An interview with Beth Cobo, a Med Pearls expert on sustainable tourism in Catalonia.
Beth Cobo is a sustainable tourism consultant from Catalonia at the company Trescàlia. An incoming travel agency specialised in the sale of tailor-made package tours for groups and individuals in the region of Pyrenees-Costa Brava, in Catalonia. Recently, her company and herself have been declared the winner of the Star Awards of Europarc 2021-2022 in the category of Contribution to Preservation for her package "Walking on the landscape". A product developed within the project Destimed+ that follows all the sustainability criteria of the European Charter for Sustainble Tourism in Protected Areas.
In this interview she will share her insights on sustainable and slow tourism in the Mediterranean, as well as her experiences as collaborator of the Med Pearls project in Catalonia.
MP: What is your main contribution and participation in the Med Pearls project and the Breathing Land brand?
Beth: My participation in the Med Pearls project is mentoring the DMCs from the 3 pilot areas in Catalonia: Anoia, Les Garrigues and Ribera d’Ebre. My main contribution has been helping them to create Slow Tourism packages taking into account sustainability issues and characteristics according to slow tourism demand.
MP: How do you think Slow Tourism contributes to sustainable tourism practices and the preservation of natural resources and landscapes?
Beth: To get in contact with locals, their natural and cultural heritage is one of the goals of Slow Tourism. Furthermore, it is also a goal to improve also the guests’ experiences while helping local communities to preserve and value their local heritage. It also contributes to social and economic sustainability as it improves the preservation of natural resources and landscapes.
MP: What are your thoughts on how important it is for DMCs and TAs, particularly from the Mediterranean, to incorporate the concept of Slow Tourism into their services?
Beth: Mediterranean destinations have more to offer than sun and beach. Slow Tourism, sustainability and wellbeing are increasing the demand all over. It’s a great opportunity for DMC’s and TAs alike to show all this world of possibilities, with very high quality. Like the different slow tourism experiences developed in Catalonia that offer interesting and sustainable alternatives to classic trips at destinations like Barcelona or the different Costas.
MP: What things should a service company, like an accommodation or an activity provider, consider when wanting to attract slow travellers?
Beth: First thing a service company has to consider: sharing the passion for their land (natural and cultural heritage). It isn’t necessary to build a decorate. To share with your guests the way of living and to welcome them to have the similar experiences is a great way to make them feel as locals. Very important: less is more. So it is important to make sure they have time to talk with their tourmates and relax. To be able to increase your life experiences transforms you.
MP: Is the Catalan market ready to host and promote Slow Tourism?
Beth: Definitely yes. Les Garrigues, Ribera d’Ebre and Anoia are wonderful regions with no label of touristic places. They don’t need to transform themselves, just the way of living, the landscapes, the gastronomy and local products are the highlights for Slow Tourism. It’s just needed to package it and to promote it. In my opinion, we’ll see soon slow travellers falling in love with this part Catalonia.
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