The digitization of La Manga, technology for coexistence between tourism and the ecosystem
One of the sectors that will undergo significant transformations after the pandemic will be tourism. It has been one of the activities that has stopped the most. Not in vain, since traveling involves the movement of people, one of the factors to avoid in order to control the spread of the virus. Digitization can help resume more sustainably.
With the break in travel, the damage suffered by some ecosystems with mass tourism has become clear, at least it has become visible. The continuous influx of people to places that are not prepared to welcome them leads to more waste, greater stress for the animals in these areas and a faster deterioration of natural resources.
The 2020 lockdowns even served to bring birds back to cities. Some animals, such as foxes, were even seen venturing into urban land, attracted by the calm and inactivity. A sample of how the natural world reclaims its space. And a reminder of how important it is to guarantee the sustainability of environments.
Among the priorities established by the World Tourism Organization, to resume tourist travel, there are two very clear. One of them consists of the digital transformation of tourism, which implies the promotion of digital skills for workers, as well as investments in this area. Added to this digitization is the push for sustainability and green growth. According to this, the sector should aim to be more resource efficient and carbon neutral. This requires greater care of protected areas, the use of renewable energy or circular economy.
These are principles applicable both globally and locally. In Spain, one of the environmental challenges in terms of tourism is to protect the rich ecosystem of La Manga del Mar Menor.
Digitization for rethink tourism
The case of the digitization of La Manga is paradigmatic. The damage inflicted on its ecosystem is replicated at many points along the Mediterranean coast. Not only in Spain, in other countries the coast has also suffered from practices that were not regularized until the areas were already damaged.
But the richness of the surroundings of La Manga made the damage even more palpable. Until the 1960s, most of the natural values were preserved.. But in that decade, urban development, together with the beginning of mass tourism, began to make a dent.
The last alarm went off in 2019 and in the summer of 2021. In the Mar Menor, near where a marine reserve for the protection of the biosphere is located, tons of dead fish appeared on the shores. It was discovered that the phenomenon was associated with the deterioration of the state of the lagoon due to human activity.
Digitization could mean a turning point in the practice of tourism in the area, in order to moderate the impact. The pandemic can also contribute to making changes. The organization specialized in tourism and sustainability GreenView points out some factors to take into account. One of them is that tourists have witnessed its impact and want to reduce it in the future. In addition, although international travel resumes with intensity there will be a trend to the nearest destinations. In short, a greater awareness of the risks of tourism activity for biodiversity and in relation to climate change and future pandemics has been created.
This is a project that the company presents within the framework of the celebration of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona under the slogan Transformation is Now. A place where all the proposals related to connectivity, 5G, connected industry or sustainability will be shared.
A conservation project that looks to the future
This context is favorable to the protection of the La Manga habitat. And one of the formulas to carry this out is based on digitization. The La Manga 365 project contemplates implementing solutions for a more sustainable tourism in the area. With the help of Telefónica as a partner, the initiative seeks to improve public transport, regulate traffic lights, monitor car parks and traffic intersections.
The project revolves around four axes: tourism, platform, governance and mobility. There are solutions to measure and control capacity, others that offer connectivity to tourists and specialized applications for visitors. WiFi and 5G coverage will join sensory, with IoT devices, to monitor the environment. It is about offering smart city services in this area, to improve the functioning of infrastructures and traffic.
La Manga 360 Resources
The digitization project belongs to the Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategies, whose objective is to improve the use and quality of ICT in urban strategies and smart cities. For this, IoT devices, such as sensors, will be used to perform different measurements. The more information can be gathered in real time, the more optimized the processes will be. Although for this it will be necessary to have the necessary connectivity. All this data will be processed and analyzed using big data and artificial intelligence systems. The La Manga 360 project contemplates the use of the FIWARE platform. Promoted by the European Union, it focuses on the global development of applications for the Internet of the future.