Valencia is the first city in the world to certify the Carbon Footprint of its tourism activity. It is also European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022. Read what has been done , what products and services that are in line with sustainability are in place.
Grażyna Grot-Duziak: Maria.. Your fantastic city of Valencia has a lot of experience and success in implementing various sustainable development initiatives. When did it start and what were the first ideas?
Maria Terren: In 2020, València decided to be involved in the Missions 2030 project, an innovation and governance system to improve the city and the life of those who live there. The first “mission” will be the Climate Mission which aims to make the city carbon neutral over the coming decade.
Besides, our Sustainability Plan details how we are working closely with the public and private sectors to develop a number of initiatives, from the creation of a Sustainable Tourism Observatory to individual measures to reduce the use of plastic or encourage the consumption of local produce.
Sounds interesting, I consider that both, communities locals and visitors can benefit of these initiatives.
The València 2030 Climate Mission benefits everybody who lives in València and its metropolitan area, as well as those who visit for work, to attend an event or on holiday. It is about building a healthier and more sustainable city for future generations. But even now, residents can already enjoy a more user-friendly and liveable city, with ample green and pedestrianised areas, and cycle lanes to encourage a more sustainable and healthy means of transport. Older people, and those with health problems, particularly breathing problems, will benefit the most.
Do tourist benefit from these eco-solutions? if yes which are the most appreciated?
Tourists love our green spaces, like the Jardin del Turia, or the Albufera Natural Park, and also find it really easy to explore the city on foot or by bike, enjoying our beautiful weather as much as the historic sites. They can also find plenty of fountains to fill up their water bottles, and shady pedestrianised areas to take a break from sightseeing.
Do you think that the introduced solutions have contributed to an increase of interest in your tourist offer? Do you measure it in any way?
In 2020 Valencia became the first destination in the world to measure and certify its tourism carbon footprint, subsequently doing the same for its water footprint, two milestones that have helped give the city international recognition. Amongst others, it was designated European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022 by the European Commission, an achievement that has firmly put the city in the spotlight.
In addition, Valencia was voted best place to live by the InterNations Expats portal, and the British consultancy Money.co.uk ranked it the healthiest city in the world to live for two consecutive years, in 2021 and 2022.
Which of these initiatives and products would you particularly recommend for incentive groups?
- Use our new fresh and chilled water fountains and encourage participants to bring their own bottles.
- Cycle along our more than 160km of cycle paths. You can easily explore the city centre, ride along the nine-kilometre-long green ribbon that is the Jardin del Turia, and even reach out to the Albufera Natural Park, to enjoy its ecosystems or to try a traditional Valencian paella, in the very place the dish was first created.
- Enjoy an abundance of fresh products from the Mediterranean and the many farms surrounding the city in the creative menus offered by our restaurants, or on a visit to our local markets.
- Make the most of our privileged location by the Mediterranean sea, and include a sailing trip or other water-based sports in your incentive programme.
- Visitvalència also offers online or downloadable editions of all our guides.
Is it also possible to organize for incentive groups in Valencia or the surrounding area activities that directly support the local community or business, both physically and financially? Please list a few.
Yes, it is. Just a simple cookery class, for example to learn how to make a paella, buying first the ingredients from local suppliers in the market, will help local farmers.
Oceanogràfic València carries out actions to protect the natural environment and its species, for example restoring damaged ecosystems, rescuing animals and monitoring the natural environment as a whole. One of the activities offered for groups is a private visit to the Oceanografic after the doors close to the public, where you can visit the sharks, beluga whales, walruses or the largest jellyfish exhibit in Europe.
Bioagradables organise monthly volunteering events to clean the different beaches of the Valencian coastline and they also offer activity packages to companies so that their employees can take part and help raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution. Their activities are certified as Environmental Education by the CEACV in its EAR guide commitments.
Do you, as a Convention Bureau support local and foreign agencies in the selection of attractions or activities that are conducted in accordance with the principles of sustainable development?
Of course, we have identified the agencies that are most in line with these principles.
In addition, València has joined the GDS-Index, the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for destinations worldwide, which is used to assess a destination’s current social and environmental performance and drive improved performance.
Do you often receive requests for proposals that take sustainability into account ?
Yes, we are increasingly receiving proposals from companies that are looking for companies that are in line with their values in terms of being environmentally friendly or social values such as employment for people with disabilities.
Do you agree with the statement that Valencia has been ahead of other cities in Spain in implementing environmentally friendly initiatives?
We were pioneers, not only in Spain, but at a global level, in the measuring and certification of the carbon and water footprint of tourism and, as European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022, we have been sharing our experience with other cities and leading the debate about sustainability.
Congratulation, you really did a great job! How do you promote these solutions and initiatives?
Our website and digital guides provide a wealth of information and advice including suggestions on how to organize sustainable events, or how to be a more responsible visitor. As European Capital of Smart Tourism, we have also been hosting special workshops and events to raise awareness and promote sustainable tourism. We also take part in major international trade shows such as IBTM and IMEX, where we can provide more information about the sustainable initiatives in the city.
Thank you so much for sharing with us many useful informations and hints for Agencies.
National Association Meetings Manager
With a degree in Tourism, María has been working at Visitvalencia from the time she left university. Since 2016 she has been part of the Visit València Brand Management team and has recently joined the València Convention Bureau as head of National Congresses.