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What is regenerative tourism?

Everyone was happy when the Covid-19 travel restrictions ended and people were able to travel again. Famous tourist spots were once again full of visitors, providing a long-awaited boost to the tourism industry. But after enjoying two years of quiet, destinations quickly realized that being constantly overcrowded is not the best option, and more importantly, the sustainable option.

Increasingly, traditional tourist hotspots are turning to a quality over quantity approach, implementing measures to combat overtourism in a bid to keep local scenes as they are. Venice is famous for introducing a reservation and tax system this year to limit the daily number of visitors. Sardinia is also introduction of tourist taxes during the busiest summer season. French Polynesia is simply introducing a annual tourist cap of 280,000 people, while Mallorca foresees reduce the number of hotel rooms available to only 430,000 on the entire island.

Although sustainable tourism is based on the idea of ​​not altering the places that are visited, there is an additional step that can be taken in the right direction: regenerative tourism.

Sustainable tourism is a kind of low bar. At the end of the day, you’re just not making a mess of the place. Regenerative tourism says, let’s make it better for future generations.

Jonathon Day, an associate professor at Purdue University, said The New York Times

The term “regenerative” has been used before. In architecture, agriculture, or other development, it has been a way of showing a certain action concerned with restoring and regenerating something to its previous state. A better state. And the same goes for regenerative travel and tourism. Instead of leaving things as they were, the trip has a positive impact.

“Regenerative travel is proactive and intentional, enhancing or enhancing an area, rather than simply sustaining it, and ensuring the greatest positive impact is achieved as a collective – using the power of travel to transform lives, offering restorative and immersive experiences that giving back to our planet and empowering our people at the same time,” described Grant Woodrow, director of business development operations for Wilderness Safaris.

Members of the Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism (NECSTour) have already recognized the importance of regenerative tourism, creating in 2018 the Barcelona Declaration “Best Places to Live Best Places to Visit” to respond to the concerns of residents about the use of territorial assets for tourism. Since then, the well-being of local communities (society, environment and business), as well as the climate emergency and business innovation, are driving the transformation of their tourism strategies. This is also reflected in their governance models and marketing approach, moving from a sustainable tourism approach to a regenerative model based on values.

To deepen the principles established in the Barcelona Declaration, Catalonia and NECSTouR organized a conference that showed how the territories could meet the objectives of the Tourist Transition Routeon the basis of which theRegenerative Tourism Person Ecosystem” report was created. The results of the event are presented through characters that represent all the actors of the destinations (Destination Management Organizations: DMOs, companies, associations, the local community, the visitor and the place) as part of a living system.

© NECSTour

Each “person” is described through its changing characteristics and factors and is accompanied by real-life cases that make the descriptions even more concrete. Multiple descriptions of people and their characteristics appear to overlap, highlighting the interconnectedness of the tourism ecosystem.

The report and its findings will be presented to destination leaders on March 16, during NECSTouR’s two-day masterclass.”Empower destination leaders to deliver sustainability“, taking place in Lanzarote.

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