Concept for sustainable tourism
To make the field of tourism more sustainable. That means to make the things sustainable that separate the tourists from the islanders.
To do this, two fields are distinguished; activities and use of tourists.
This is about activities that most tourists do. According to (Gemeente Texel, 2013) most tourists do: Walking, cycling, shopping, going to the beach, visit Ecomare, eating out, visit family, do sports, work, visit a museum, visit the lighthouse and expierence nature. Those activities are way too broad and differently focused to be captured in one plan for making it sustainable. Places as Ecomare, restaurants, museums and hotels have their own different ways of being sustainable, this will make the activities of tourists sustainable too. Besides, a lot of those places are already sustainable, think of the Zelfpluktuin, the Texelse Brewery and a lot of restaurants are already for example making use of merely local products.
Tourists use electricity, heat, cold, food and water. Islanders have the same needs. Of course there should be a sustainable solution for all those needs, like green electricity, earth warmth and local food. But these uses are not what divides tourists from islanders. That does not mean that it is less important, but the field of sustainable tourism should focus mainly on tourism.
Conclusion; use is not specially part of tourism but an overall concept. Activities are for a big part already sustainable and not coverable by one approach. This is captured in scheme below.
Figure 1 (own image)
So how to come up with one overall covering approach for tourism? If tourists visit a lot of sustainable places and initiatives the holidays could work as a catalyst to get used to being energy saving etcetera. Therefore it is important that sustainability is as clearly visible as possible, important is to focus on chains. It should be in some way visible that the bread the tourists eat in their hotel in the morning comes from a bakery they pass on their bicycle an hour later and that the grain for this bread originates from a grain field they pass in that afternoon. When they switch on their lights in the evening it should be visible that the origin of this energy comes from either the wind turbines or the solar panels on the roof. In short, these chains should be made visible. It should be no effort for the tourist to get grip on these chains, maybe they even experience it subconsciously. Connecting chains and network is the biggest issue with sustainability. This is very hard to achieve but maybe the chains on an small island as Texel can be made easier comprehensible. Visitors will get aware of those cycles and get used to it. In this way it will work as an example and catalyst for the mainland. An island is self-sustaining at the moment when every cycle is closed on the island itself, this must be made visible. An idea could be to give tourists staying in a certain hotel discount on a visit to connected suppliers like a brewery or a bakery. A side advantage of our concept is that unclosed chains will be noticed. For example a restaurant will discover a supplier of apples from the other side of the island while he is still getting his apples from the mainland, they can connect. This will at the same time have a positive effect on their imago because they have another “local connection”. Hotels and restaurants will do their best to make more and more connections on the island and less on the mainland, this accelerates achieving the goal of becoming self-sufficient.
Because there are so many different important elements in being sustainable, deciding whether something is sustainable is difficult because sometimes the chains are not transparent. We thought everyone should have the opportunity to establish for tourists themselves whether they think a tourist attraction is sustainable or not. To be able to do this, people should be well informed. The difficulty in this is that the way to convey this information should be interesting and easily readable; when you're on vacation you don't want to go through a pile of information before choosing your restaurant.
There are many different ways to make our idea come true. On this stage of our design we assume that the best way to arrange everything properly would be something similar to a “map”. It can be a map, booklet with different maps or application for the smart phones or even some signs or routes marked, or anything else directly integrated into the island environment itself on different scales. However, making it clear and easy to use is the main goal for every of these cases. Therefore we decided to look into the map creating techniques and principles and see what we can use for the proposal in case of our sub-system.
Most important is to define what your goal is and who your audience is. It is important to have clear objective and message. It is necessary to think how many people and how they are going to use the final product. According to our idea we want the final product to be used by both local people and tourists, as our main goal is to connect both these groups and make them work together. The tourists can make decisions such as where to stay, where to go, what and where to eat, based on the information and the sustainability chains highlighted in our design. In our vision the system also must work as an example/catalysator for the mainland. If tourists see that the sustainability chains are connected within the island, they could think of solutions for their own city or neighbourhood. On the other hand, local people can be aware of the network available on the island and make the decisions of how they want tourists to see their hotel, restaurant, etc. Do they want to have an image of restaurant that uses local products or maybe it is a restaurant that uses renewable energy and therefore it is sustainable in other way, but the aim of our design is to make it clear for tourists.
Our final product should be organized in a way that it is clear and understandable for the user. It is important to plot the information in several layers, where main and additional information are distinguished. That should cost no efforts from tourist’s side and maybe it can be done even on subconscious level. It has to be defined which would be the best way to organize and make the proposed idea to work the mostly efficient. This is something we have to decide after more research is done. Moreover, the end result has to be clear and simple to use. Therefore it is important to decide which information is important and relevant and which information should be kept away.
Also we should think about privacy aspects, because some of the chain parts might not be willing to be exposed and seen by the competitors. We should think how to keep all the actors in the chain unique and make them all benefit of such a design.