Med Pearls interview to an Italian tourism expert on Slow Tourism
In this new article, we invite you to read an insightful interview with Ms. Debora Sanna, the President of Mediterranean Pearls NGO and creator of the MED PEARLS brand. Mediterranean Pearls NGO is an organisation that shares with those working for territorial development, a common culture, language and history that has stratified over time into monuments, works of art and nature that constitutes the excellence of 'Made in Italy'. The Med Pearls they seek in the Mediterranean are open, welcoming and hospitable societies, capable of solidarity when in need, and conviviality in prosperity. They are laboratories of the economy of beauty, portions of the Bel Paese that are challenging the crises -financial, economical, health- by focusing on a renewed ability to feel community and to tell 'stories of beauty'.
Q. What and how good is the near future for MED PEARLS in Italy and the Mediterranean?
A. Participating in the ENI CBCMED 2014-2022 call for proposals has given a decisive boost to the development of the Med Pearls brand, which has been borrowed from the sustainable tourism philosophy of the well-known Alpine Pearls International Cooperation, our partner in many fine projects for the development of sustainability and soft mobility along the Alpine arc. With the Med Pearls Project Cooperation, born thanks to ENI CBCMED, we have been sharing activities for over two years to graft the philosophy of slow travel green in territories in Catalonia, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Greece. This is to ensure that the educated, curious tourist who loves slow travel will be able to perceive the Mediterranean as a place not only suitable for beach and coastal tourism, but as a place to explore and experience inland, lake and river areas, and historic villages that can offer a lot in terms of intact natural landscape, healthy food linked to the Mediterranean Diet, and in terms of soft mobility. This is one of our main leitmotifs, not only for its intrinsic ecological and environmental sustainability values, but -above all- as a lever of social innovation, capable of establishing virtuous relations between local communities and communities of travellers who must be united by the objective of zero pollution at 360°.
Q. How do you do sustainable tourism in the Med Pearls?
A. Sustainable tourism takes into account the environmental, economic and social impact, including the future, meeting the needs of the traveller, the eco-tourist who likes to have fun and not destroy. Cultural enrichment and relaxation travel together with attention to the means with which one moves, where one sleeps, what one eats, and which itineraries one chooses so as not to damage the environment. A responsible, eco-frendly holiday idea in the Mediterranean: that is our goal.
Q. Sustainable tourism involves the so-called 'green investments' on the part of hosts.
A. Yes, green investments increase the energy efficiency of accommodation facilities and improve the management of water resources and waste collection systems, as well as promotes caring for the land, its biodiversity, and the cultural heritage of each Pearl visited.
Q. What actions are particularly relevant for Italy?
A. Certainly the protection and enhancement of the cultural heritage, one of its undisputed strengths, and the care of the territory. In short, not only do sustainable holidays improve the Mediterranean, they help the operators who promote them and the local communities concerned. From being a phenomenon of custom, they are becoming an indispensable resource for the local economy, an opportunity for all.
Q. Sustainability, as we were saying, also passes through 'eco-friendly' mobility that involves tourist itineraries on foot, by bicycle or with electric vehicles.
A. Lovers of trekking and walking along the paths of the Mediterranean Pearls have always respected the philosophy of zero-emission travel, which has also been embraced by those who choose to follow the historic pilgrim routes, such as the Via di San Benedetto in our pilot area in Sabina-Reatina. For those who love bicycles, there is the option of the electric one, which allows one to cycle, for example, on Etna Vulcano and Alcantara Valley, another Italian pilot area, avoiding physical fatigue on the climbs, and if the two wheels are not enough to move between the villages of the inland areas close to the pilot areas, one can use the electric car, but always favouring car sharing.
Q. How do you determine the most effective objectives to achieve tourism sustainability in the different territories of the Mediterranean Pearls?
A. In order to achieve this degree of sustainability, it is necessary first and foremost to make the local community and operators participate in a conscious and responsible manner by training them to contribute to the constant monitoring of the environmental, economic and social quality achieved.
Q. How do you present yourself to sustainable tourism markets?
A. Presenting yourself to markets in that sector means having the will to pursue large-scale sustainability policies, combining the use of regional planning tools with others that act at local and city level. It is predicted that by 2030 the Mediterranean will rank first among sustainable tourist destinations with 500 million holidaymakers, according to a study by The European House Ambrosetti. Italy, with good reason, should be a candidate to lead the process of creating, implementing and disseminating a sustainable tourism development model for the Mediterranean. Despite a growing interest in sustainable forms of tourism, the sector still remains based on the exploitation of the natural, economic, social and cultural resources of destinations. Regarding the challenges of the future, the fact remains that tourism is among the sectors most exposed to climate change and, at the same time, contributes 8% of greenhouse gas emissions to it.
To meet the goals of sustainable tourism, it will therefore be necessary to protect diversity and protect tourist motivations, promote diversity and create new opportunities for eco-holidays.
Q. From Med Pearls to Breathing Land: what is the future for the ENICBCMED Medpearls Project pilot areas after April 2023, when the project ends?
A. In 2023 Mediterranean Pearls NGO will hold an international forum on slow travel in Rieti, the province of Latium's pilot area, Sabina, and on that occasion the project will come to a close, presenting the results achieved and the travel packages created in the pilot areas of the partnership. It was decided to give the final project the name Breathing Land to brand the packages prepared by the Lazio and Sicilian travel agents who benefited from the contributions of the ENI CBC MED Call for Proposals and some of these are already important on the international market.
Communicating that one 'breathes' in the Mediterranean holiday lands gives a special richness, has its own special articulation, and a power of suggestion that can stimulate the traveller. Breathing does not only contain that hissing sound and open vibration that we imagine in it, but it makes us perceive the lasting alternation between the wave and the undertow of the sea and thus fully describes the atmosphere of the sustainable, simple, quiet and pure holiday that one experiences in the Mediterranean. In the pause as the holiday is, the breath returns to take its space, makes the chest expand, succeeds in dampening the chaos. In the Italian Med Pearls, we give a lot of weight to the breath, understanding how natural it is to consider the rediscovered possibility of breathing as a relief. The breath in these Pearls invites one to raise arms, makes one large and present, and prepares a strong voice, giving a powerful and capable sense of freedom. Breath holds life at the base, and higher up it also holds the lofty natural architectures of the Mediterranean lands.
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