Nature Tourism in Tenerife. Sustainable Tourism
Not Sustainable Tourism, Bread for Today and Hunger for Tomorrow
Whether it be for aesthetic reasons or because we are victims of trending topics of the moment, an increasing number of visitors demand touristic destinations that offer activities that are labeled ECO, responsible or sustainable. Nature Tourism in Tenerife has the opportunity to use this demand as a source of wealth or discard it and join the low quality tourism sector.
It is clear to anyone who opens their eyes that the objective of any exploitation is to obtain the benefit; the higher the benefits are, the greater the exploitation is. The way to reach that profit maximization is what concerns us.
As was highlighted in the Sustainable Tourism Manifest signed by those attending the World Conference on Sustainable Tourism, Lanzarote 1995, the touristic development of a region is a prop for the economy and a unique opportunity to showcase their own local values that favor the rapprochement between cultures through direct contact. While, in comparison, low quality tourism brings environmental degradation and loss of local identity.
Ecological Tourism maintains the premise of sustainable utization of tourist resources. Any mechanism of tourist exploitation that does not safeguard the initial status of the resource is, in itself, a predator and unconscious mechanism. Sustainable utilization of a resource is related to sustainable development and as pointed Capace, 1997, sustainable development means “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Requirements of Sustainable Nature Tourism
Government agencies are the primary managing authorities of touristic resources and have the responsibility to ensure the collective interests of society by encouraging the implementation of sustainable development, it is due to the fact that the desire to maximize the benefit has the ability to blind the concerned person. Institutions must provide the necessary resources to ensure the viability of holdings, i.e. the resource to be used must be maintained over time so that future generations can use it. This is what sustainable tourism means. For this to be achieved, first of all a manager must analyze what is the capacity of load of the tourist system.
For example, examine wild life watching in the Canary Islands, it seems essential to know the status of the populations affected by the presence of tourists and the kind of contact they have with the animals or plants. Only scientific criteria can address the answer to this mystery. A touristic exploitation of natural resources without basic research is like building a house without a foundation, the more elevation it takes, the greater the fall.
In Tenerife we have excellent research teams at the University of La Laguna and the laborious work of associations and NGOs for the conservation and diffusion of natural values and biodiversity. In the exploitation of whale watching boats we have the work of Tonina Association (http://asociaciontonina.com/). Recent work published by them on pressure vessels on cetaceans should be included in the mandatory training that any responsible company should have.
link to MITCALD PROJECT
2- Development of Sustainable Tourism Management Plans
Once you have the information on the state of conservation of the resource, the number of interactions that the system can tolerate without damage can be calculated. Again, a holding in which the state of conservation of resources is known and does not limit access to this resource is likely to believe that the natural resource is infinite, which is not true in the vast majority of the cases. Going back to the analogy of the house, simply having a foundation is not enought, if it is weak the results will be the same. The managing authorities of natural resources need to be the referee that, using the tools of scientific evidence, puts in a set of mandatory rules.
3- Control Mechanisms
Not knowing the characteristics of the exploited resource (management plans, regulations etc.) cannot be an excuse to use without control. Any company that operates a faunal natural resource, for example, has the responsibility to know the limits of their exploitation and capacity of pressure its application can support without affecting the welfare of the species and their reproductive viability. No one would ignoore traffic rules as an excuse to drive at 150 km / h in the immediacy of a school. As previously mentioned, the need to obtain higher profits can blind the company that exploits a resource. Administration should put a set of mandatory rules, control mechanisms and sanctions to safeguard the interests of all future generations to avoid this.
Unfortunately history has already given us too many examples testifying that this idea has come too late.
Canary biodiversity is a source of unquestionable wealth. Businesses such as whale watching, bird watching, or guided tours in national park have generated jobs and wealth, but the human tendency to break every toy that they play with is threatening the survival of these species, the survival of touristic resources and the ability to pass it to future generations.
In Tenerife in 2005, gross tourism revenues accounted for more than 4000 million euros, so if the main source of wealth of the region is battered and is not sustainable we will be condemning misery to all future generations. It is our role to judge whether the level of exploitation of tourism resources meets the criteria for stability and sustainability demanded by the international community.
It would be naive to think that the responsibility ends in who provides a service. It is vital that the awareness of values related to the conservation of natural spaces and tourist resources reach the entire society as well.
Only a responsible tourist, who knows what they want and how they want to travel can contribute to the conservation of natural resources. Those responsible for implementing this “medicine” are also government agencies. Government agencies need to promote and support univocally the holdings which are part in sustainable tourism, such as Turismo de Tenerife (http://www.webtenerife.com/) that tries to promote the local values with sustainable companies.
In Atlantic Eco Experience (www.atlanticecoexperience.com) we have a firm commitment to these principles and we try to be conformed as much as possible to this philosophy. We want to share this niche with responsible and sustainable companies that allow visitors to the islands to take a unique taste and the concern and care for the preservation of natural values, both in the canaries and their place of origin.
We participate in the many informational forums such as the xmigrations.com platform that aims to integrate eco-responsible destinations with activities that impact positively on the resources exploited through partnerships with local NGOs related to research or disclosure as Tonina Association.
Responsible Tourism in Tenerife
Another example of a responsible company that uses the resources of nature is the diving school Fly Over. On board of the Yacaré, its historic boat, you can learn scuba diving with experienced professionals who are actively working with recovery and conservation of the marine environment through its association Oceano Sostenible (http://www.oceanosostenible.eu/).
Another ecologically sustainable activity is doing bird watching tours with real experts in the field. Birding Canarias (http://birdingcanarias.com/).
The island also has nature tourism companies covering a huge range of services. This is the case of Teno Activo (http://www.tenoactivo.com/). A multidisciplinary team offering activities like kayaking, paddle surfing, trekking etc.
CAPECE, G. (1997) Turismo sostenido y sustentable. Una visión holística. Agencia Periodística CID, Buenos Aires.
If someone is looking for nocturnal outdoor activities in a unique environment. Tenerife Sky at Night (http://tenerifeskyatnight.com/) is a great choice. Professional guides organize astronomical starlight tours at the foot of the summit of Teide observations. One of the most special places in the world for stargazing.
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Where we are
We are located at Puerto Colon (Pantalan 4), in the South-western Coast of Tenerife Island.