Blog | The way forward in eco tourism
Text and photography: Marcel Baltus
Like most people I recently boarded a plane to my holiday destination for the summer holiday. During that flight I didn’t feel remorse about the fact that I was affecting the environment. Even more so, I didn’t give it a thought for even one second. It’s not that I don’t respect the environment, but come on, buying of your guilt with air miles for some random tree to be planted across the planet – that’s just not my cup of tea. If it had been a tree planted in my own backyard then yes. I would then be reminded daily of how well I am treating Mother Earth. The sun on the Spanish Costas is just as good as the sun on the tropical Caribbean islands or the Seychelles which – from my perspective as a Dutchman – are much further away. So, shall I just stick to holidays in Europe because it’ll save a tremendous amount kerosene emission? No, I place the prime responsibility for ‘clean’ flying – cutting airline pollution – with Boeing, Airbus and all the other aircraft builders and airlines. Let them invest in new, cleaner and more silent engines and alternative fuels. The first national carrier or charter airline that takes off in a jet running on solar power can count on me as a future passenger. Might this be the futur of eco tourism?
No, if you want to persuade the holidaymaker himself to contribute to reducing the carbon emissions, than the idea is not to bribe them but rather offer them enough satisfaction that matters. I myself am very fond of walking holidays which is – apart from the transfer to and from the destination – a fairly ‘green’ way of travelling. Especially if you compare it to fly-drive-holidays. During those hiking days I am consciously aware that I am not producing any carbon emission. No matter how minimal my contribution is, I was kind of overwhelmed with that ‘oh I am being al eco-friendly’ feeling during my latest summer holiday. The destination was Formentera – a small island off the coast of Ibiza (Spain). To reduce the car usage on the island and stimulate eco tourism the authorities have priced the ferry tickets extremely high which definitely makes you think twice about taking your rental car across.
This island – part of the island group the Baleares – however is not that small that you can walk around it. The scooter definitely is the main type of transport but having seen my fellow hotel guests with bruised arms and legs in the lobby, my enthusiasm for this mode of transport evaporated. Alright, so due to circumstances I opted for the 100% electric car – a Citroën Mehari. Not only is it a funky little car – pedestrians will turn their head when you cruise along the boulevards of mundane beach resorts , it also gives you a fantastic driving experience. Quiet, powerful and definitely an eye-catcher for tourists. I could not have imagined that each day I would be faced with the dilemma of choosing between going to the beach or cruising around the island. My partner and I were overcome with this childish and euphoric feeling when passing the petrol stations, honking loudly and grinning from ear to ear to those fools filling up their cars and scooters with petrol. Our hotel had a charging station for electric cars where our ‘canary’ (the nickname of our little green and yellow ride) was charged overnight so we could happily and guilt-free tour the island again the next day.
What an unexpected and amazing experience. Zero emission, 100 percent satisfaction. Isn’t it time to take the pressure of the aviation industry a bit and focus more on those car and scooter rental companies and what they can contribute to eco tourism? I can’t even imagine how much carbon dioxide all these petrol and diesel vehicles worldwide will emit at all of those holiday destinations. Just like the aviation industry is responsible for innovating cleaner aircraft, the rental companies should take a look in the mirror and start working more expeditiously to offer (much) more electric cars to the tourists. Because I am pretty sure that it now is around 0.1 percent of their total fleet. Let them start with these smaller isles where driving distances aren’t super long and where the local authorities will be convinced of the importance of placing charging stations.
I assure you, the first car rental company that will offer a lot of electric vehicles will have these rented in no time. All the cars are gone, not so the customer. He or she will return the vehicle with a proud feeling and will come back next time saying: ‘I’ll take the electric one’. Because this type of eco tourism is just super fun. As John Travolta already said in the ‘70s: it’s electrifying! Win win. Smile smile.
This blog originally appeared on www.baltuscom.nl