Egadi project, a pilot model for sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism refers to tourist activities that take into account the environment, culture and population of the area involved. In most cases, the term is used to refer to tourism in the Third World or in the Developing Countries, but, more generally, it can apply to an idea of tourism that does not cause any damage to natural resources and environmental heritage of our Planet.
Sustainable tourism is defined by two key elements:
- Respect and protection of the environment, ecosystem and biodiversity, by minimizing the environmental impact of tourism-related facilities and activities;
- Respect and protection of traditional culture of local populations and consent by these populations to the tourist activities implemented, with their involvement in the management of these activities in order to share any related socio-economic benefits.
However, can tourism sustainability be considered as a strategic value for economic development and competitiveness, as well as a driver for territorial development and promotion? The answer seems to be positive.
The Egadi Project is funded by the Finance Act 2010 and subsequent changes included in the Finance Act 2011, by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) and implemented by ENEA under “Ecoinnovation in Sicily – Support to the development of production activities in Southern Italy: pilot measures for sustainability and competitiveness” in collaboration with the Municipality of Favignana, the islands of Marettimo and Levanzo, and the Egadi Islands Protected Marine Area (AMP). This is the first sustainable tourism project developed and certified by a scientific institution and it was set up to create a model of eco-compatible management of services and the territory as well as to make the tourist offer more competitive. This area includes 53,000 hectares of precious and fragile ecosystem that make the Egadi Islands the largest marine protected area in Europe.
The intervention by ENEA focused on waste reduction, with the setting up of a composting plant in Favignana for the treatment of the organic fraction of waste and the production of fertilizers through waste separation, treatment and re-use of waste, by setting up a ‘house of water’, for wastewater.
ENEA has patented a procedure (which won the Green Coast Award 2013) for the management of beached Posidonia oceanica residues, which is essential for the marine ecosystem since it can absorb CO2 and provide an ideal habitat for the reproduction of a number of fish species, planting them on the seabed to increase their population.
Moreover, an environmental quality label was created and implemented by the Egadi Islands Protected Marine Area for local enterprises that start a process of improvement and reduction of the environmental impact of their activities. Today, 60 enterprises have already been certified.
ENEA has also carried out training and information activities in schools, as well as a mapping of the hydrogeological risk of the area, and has developed 28 underwater itineraries for Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo, collected in the two volumes “Itinerari sommersi delle Isole Egadi”, published on the website egadi.santateresa.enea.it.
Thanks to the many activities carried out under this project, there has been an increase of 7% in the number of visitors in the Egadi Islands, an area where every year in the summer the number of inhabitants goes from 4,000 people of the local community to over 400,000 visitors.
The Egadi project won the Smart Communities Award at SMAU Milan 2015, and the extremely positive project results were presented during the conference “Sustainable Tourism as a Driver for development and valorisation of the Territory – The Egadi Project, a highly replicable pilot model”, which was held in Rome on 24 November 2015.
The event, opened by Commissioner of ENEA Federico Testa, featured Senator Pamela Orrù of the Italian Senate Committee for Public Works and Senator Stefano Vaccari of the Committee for Environment, who signed the Draft Law “Measures for the Growth of Small Islands. Island Lab”, Giannina Usai, Secretary-General of the National Association of Small Island Municipalities (ANCIM), Ottavia Ricci, Sustainable Tourism Adviser of the Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini, Carlo Corazza, Head of the Tourism Unit, Directorate-General Internal Market, Entrepreneurship and Industry (European Commission), Maria Carmela Giarratano, Director-General for Nature and Sea Protection (Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea), Antonio Barreca, Director-General Federturismo (Confindustria), Alberto Corti, Head of the Tourism Unit of Confcommercio Imprese per l’Italia, Mila Spicola from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Alberto Versace from the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion, WWF Italia President Donatella Bianchi and Marevivo President Rosalba Giugni, the Director of the Egadi Islands Protected Marine Area Stefano Donati, Favignana Island Mayor Giuseppe Pagoto and Roberto Morabito, Director of the ENEA Department for Sustainable Territorial and Production Systems.
“The model that we have developed is highly replicable and adaptable to the varied touristic realities in Italy – said Roberto Morabito, Director of the Department that developed the project – The measures that we have implemented have contributed to the protection of the environmental resources and reduced the pressure on natural resources. We have also achieved an increase in the number of visitors and an extension of the summer season from April to October, with a positive economic impact”.