Superclubs, package holidays, cocktails. These are some of the words that we think of when you mention Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca or Formentera. These 4 islands of the Balearics have all of those things but they have so much more. How about responsible, eco, and sustainable? They are not the first things that come to mind when you think of the Balearic Islands. However, these 4 islands are at the forefront of sustainable tourism in Europe and I’m going to show you why you should visit them ASAP.
Why The Balearic Islands Are At The Forefront Of Sustainable Tourism
Our travel ethos at globalhelpswap is “We believe that enriching travel respects a destination’s heritage, environment and inhabitants. Let us show you how to experience culture and adventure in a sustainable way“. This is exactly what is happening on the Balearic Islands with the help of the sustainable tourism tax. In just a few years that tax has raised €204 million euros with all of the funds going back to the islands heritage, environment and inhabitants. Let’s take a look at some of the projects that the money has helped.
Management and Restoration of Cami de Cavalls
This is probably my favourite project. The Cami de Cavalls is an ancient horse trail that goes around the island of Menorca. Over the years the trail eroded and private estates would not allow access for walkers. The trail mainly goes around the coast of Menorca and on it, you can see the different ecosystems of the island. With the money from the eco-tax, they have made the trail more accessible and now tourists are flocking to this 185km long trail. I only walked a bit of it and I fell in love with it instantly. We intend to return to walk a lot more of it (just don’t let Karen know!)
The fund has helped convert many farms on all 4 islands to the organic system with is a lot more sustainable for the land and better for the wildlife.
Promotion of Electric Vehicles on The Balearics
Like most countries, Spain is slowly phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles. As the Balearics are autonomous they are pushing the promotion of the electric vehicle quicker than most with over 1,000 charging stations being installed over the next few years. The local councils are also replacing their vehicles to electric which will improve the islands air quality massively.
Protecting the Mediterranean Posidonia Seagrass around the islands
The Mediterranean Posidonia Seagrass is an endangered seagrass on the IUCN red list. This grass is vital to the Mediterranean Sea. More than half the oxygen we breathe comes from the sea and the Posidonia seagrass is called the lungs of the Mediterranean. The Sustainable Tourism Tax is helping to preserve and increase Posidonia around the Balearics not only helping the wildlife and water clarity but our lungs too!
Creating Mountain Refuge for Hikers
The Tramuntana area of Majorca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see when you visit the island. As the area is becoming more popular with hikers this project is to repurpose rooms in a beautiful heritage building to use as refuges. I can’t wait until they are completed because I will be one of the first customers.
For more ideas on what to do in Majorca check out this post: How to make the most of Majorca
Cultural Heritage Projects:
In one area of Majorca, there used to be over 1,000 mills dotted around the landscape. The aim of the Mill sponsorship is to restore the mills to their former glory and learn about traditional techniques and practices.
Restorations of the defence towers on Menorca
These ancient defence towers were built by the British in the 18th century. This project is to halt the erosion of the towers, preserve them as they are and to respect the original construction processes so visitors can enjoy the towers in a semi-ruined state.
Restoration of the walls of Alcudia
The town of Alcudia on Majorca was one of my favourite spots on the island. The medieval old town is beautifully preserved and is full of shops, restaurants and bars. The sustainable tourism tax has helped restore the ancient town walls that once encircled the town. From what I saw the project has been a big success. I met tourists from all over enjoying a gentle stroll on top of the walls. This project is a perfect example of how locals and tourists alike can benefit from Sustainable Tourism practices.
There are so many incredible projects going on all over the islands that I could have a dedicated website devoted to them. Lucky enough the Balearic Islands have created one themselves. Please visit http://www.illessostenibles.travel/en/home-en to see more of the work going on to make the Balearic Islands one of the most sustainable destinations on earth.
Tax. The 3 letter word that is universally disliked. (Except if you work for the tax office). Without tax though we wouldn’t have free public healthcare, schooling or sanitation. (I know not every country has these basics) and interestingly most people are happy to pay more tax when it comes to healthcare.
How about if you had to pay a tax to help protect the environment and cultural heritage of a destination you visit? That is exactly what the Sustainable Tourism Tax of the Balearic Islands is doing. On their website, you can see where all the money is going and what each project costs. I only wish more destinations were doing it. I would happily pay the tax to help them achieve their sustainability goals.
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This post is part of a gifted trip to promote the Balearic Islands and highlight the benefits of the sustainable tourism tax. Although all views are my own and I have not been instructed what to include.