The UK And Spain’s Travel Industries Unite At Second Edition Of ‘Spain Sustainability Day’ - TravelMole

The UK And Spain’s Travel Industries Unite At Second Edition Of ‘Spain Sustainability Day’

Sunday, Apr 21, 2024 0


The Spanish and British travel industries were united in the second edition of ‘Spain Sustainability Day’ which took place both in person at The Conduit, London, on 18 April 2024 and via live streaming.


Manuel Butler, director of the Spanish Tourist Office in London, officially opened the event, outlining the special relationship between the United Kingdom and Spain and the objective of creating dialogue between the two countries to transfer knowledge in the field of travel and sustainability. He outlined Spain’s tourism ambitions of season extension; with peak season visits dropping 1% year-on-year from 45% to 44%, and geographical diversification, with Spain’s Northern regions driving a larger tourism share in 2023 (up 23% year-on-year).


The dual language conference, moderated by Richard Hammond, director of Green Traveller productions and sustainable travel writer, included speakers from across Spain and the UK’s travel and transportation industries with panel sessions on circular economy, biodiversity and accessibility.


The event was sponsored by Visit Benidorm, part of the Region of Valencia, and the Balearic Island of Mallorca. Leire Bilbao, director of Visit Benidorm outlined the city’s 18% reduction in water-usage over the last 25 years, despite a 40% population growth, whilst Susana Sciacovelli, director of tourism (demand and hospitality) at Mallorca Council showcased the island’s responsible tourism pledge and roadmap towards transformation.


Circular Economy


The first panel featured Gabriel Llobera Ramis, marketing and communications manager at Garden Hotels, Nadine Pinto, global sustainability manager at The Travel Corporation (TTC), Carol Rose, head of sustainability at ABTA, and Coralía Pino, head of Sustainability at ITH (Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero).


The session stressed how now is the time to adjust our mindsets and employ disruptive thinking. Carol Rose reiterated the need to keep products in the industry for longer and touched on the impact of the hotel industry contributing not just to food and energy waste but also to textile landfill which accounts for a total of 92 million tonnes of waste per year.


Coralia Pino discussed Spain’s initiatives within the hotel industry outlining how the 2008 crisis forced hotels to look at energy efficiencies. She reminded delegates that food and energy expenditure are the second and third largest cost areas of all hotel operations, therefore emphasising how circular economy is vital, both for business and the environment. Likewise, Nadine Pinto discussed the impact of hotel merchandise and making bolder choices around in-room amenities.


Gabriel Llobera Ramis from the Balearic-based Garden Hotels showcased the group’s pioneering organic waste management and compost production, as well as the need for public policy with the Balearic Island archipelago recently initiating its ‘law of circularity’ for all hotels across the islands.


Biodiversity – impacts and Interventions


The second panel featured Terry Brown, destinations programme manager at The Travel Foundation, Dylan Walker, wildlife tourism expert at Wildlife Heritage Areas, Blanca Pérez Sauquillo, SG marketing at Turespaña, José Marí Olano, Councillor for large projects, Valencia Green Capital and Zina Bencheikh, managing director at Intrepid.


The panel discussed biodiversity in tourism and how tourism is critical in terms of connectivity and education. The emphasis was on community in wildlife tourism and creating respectful bonds between wildlife and visitors with valuable initiatives, such as MEET (Mediterranean Experience of EcoTourism), creating a network of protected areas that are collaborating to engage communities locally in nature conservation.


Blanca Perez Sauquillo discussed the need to also educate the conscious consumer with digestible and effective messaging, while Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director of Intrepid said “it’s about doing the right thing and educating our customers.  They don’t always know the right choice until we offer it.”


From a more urban context, José Mari Olano discussed Valencia’s status as Green Capital 2024 and how cities can adapt their tourism proposition and urban planning to benefit both residents and visitors.


Accessibility & Inclusivity


The third and final panel was moderated by Meera Dattani, senior editor at and travel and culture writer and included Angus Drummond, CEO at Limitless Travel, Alberto Gutiérrez Alberca, Valladolid traffic and mobility executive, Miguel Carrasco, director of tourism at Impulsa Igualdad, and Susan Deer, director of industry relations at ABTA.


The session started with an inspiring Spanish welcome from Spain’s ‘Spain for All’ ambassador and special guest, Ade Adepitan, who has lived, worked and travelled throughout Spain.


Quoting the World Health Organisation figures, Adepitan highlighted how 1.3 billion people worldwide (or 16% of the global population) have some kind of disability. He said, “whilst not all of these people want or have the means to travel to Spain, even if we’re only talking about a small percentage, this is still a vast number of people that should be given the opportunity to enjoy what millions of non-disabled people enjoy every year, the beauty of taking a holiday.”


Angus Drummond, CEO of Limitless Travel, talked eloquently about his own personal travel experiences which inspired him to subsequently set up Limitless Travel. He said, “ultimately people with disabilities are the same as other consumers, whilst yes, they may need an adapted bathroom, they also want a great travel experience, a great bar and essentially the same as every other customer.”


Alberto Guitierrez from Valladolid talked about the progress being made within urban transportation, and the need for digital accessibility, whilst both Miguel Carrasco from Impulsa Igualdad and Tur4All, and Susan Deer, head of Industry Relations at ABTA stressed the importance of information, transparency, and training.




Keynote speeches were delivered by Nejc Jus, Director of Research at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Charlie Cotton, Founder of Ecollective Carbon.


Nejc Jus showcased the WTTC’s latest tourism data with the 2023 global indicators putting the tourism sector’s worth at 9.9 trillion US dollars and 1.63 trillion visitor-spend. Forecasting ahead over the next ten years, the WTTC expects tourism to represent 11.4% of the global economy and 12.2% of all jobs. The data also looked at environmental and social factors from across 185 countries indicating that in 2019 when tourism was at its peak, the tourism sector contributed 8.1% to Greenhouse Gas emissions with transport accounting for the largest part of these emissions.


The final keynote hosted by Charlie Cotton from Ecollective started with the carbon impact of tequila, beer and wine and looked at reduction through design, taking into consideration our transport, food and hotel choices. His motto ‘progress over perfection’ was an important takeaway as well as his recommendation is to “get obsessed with your number”.


Manuel Butler, director of the Spanish Tourist Office (UK) says:


Thank you to everyone who has played a part in this important event. We were delighted to touch on so many important topics within our sector and hear from so many experts in the field. It really is a fantastic opportunity to share important learnings from across the sector with a specific focus on these two major travel destinations”


The afternoon conference was followed by Spain’s Media Awards opened by the Spanish Ambassador and recognising the best travel content by UK writers showcasing themes which correspond to Spain’s sustainable tourism pillars.  Prior to the media awards, a ‘Special Recognition Award’ was presented by Lyn Hughes, founding editor of Wanderlust Magazine, to Luis Gallego Martín, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), for his part in creating the roadmap to becoming the first global airline group to commit to becoming net zero by 2050 and the first European airline group to set the target of 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030. Further details and a full list of winners and runners-up are available here.

Learn more about Spanish Tourist Office

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