Recently I attended the Forum Turistic, a technologic event that we have in Barcelona where during two days they talk about many solutions to raise the tourists satisfaction and at the same time, think about how technology can be an ally for sustainable tourism. But, can technology help sustainable tourists? Let’s see.
Many companies presented different interesting apps, for example, Greencostumers’ app promotes hotel rooms that have a system installed measuring the quantity of energy and water consumed, so you can do a good use of these resources; eCooltra showed their electric motorbike fleet that with their app you can check the nearest one and move through Barcelona without emitting CO2; Coquos prepares a local healthy food pack that consists of different Catalan products and traditional recipes, so if you stay in an apartment with a kitchen you can reserve through their web a pack and try to do the dishes by yourself.
All of these ideas may help travelers to plan their holidays in Barcelona while taking care of the environment. But, are sustainable tourists attracted to this technology? In other words, do they need these apps to spend a sustainable holiday? I think for most people the answer is no. First, because they have awareness about not wasting a lot of water and energy, and they will probably choose an accommodation that implements these measures in all the building, not only in some rooms; second, they prioritize the use of public transport and foot versus individual transport; and third, maybe they won’t stay in an apartment with a kitchen, because it’s better to stay in real local accommodations, that way the money remains within the community.
In addition, have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of our smart devices? For example:
- According to The Restart Project, Iphone 6 emitted 95 kg of CO2 during its entire lifecycle.
- To send 1 email represents 4 grams of CO2, the same as to go by car for 15 meters. So, if you send 66 emails, is like driving 1 km.
- To receive 1 spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2, the same as to go by car for 1 meter. So, if you receive 1000 spam message, is like driving 1 km.
- The fact that humanity sends a lot of data through their smart devices and computers (for example, sending emails and whatsapps, searching in google, changing the profile picture on Facebook, etc.) it represents 2% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases.
Do you think it’s necessary to check your email during holidays? In fact, there’s a tourist trend name unplug or technology detox, that consists on disconnecting during holidays, and people look for remote accommodations without WiFi, in order to live and experience the moment.
Technology and the apps I mentioned can help reduce environmental impact of human day to day activities and services, and will help regular tourists be more aware of their environmental footprint when they travel. At the same time, it may be useful to build a better tourist infrastructure that’s more environmental friendly. But, in my opinion, sustainable tourists don’t need an app to know their water consumption, what they need is to find trustful information about sustainable tourism.
In conclusion, nowadays there’s a lot of misinformation and greenwashing in sustainable tourism, especially when it comes to technology, and we need to know how to differentiate between what’s really helpful and what’s just a fad. In addition, we must not forget that technology contribute to the global emissions of greenhouse gases, so we have to do a good use of it.
If you’re a sustainable tourist, what do you think of these apps? Would you use them? Leave me a comment with your opinion!
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