Sustainable Tourism 2016
7th International Conference on Sustainable Tourism
18 - 20 May 2016
The 7th International Conference on Sustainable Tourism took place in Valencia, co-organised by the Polytechnic University of Madrid, represented by Professor F. Pineda; the Wessex Institute of Technology, represented by Professor C.A. Brebbia; and the Polytechnic University of Valencia, represented by Professor J-L Miralles-Garcia.
Sustainable Tourism 2016 is the latest meeting organised in this successful series. The first was held in Segovia (2004), followed by Bologna (2006), Malta (2008), the New Forest, home of the Wessex Institute (2010), A Coruña (2012) and Opatija, Croatia in 2014.
Today tourism is an important component of development, not only in economic terms but also for knowledge and human welfare. Tourism has long since ceased to be something just for the privileged few and today is an activity accessible to a growing number of people.
The phenomenon has many more advantages than disadvantages. New forms of economic development and increasing wealth of human societies depend on tourism.
The tourism industry has nevertheless given rise to some serious problems, including social costs and ecological impacts. Many ancient local cultures have practically lost their identity. Their societies have oriented their economy only to this industry. Both the natural and cultural – rural or urban – landscapes have also paid a high price for certain forms of tourism. These problems will persist if economic benefit is the only target, leading to economic gains that eventually become ruinous.
Sustainable Tourism 2016 aimed to find ways to protect the natural and cultural landscape through the development of new solutions which minimise the adverse effects of tourism. This can be achieved through new strategies involving the active collaboration of society as a whole.
Situated on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and has the biggest port on the Mediterranean Sea. A large historic city centre makes València a popular tourist destination with many ancient monuments, museums and sights of interest. Traditionally, visitors have been drawn to the region for its food with "Paella" having originated from the city. In recent years the city has seen an increase in tourism due to the "The City of Arts and Sciences", project designed by Valencia’s own Santiago Calatrava. The structures house an IMAX cinema, Europe’s largest aquarium, interactive educational exhibits in the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and the avant-garde opera house. Furthermore, it also displays the impressive l’Assut de l’Or bridge and the Agora. Valencia was an ideal location for the Sustainable Tourism Conference.
Opening of the Conference
Professor Jose Luis Miralles i Garcia opened the Conference, welcoming the delegates to Valencia and pointing out the importance of this town for the area and in particular the beneficial effects of tourism for Valencia in the last few years.
It is important however, Jose Luis said, to be aware of the dangers that tourism can present for the environment. Coastal areas are most at risk, not only because of visitors’ preferences but also due to their delicate ecological balance. Overdevelopment can damage those areas to a point where they are no longer recoverable. Typical examples of over-development are in the Murcia coastal region and the classical example of Benidorm.
The general aim of tourism development now is not to increase the number of visitors, but their quality in order to protect the landscape and environment. This has led to the concept of Green infrastructures for the coast.
Regional tourism policy in Valencia is to arrange for green spaces connected by ecological corridors. A project now under way aims to classify the area as protected and take steps for this to happen, trying to correct incoherent existing policies.
Prof Carlos Brebbia introduced his Institute, explaining the motivation for organising this and other conferences with different institutions.
WIT’s particular area of expertise, Carlos said, lies in the development of advanced modelling techniques for the analysis of complex engineering and scientific problems. This is a field in which the Institute is well known throughout the world. The applications of such tools are extremely varied and one of the reasons for the success of WIT’s inter-disciplinary approach.
A way in which WIT disseminates knowledge is through the publication of all conference and journal papers in Open Access form. This ensures maximum dissemination to the work presented at conferences such as Sustainable Tourism 2016.
The Conference programme was enhanced by the inclusion of several invited presentations, starting with a keynote address by one of the Chairmen, ie:
- “Green infrastructure in Mediterranean Valencian coast” by Jose Luis Miralles i Garcia, Polytechnic University of Valencia
- “Technical efficiency in dairy farms conducting educational tourism: An approach by stochastic frontier production function” by Yasuo Ohe, Chiba University, Japan
- “Tourism Today” by Francisco Pineda, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain
- “Gaze toward seashore—Comparative analysis between Europe and Japan” by Hiroshi Kato, Hokkaido University, Japan
- “Relevance of local architecture for destination choice in Austria” by Ulrike Probstl-Haider, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria
The other substantial number of papers were grouped under the following session headings:
- Planning and Development
- Marine and Coastal Areas Tourism
- Adaptation and Sustainability
- Tourism Strategies
- Environmental Issues
- Tourism and Technology
- Cultural and Heritage Tourism
The Conference dinner took place in one of the best restaurants in Valencia offering typical dishes accompanied by regional wines. Valencia is famous for the quality of its rice specialities (the renowned Paella) but there is a variety of excellent dishes, some of which were served during the dinner. Carlos referred to the importance of the Conference and in particular the number of different countries represented. He believes that the most important aspect of WIT meetings is to bring people together and increase the communication and interaction between delegates.
At the end of the meal, the delegates were given a gift to remind them of the occasion, ie a book with excellent illustrations showing Valencia and its adjacent region.
There was another dinner held for the members of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to express the appreciation of the organisers for their help in reviewing abstracts and papers. Ways to improve the Conference were also discussed with the aim to reconvene it in 2018.
Closing of the Conference
The Conference was closed by Carlos who, after thanking the delegates for their contributions, invited them to continue to collaborate with WIT and to visit its New Forest Campus next time they are in the region.