Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Sustainable destinations or high energy consumption tourism?

Written by Michel Neumuller avec le Plan Bleu on Friday, November 2nd 2012 à 10:07 | Read 781 times

MEDITERRANEAN. In complement to work on energy and tourism in the Mediterranean region supported by the European Investment Bank, the Plan Bleu has just presented the results of its two topics. This work questions the notion of the ‘sustainability’ of tourist destinations, and opens up avenues to explore in terms of potential investments and the development of tools.

Projects which consider these territorial issues can generate improvements for these communities (Plan Bleu DR)
Projects which consider these territorial issues can generate improvements for these communities (Plan Bleu DR)
The case of mass tourism in the Mediterranean demonstrates the level at which infrastructures within the tourism sector (transport, accommodation, leisure activities) are consuming energy and natural resources. On one hand, it poses the question of arbitrating between uses and, on the other hand, the question of load capacity reinforced by seasonality. Conversely, projects which consider these territorial issues can generate improvements for these same communities. 
This document forms the basis of a long-term project which the importance of tourism in the Mediterranean calls for. Can it really strengthen local development, or will it further disconnect the sector’s energy needs from those of economies and populations? 
“We are optimistic” said Ferdinand Costes, Plan Bleu  ’s Energy Programme officer, “realising energy optimisation proves to be easier in principle in a hotel than in a standard service industry office. Decision makers are identified, and more is known about the uses”.

Energy consumption will increase

The very design of projects must be reviewed (MN)
The very design of projects must be reviewed (MN)
Even so, there is a whole host of hotels scattered along the Mediterranean cost whose design and operation do not take this data into account, according to the authors, the very design of projects must be reviewed. “Constructing buildings which consume less energy also allows us to make use of local expertise and materials which are often better suited to the project, and therefore to contribute to local job creation”. 
From a less optimistic perspective, the two heads of the Plan Bleu mission reckon that “whatever the scenario, electricity consumption is continuing to increase to a high level. The impact this has in terms of the need to produce electricity, which today means carbon energy, is real. There are however possible opportunities for relying on local renewable energy sources”. 
How can we manage these situations without giving up the profits expected from a tourism economy? “There are thresholds that we have to be aware of”, explains Loïc Bourse, Plan Bleu’s Tourism Programme officer. Below these thresholds, tourism benefits a territory without being detrimental to its population. Beyond them, we have to ask: should this project be launched? 
The “sustainability thresholds” therefore have to be defined, and the two heads of the mission know that beyond this study, serious forecasting work is needed.“Scenarios and simulations should allow us to better understand when a destination is sustainable, and when it is no longer sustainable”. 

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