The Hotel and Extra-Hotel Association of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, Ashotel, considers the latest agreement of the Council of Europe in relation to the so-called ‘green’ tax, from which the Canary Islands and the other outermost regions (OR) are excluded in their air travel with the European continent, to be very positive. This has been a unanimous demand from a large part of the public and private sector in the Islands, which understands that the Islands do not have an alternative to air travel and that tourism is the main driver of employment and wealth in the Canary Islands.
“This tax could make air tickets to European destinations with the Canary Islands more expensive by an average of 50-60 euros,” says President Jorge Marichal, who describes the news as “excellent” and highlights “the arduous negotiation” carried out in European institutions to achieve this tax exemption. From now on, he adds, “we have to continue working on another related issue: CO2 emission rights”.
This type of decision greatly affects smaller, more independent products, “without realising that it jeopardises a singular and differential offer that makes us unique: sustainable products that are close to the territory”, explains Marichal, who adds that “it is those products with less accommodation capacity and a personalised offer, both hotels and rural houses, as well as small establishments, whether in Tenerife or in the so-called green islands, that are affected because the cost of transporting a German to their destination becomes impossible for the average family”.
In addition, Marichal commented that the private tourism sector in the Canary Islands has been working for a long time to make Europe understand the idiosyncrasies of the Islands, an archipelago whose only means of connection with the continent is by air. In this regard, he recalled the recent General Assembly of Hotrec, the European hotel employers’ association, which met at the end of April in Adeje and whose representatives were told precisely this reality of the Islands.
“But it is not enough to ask the national or European level to understand and support the uniqueness of the Canary Islands in terms of sustainability, but we, as a tourist destination, must make efforts to preserve our environment, making the necessary adjustments to the current model to improve it, but without renouncing the only sector that has allowed the Canary Islands to emerge from an endemic situation of economic backwardness and progress,” explains Marichal. “Our aspiration must be to compensate 100% of the carbon footprint generated by our activity and help all companies operating in the tourism sector – both accommodation and non-accommodation – to join in this commitment that concerns us all,” he adds.
Ashotel continues to deploy its Tourism Sustainability and Digitalisation Strategy launched in 2019 with the development of projects of interest. In addition, it recently signed up to the Glasgow Declaration and is currently working on the drafting of a climate action plan with the aim of making the destination carbon neutral by 2050.
Likewise, the hotel employers’ association has been spearheading for years the need to install collective renewable energy generation projects (photovoltaic) and provides advice to members in this area. Linked to decarbonisation, it is also working on sustainable mobility with the implementation of on-demand transport technology and car/bus sharing for staff working in accommodation establishments.
Likewise, in terms of circular economy, the hotel employers’ association has promoted, together with Asaga Canarias and the collaboration of other public and private organisations, the ‘Circular Tourist Communities’ project for the reduction of food waste and recycling of bio-waste, through the generation of top quality compost that returns to agro-ecological farms and then improves the consumption of zero-kilometre products.
Currently 12 hotels in Adeje are involved, with good results, and the number of participating establishments will soon be increased; the aim is that in the future this project will be extended to the whole island of Tenerife, as waste management and the circular economy are key objectives for progress as a destination.
“Sustainability, as we understand it at Ashotel, is worked on day by day through the development and subsequent implementation of projects that have an impact on a more sustainable destination; it is not the result of occasional declarations”, concludes Jorge Marichal.