Eco-Tourism Adventure Sports and Climate Awareness

Grassroots project: Meeting in Matera. Yes, just arrived at LABA in September. Here I am, embarking on a new professional adventure. Going to Matera, Italy, and discovering ecotourism.

First of all, I’ve never been to Italy before, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect culturally. Secondly, as a communications manager, I find myself having to produce a short film about this trip, the theme being ecotourism. However, I don’t have any knowledge or basis in the subject, my only practice being to prefer the train to the plane when I can.

You should know that although I’ve been an apprentice at LABA for 2 months now, my training at ECV has made me an apprentice art director in graphic design. As you can imagine, eco-responsible tourism hasn’t been at the heart of my studies for the past 4 years. On the other hand, it’s this cultural and educational aspect that I’ve come to seek by joining LABA, and it’s with an open mind and open “chakras” that I set off from my Bordeaux apartment towards the picturesque streets of Matera.

On this trip, I found myself surrounded by some thirty young people from several European countries (Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, France and Italy). Together we attended lectures given by Vania Cauzillo, director and documentary filmmaker, and Elvira Stephanie De Giacomo, tourism expert. It was during these lectures that I was able to learn a few things about green tourism. Elvira explained that local tourism is the best form of tourism for a town like Matera, and that we should try to limit access to foreign tourists. Vania, on the other hand, believes that tourism should include foreigners and is even beneficial. So how do you make up your mind when two experts contradict each other?

Well, I think the most feasible solution (this is just my humble opinion) would be to let foreign tourists discover places like the Sassis of Matera. But perhaps it’s up to us foreigners, tourists, to change the way we travel. And it’s up to those in charge of the Materane community to come up with solutions and proposals for activities, rest areas and exhibitions that will provide a livelihood for the locals, satisfy tourists and not harm the local environment. Maybe it’s time for us to consider longer trips, journeys that will take longer by train, but that won’t leave as big a carbon footprint as a plane journey. Maybe it’s time to buy local. Maybe it’s time to support the local economy of a country or city by choosing where to sleep, what to eat, where to buy souvenirs, and all in a more thoughtful and responsible way.

Taking part in what they called a “hackathon”, I found myself in a team of 4 young women from Belgium and Ireland. Grace, our Team Leader, was leading a project for an eco-responsible tourist route along the west coast of Ireland via Sligo. Our job was to gather information, figures and ideas to create a project management plan to help Grace bring her idea to life.

What’s more, I was able to learn about the subject of eco-tourism throughout the 3 days, and meet all sorts of interesting people. So I’m leaving with a new perspective and a new vision of tourism, and a network of young entrepreneurs in Europe with whom I’ve kept in touch since I left.

Judyth BABIN

Chargée de projets européens | European project manager