produce their own diagnose or environmental audits. Administrations, tour operators, hoteliers, regional authorities, construction companies, municipalities they all pass the buck, but nobody seems to be about to admit their own part of responsibility. The allocation of this responsibility is one of the difficulties for implementation.

There is quorum only in that the hardest part of sustainability is implementation. But the time has come to move from defining ST, to begin to consider how it may best be implanted in practice. All players in the tourism arena should stop arguing on defining ST and start moving from defining to beginning to consider how it may best be implemented in practice. I have found some very simple but very helpful initiatives like ASTA's Ten Commandments, in first instance they seem too obvious, but unfortunately, when travelling we can observed that in very few cases are respected. In terms of construction there is an argument between two trends of thinking. Which tourism is more sustainable? House development with low density (with green areas) or house development with high density (which concentrate tourist in less space), (Iribas defends Benidorm in those terms). Probably none of them, and the right thing would be improve locals' facilities and their quality of life.

To end I include a very short, graphic and poetic definition given in B, Bramwell book on tourism: “we do not inherit the earth from our forefather but borrow it from our children”. Sustainability should be considered always in all aspects of life.


BRAMWELL, B et al (2003) (eds) Sustainable tourism management: Principles to Practise, ninth edition, Tilburg University Press, Tilburg.

WILLIAM, F THEOBALD (2005)(ed) Global Tourism, third edition.

Rob Harris, Tony Griffin and Peter Williams, (2002) (ed) Sustainable Tourism a global perspective.


'Sustainable tourism'