The Government of the Canary Islands presented the next European Convention of European Tourist Islands in Brussels on Wednesday, an event to be held in Gran Canaria on 1 and 2 December in search of a “common EU tourism policy” that takes into account the particularities of the islands “from the outset” when designing a more sustainable tourism model.
In the islands’ delegation to the European Union, the Canary Islands’ Minister of Tourism, Industry and Trade, Yaiza Castilla, explained to Efe that the aim of this convention will be to bring together European tourist islands and the private sector to jointly discuss common “concerns and issues” with a view to adapting the tourism sector to the green and digital transitions.
“We have seen that we can also join the two great axes of transition that will undoubtedly lead us to a more competitive, higher quality and more resilient economy“, said Castilla, who expressed her conviction that these transitions will achieve “social, economic and environmental sustainability for all the citizens” of the European islands for which tourism is an important source of income.
The objective, the Councillor stressed, is “that all the European tourist islands join together” and that “a voice is agreed upon in Europe so that the difficulties and also the strengths that we have are understood (…) and, therefore, from the first minute that a regulation comes out, our peculiarities are taken into account”.
Connectivity, sustainability and climate
Among these challenges is, for example, the connectivity of the islands with the rest of the continent from where a large number of tourists travel, with the emissions associated with air transport that this entails.
The Councillor indicated that one of the points of debate will be precisely how they can compensate for this carbon footprint, how they can fight against climate change or achieve climate neutrality, but “without harming the regions that obviously live off tourism”.
There will also be space, he added, to address the impact on tourism of extreme weather phenomena, which are becoming increasingly common due to climate change and are already affecting many of the most touristy islands in the Mediterranean, such as the Balearic Islands, but also the Italian and Greek islands.
“It is true that we have a warmer climate, but we are also here to join in the defence of what other European island regions need,” said Castilla. “That is precisely what we are here for, to join forces, to join everyone’s concerns, worries and requests, so that we all come to Europe together to be taken into consideration in these matters”.
Convention: 1 and 2 December
The Convention, organised by the Canary Islands Government together with the Association for Research, Study and Excellence in the Tourism Sector in the Canary Islands, will be held at the ExpoMeloneras Conference Centre in Maspalomas on 1 and 2 December and will be attended by multinational companies such as Telefónica, Atos and Amadeus.
“The situation resulting from the pandemic opened a window of opportunity for the European Union to reinforce the vision of tourism as a decisive sector in the economy and social development of the continent and its islands,” Castilla said during the presentation event on Wednesday in Brussels.
The event will address “the need to define new competitive tourism models to face the challenges and obligations” in terms of ecological transition, reduction of the carbon footprint, use of more sustainable resources or digitalisation and modernisation, the Canary Islands government said in a statement. EFE