Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Tourism is one of the most important industries in Europe, it supports a huge number of people through the provision of employment and helps to fuel growth in many areas across the continent. This impact is amplified on islands where in many instances the industry contributes over 50% of GDP, this can cause conflict between the need for economic development and the need to protect the local environment.
Civitas Destinations project was launched in 2016 with the aim of decreasing the carbon footprint of tourism, specifically related to the area of mobility and transportation, it is bringing together 11 European Countries and a total budget of close to €20 million.
What is Civitas?
To know more about this project, we must first know what the CIVITAS initiative is. CIVITAS is a network for cities which, since its creation on 2002, has been focused on creating a better transport system in Europe, by making it cleaner and more efficient. To date, over 800 transport measures in more than 80 European cities have been already tested and applied successfully. Upon the approval of Civitas Destinations, two more projects belonging to CIVITAS were also approved, named Civitas Portis and Civitas Eccentric.
What are the goals of Civitas Destinations?
The main goal behind the project is the demonstration of the effectiveness on innovative sustainable solutions to transport challenges in tourist cities, remembering how important mobility is to enjoy leisure activities in tourist places. The coordinator of the project Horários do Funchal will be working with ARDITI (Regional Agency for the Development of Research, Technology and Innovation), the Municipality of Funchal (CMF), AREAM (Madeira Regional Energy and Environment Agency) and the Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture (SRETC).
Six cities with different characteristics will be joining the project. The cities are all on European islands: Funchal (Portugal), Limassol (Cyprus), Rethymnon (Greece) Portoferrio + Rio Marina (Italy), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain), and La Valletta (Malta). They are all very popular tourist destinations and that is why they have been selected to be part of the project.
Sustainable transport for residents and tourists
Security and attractive in public spaces
Reduction and elimination of carbon emissions in public transport
Smart, green logistics in tourist destinations
Creating awareness for sustainable transport
Making public transport green, efficient, and accessible
Each of the islands has slightly different challenges and will therefore be trialling and piloting different aspects of the project. One thing that I really like about this project is that it is not only focussed on the tourist. The tourist is at the end of the supply chain, but there are a lot of pieces that come in before that, but focussing on the behaviour of local citizens and the businesses that supply the tourism industry they are taking a more holistic approach – this should stand them in good stead and allow them to learn a lot from the different projects.
Islands have a lot to lose or gain by adopting greener and smarter mobility strategies. If they do nothing and destroy their local environment then it is likely that tourist numbers will fall, but if they take the lead and make big changes then they will protecting the environment, this should have a positive impact on tourist numbers and deliver growth to the local economy.