The island of Gran Canaria and its tourist destination are committed to positioning itself in the European market as a more sustainable tourist destination. With this challenge, the Cabildo's Department of Tourism began, at the end of 2021, its commitment to sustainability within the Biosphere system, an international methodology for the management, recognition and certification of sustainability created by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI). The island has obtained, in recognition of the effort made in this area, the distinction as a 'Biosphere Certified' destination after passing an audit process, which has recognized its commitment to sustainability, and that of part of its business fabric, based on its contribution to the 17 SDGs and 169 goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030, and has thus been placed among the 15 European destinations with the highest number of accommodations with sustainability certification.
On January 25, coinciding with the second day of the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid, the secretary general of the Responsible Tourism Institute, Patricio Azcárate Díaz de Losada, will present this distinction to the president of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, and the councilor of Tourism of Gran Canaria, present at the event in Madrid with the tourism sector.
Patricio Azcárate explained that "In an increasingly conscious market, the commitment to sustainability projects a clear message of adaptation. Biosphere allows and facilitates the connection between destinations, business network, citizens and tourists to improve the sustainable practices implemented, and helps to create synergies that are a fundamental step towards a more responsible future".
For his part, Councilor Carlos Álamo stressed the importance of making visible the efforts made to provide the destination with new tools and the growing value of these attributes in today's tourism market, "especially valuable for a new tourist client with environmental sensitivity that is beginning to become a majority in Europe and who is looking for accommodations and destinations that do not have a negative impact on the environment. Therefore, these certificates, like the ones that tourism companies can obtain, become a decisive factor when planning and choosing destinations and accommodations".
Álamo pointed out that there are currently 38 companies with this seal of quality in sustainability and many more immersed in the certification process, thanks to the fact that they have joined the Biosphere program, demonstrated that they are aligned with the 2030 Agenda through the platform offered by this entity. "This places us as one of the destinations with the highest number of certified accommodations and allows us to make visible with little effort some attributes that many of these already had so the process is simple. In this scenario we need the maximum involvement of the business network and, although the response is massive, we encourage companies that have not yet done so to join this international platform".
The Cabildo de Gran Canaria, through the Department of Tourism, joined the 'Biosphere Destination' program in December 2021 with the priority of adjusting its tourist destination to the three pillars of sustainability: socioeconomic, environmental and territorial; in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations. It has since passed positively an RTI audit that ended last December 20.
The final report assessed, among other things, the Cabildo de Gran Canaria's own initiatives on sustainability issues such as the organization of gastronomic days in days to promote sustainable product, respect and dissemination of regulations related to the protection of water ecosystems, and a labor policy whose pillars are fundamental labor principles and rights.
Initiatives and entities such as the transparency portal of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, which plays a fundamental role in the publication and dissemination of regulations related to the protection of ecosystems and the rules of use and management, were evaluated positively. For example, from the Department of the Presidency and General Affairs Service, the Code of Ethics and Good Practices of the Taliarte Marina, approved in 2021, is published. Another positive example is the LIFE COSTAdapta Gran Canaria project, an initiative organized by the Department of Environment, Climate, Energy and Knowledge of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, which aims to adapt the coast of Gran Canaria to the effects of climate change, especially rising sea levels, through the implementation of innovative measures based on nature and culture.
The Marine Debris Free Oceans campaign of the Department of the Environment and Emergencies aims to raise awareness and inform about the problem of waste that pollutes the seas and affects both biodiversity and the environment.
Also noteworthy is the Tourist Loyalty Program included in the 2022 Action Plan of Gran Canaria Tourism, which aims to increase the loyalty and spending of regular visitors to the island, through actions such as: offering advantages and discounts on tourist services, sending personalized and segmented communications, creating an online community of loyal tourists, conducting satisfaction studies and consumer habits, and organizing events and activities exclusively for this segment.
Gran Canaria Tourism considers it essential in the development strategy of its offer and in view of the business opportunity that sustainability implies for the new international client, to value many of the existing virtues of the destination and the development of others to attract and retain a client committed to the environment and who prioritizes the impact of the tourist footprint through a sustainable proposal linked to active tourism, of recognized international prestige and which also aims to attract a younger client.
"Gran Canaria is a modern destination committed to the conservation of its nature, as this is our main attraction together with the good climate, and also with a sustainability that implies respect and good relations of this industry with the society that hosts it. We believe in ethical, environmental and social values, and we understand that an important part of sustainable economic development is not to exceed the limits of arrival in a fragile and limited geographical territory," added the minister.