Nautical tourism, an attractive and environmentally friendly alternative
The nautical sector is one tourist activity that is recovering quickly, thanks to its characteristics as an outdoor, COVID-safe activity. In addition, the purchase of both new and second-hand boats has experienced significant growth.
From the user’s perspective, it is an experience that allows a mix of adventure and connection with nature and marine wildlife. Added to all this is the possibility of practising this type of tourism without crossing international borders.
On the other hand, coastal tourism is a very important source of income for island communities, and sailing allows them to visit destinations that do not receive many tourists. It is a great opportunity to bring income to quieter destinations and reduce the impact of mass tourism on others.
The possibility of sailing using renewable energies, living life on board and disconnecting from the world are making a boat trip more and more seductive.
As floating caravans or trading vessels, sailing also helps as a means of transport, facilitating a carbon-lite route access to lesser-known destinations and supporting their economies by transporting provisions.
These boats harness the wind to move, and often generate their own water on board through desalination systems, in turn operated by photovoltaic panels, making it a sustainable means of transport.
Having positioned boating as a leisure activity available only to “elites”, boating is now experiencing an era of much greater accessibility, with houseboats in harbours, shared ownership boats and even options to rent a boat moored in a marina through AirBnb.
The possibility of being able to go boating, or even owning a boat, is much more realistic these days. Click and Boat offers “the option of sailing all year round at affordable prices on shared boats with a small group. You get all the advantages of owning a boat when your leisure time allows and none of the disadvantages associated with boat ownership.”
Easier sports such as stand-up-paddle, wing foil and freediving, which generate neither noise nor chemical pollution in the water, are environmentally friendly. They offer the possibility of interacting with nature and can be practised alone or in a group. Another very important advantage is that you don’t need a lot of equipment. They are relatively easy, compared with the time it takes to get a boat skipper’s licence, and they are also more accessible. SUP (stand up paddle) in particular, is considered a suitable activity for almost all ages, where you could even take your pet dog, or in combination with yoga classes.
Kayaking, SUP or wild swimming have become very popular in recent years, as they are inclusive activities that almost everyone can do. They can be sociable, fitness-oriented and can offer therapeutic lifestyle benefits.
Wild swimming is a particularly booming trend in the wake of COVID’s periods of lockdown. It promotes access to unknown places of great beauty, with the promise of adventure and, of course, the chance to get fit.
The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism serves as a guide that leads us towards tourism that respects all stakeholders, the natural and socio-cultural capital of destinations. In this sense, the ocean, considered for centuries as the ‘garbage dump of the planet’, is now gaining more recognition as an environment that there is so much to understand how to protect. Where we used to hear a lot about ‘blue growth’, we have now moved on to ‘sustainable blue growth’.
“Tourism resources belong to the common heritage of humanity. The communities in whose territory they are located have particular rights and obligations with respect to them. Tourism policies and activities shall be carried out with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, which they must protect and transmit to future generations. Particular attention shall be paid to the protection and rehabilitation of monuments, sanctuaries and museums, as well as sites of historical or archaeological interest, which should be widely open to tourists.”
In this sense, the ocean can be considered as a “tourism resource”, and natural heritage such as underwater landscapes, as interesting for divers, as the marine life that excites tourists who go out to watch whales and dolphins.
According to Sustainable Development Goal 14 “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, it states:
“Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at present, there is a continuing deterioration of coastal waters due to pollution and ocean acidification which is having an adverse effect on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Protecting our oceans must remain a priority. Marine biodiversity is vital to the health of people and our planet.”
According to Agenda 2030: “Drive transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people to our ocean.”
“Following Cop26 and with the undoubted recognition that carbon turns out to be the main consequence of global warming, our pathway is now going to force us to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing air miles. It is now time to extend our horizons by sea, a respectful tourism towards the ocean, a tourism that benefits us all.”