More Bike Paths, More Trails: the Sustainable Tourism Strategy in Portugal

Here in Portugal, we can expect to see major improvements in extending bike paths and walking trails, for starters.

The European Travel Commission (ETC) has unveiled a plan to develop sustainable tourism across the continent, with the goal of transforming tourism practices to benefit both the local and the traveler while improving the quality of the environment and conserving natural and cultural treasures within each country.

 “The traditional model of tourism, that is, the way the sector has developed in Europe over the past 50 years, is at a tipping point…it is imperative to integrate sustainability into national strategies and ensure that this goes beyond tokenism, to make a real and tangible difference at all levels,” ETC President Luís Araújo says in a statement.

Within its 53-pages, a handbook entitled Sustainable Tourism Implementation: Framework and Toolkit outlines four main directives: preparation, developing targeted solutions across all sectors, getting certified, and promoting each project while continually evaluating and improving it. 

Here in Portugal, we can expect to see major improvements in extending bike paths and walking trails, according to Susana Cardoso, director of Visit Portugal Ireland. 

“Turismo de Portugal launched the ‘100% responsible’ feature on its site, portuguesetrails.com, which displays cycling and walking programmes in Portugal, allowing customers to be informed about the sustainable practices underlying each programme and therefore helping customers to make more eco-conscious decisions… From North to South, as well as in Azores and Madeira, the variety of cycling trails offers a wide diversity of experiences for touring, road or mountain bikes,” she tells Atlas.

In response to the ETC’s guidelines, Visit Portugal produced a video to celebrate the changes we can make today to ensure a better tomorrow. 

The UN World Tourism Organization conducted a global survey among its panel of tourism experts on the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the expected time of recovery. According to their research, Europe is expected to have recovered by 48% in the third quarter of 2021, and only 38% by 2022, but the research was carried out in January, before the most recent lockdown, so there is still debate on whether these estimates will be on target. 

The handbook’s recommendation for the recovery from the COVID pandemic is to directly invest in green infrastructure and strengthen local supply chains, as per The Gobal Sustainable Tourism Criteria and the European Green Deal. Each country will be using Slovenia as a model, as they are considered a pioneer in integrating sustainability into all levels of its tourism, but it’s unclear when these initiatives will begin to see the light of day.

Either way, it’s probably best to take your bike in for a tune-up. 

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