In 2012 there were 57,9 million tourists in Spain, that spent 55.777 millions euros in the country. The sector amounted for more than the 10% of the 2012 Spanish GDP. However, the Spanish consumerist-style tourism industry has a negative impact on the environment. It caused the overexploitation of the Spanish coast, the destruction of forests, biodiversity and ecosystems and an increase in water consumption, waste creation (due to huge hotels), an increase in carbon emissions from transportation via big buses and private cars, as well as an increase in water contamination caused by large cruise ships etc.
In addition, tourism also has an impact on economic, social and cultural environment as it has destroyed in some areas all economic activities but the touristic ones, making entire areas completely dependent on this sector and altering their cultural traditions and social dynamics. If tourism in Spain is to remain a central economic activity, solutions to the unsustainable and overcrowded current model are needed more that ever.
In this context, several initiatives have appeared, claiming that “different holidays are possible”. Agrotravel, Viajesresponsable, Soyecoturista, Ecolodge or “Senderos y Pueblos” are some of the nowadays great range of sustainable travel agencies promoting sustainable, responsible, fair, ecological or agricultural tourism. We have picked Senderos y Pueblos as an example of a small Spanish travel agency that promotes sustainable tourism by offering active holidays in tune with nature. Among others, the agency puts forward holiday packages that adhere to values such as:
The agency offers a great variety of routes in different little-known regions of Spain, selected for their natural beauty, history and culture, but also trips to other countries like the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, all meant to offer tourists sustainable holidays' alternatives.