When we talk about ecotourism, we think of tourism with low environmental impact, responsible and eco-friendly.
But how can we help the environment to survive by reducing smog, pollution and noise?
Many global organizations that deal with ecology are concerned about the environment and constantly study the best solutions for the protection of tourist places and their inhabitants.
Our beautiful country is full of cities that live in tourism and frequented by visitors from all over the world who appreciate the beautiful scenery, history, culture, food and wine.
This is a cultural heritage of inestimable value that must also be protected for future generations, starting from transport.
Transport for groups: public or private?
Group transport vehicles are the key for the movement of tourists, local public transport such as trams, metro and trains are certainly of low polluting impact, but they are not always able to cover the entire area of interest of visitors, also they are not suitable for transfers of pre-established groups that require personalized timetables and itineraries, often accompanied by a tour guide, teachers, interpreters, etc.
About the subways that run through the underground of the city in the perimeter of the historic center, they also cause vibrations that could damage the monuments on the surface, so even if they have an improvement on environmental pollution, unfortunately over time they risk causing considerable damages to a heritage of inestimable value and historical, artistic and cultural interest.
And local scheduled bus services? As everyone knows, there are few Italian Municipalities that have the economic availability to periodically renew the buses of local public transport with a consequent aging of the vehicle fleet, vehicles increasingly polluting, not always safe mechanically of view and unfortunately sometimes frequented by "unreliable" people.
It should also be noted that current public transport services are not sufficient to satisfy the demand of the ever-increasing number of tourists arriving in groups in our cities; just think of the waiting times and the conditions of many lines where it is not possible to get on a bus because it is very full of people.
An ideal solution is the rental of tourist coaches offered by private companies, a reserved and tailored service with vehicles in continuous modernization, Euro category of last generation or equipped with an anti-particulate filter (FAP) for the reduction of polluting emissions, safeguarding the environment and the health of people, both residents and tourists.
Among the advantages of transport by coach, let's not forget that only one 50-seater coach carries the equivalent of passengers for which 12 to 15 cars would be needed (although not all subjected to the same constraints as CO2 pollutant emissions), with a pollution reduction not only environmental but also on noise, traffic and parking space.
For some years we see circulate in the cities more and more scooters and electric cars owned by private citizens or taxi and car-sharing, a choice certainly responsible for environmentally sustainable tourism, still in use to people who need short trips.
In order for this choice may have more support, it is important to equip cities with columns for recharging batteries, today unfortunately not much widespread.
Precisely because of the lack of areas and infrastructures dedicated to electric top-ups in the Italian territory, both in cities and along motorways, tourist coaches can’t use this energy source and replace the current diesel power supply with the electric because there is no way to run long distances, both in the cities and throughout Italy and Europe, to accompany tourists during their scheduled tours.
Tourist Coach Plan and LTZ (limited traffic zone)
Many tourist municipalities such as Rome, Florence, Milan and others have for several years adopted a Tourist Coach Plan which imposes rules for the circulation of tourist coaches within the city and in central limited traffic zone (LTZ), where some central areas are pedestrianized and interdicted to the circulation of big vehicles.
Among the purposes of the Coach Plan there is certainly a choice that aims at ecotourism, so the obligation for coaches to have Euro category of last generation or in any case be equipped with FAP, with different prices for the purchase of TLZ permits according to the Euro category, where you pay less for less polluting vehicles.
Recently the Municipality of Rome has proposed to prohibit the access and circulation within the historic center of the capital to tourist coaches from January 2019, in order to reduce pollution and traffic even further.
This choice, which would have repercussions on the entire tourism industry, would cause a considerable increase in minivans and cars in circulation to transport tourists (remember that 1 50-seater bus is the equivalent to about 12-15 cars or 7 minivans), but not sufficient to the large daily inflow of groups in the capital, then higher CO2 emissions and much more traffic, without any decrease in environmental and noise impact.
In 2017 La Sapienza University of Rome conducted a study abour touristic coaches in Rome in which it is highlighted that "Monitoring stations have shown the absence of effects of tourist coaches on the quantities of pollutants".
So it is natural to wonder if the municipalities should incentivize and enhance the coach hire service in the city center, rather than prohibit their circulation, as well as undertake a modernization of the most polluting scheduled buses that are over 10-20 years old.
Another important factor to obtain more and more ecological cities is having an infrastructure suited to the needs of users, such as roads suitable for the number of circulating vehicles in order to reduce traffic, smog and noise pollution.
Surely if you normally need 2 hours to run a 10 km route with city traffic, it is normal that it pollutes more than a transfer performed in 20 minutes!
Ecotourism is possible, but we must not forget that cities are for everyone and we must respect the environment starting from a responsible behavior in the first person, having a sense of civic, not leaving waste on the street or residues of cigarettes on the ground, do not anything that would harm their own health, other people and our planet.
Have a nice trip!