Ecotourism has been popular since 1980s and its aim is to focus on responsible travel, to promote water conservation, energy efficiency and recycling. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where cultural heritage, flora and fauna are the primary attractions. It is an alternative way to the tourism we are used to.
In Spain it was introduced in 1990s and offers different options. You may volunteer on an organic farm, go birding in Spain’s wetlands or cycle through the white towns of Andalucia.
Spain is the 4th largest producer of wind power in the world. Wind turbines are scattered throughout the hills of the country. Such cities and Madrid and Barcelona promote renewable energy and have an eco-friendly attitude. There are specially designed glass walls to reduce the electric energy and solar heating panels in El Prat airport in Barcelona. Madrid is known for having numerous parks and gardens and being the largest green zone capital in Europe. Rural regions of Spain also contribute to the environmental awareness of the country. Europe’s first commercial solar power station can be found in white towns of Andalucia. Select destinations not only promoting cultural awareness but also helping to minimize carbon footprints and supporting community interaction.
After choosing the destination, find accommodations that thanks to its energy-saving policies protect the environment. Among the options to choose from are eco-friendly hotels, hostels, monasteries, farmhouses. When booking ask for eco-labels such as Smart Voyager Certification, Sustainable Tourism certification or the Green Globe. In Barcelona there is a pretty famous environmentally-friendly hostel called Urbany. It recycles about 50% of guest’s water in conjunction with rainwater harvesting. In Madrid there are lodgings following “reduce, reuse and recycle” principle.
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities. You may work on a vineyard or an organic farm. To re-establish bearded vultures in Andalucia’s Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park volunteer through Global Vision International. There are plenty of natural tourism programs that assist the travelers to find local communities to help them in wildlife conservation.
Even Spanish transportation system is ecologically friendly. The famous AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola) high speed train is a perfect way of transportation for both locals and visitors. It is really fast and convenient. It will take you from Madrid to Barcelona in less than three hours. For now the network of Alta Velocidad Espanola is going to expand and according to all predictions by the year 2020 nine out of ten citizens of Spain will live within 30 miles of a rail station. Even public buses in the country work on bio-diesel, electricity, ethanol and hydrogen fuel. Public bike rental services are great alternatives for the travelers especially in Barcelona and Sevilla. There are more than 250 stations where you may rent and then drop a bike throughout the city.