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Mass tourism and overconsumption can kill every kind of natural and cultural landscape?

Recently Madeira has been nominated to title of the world’s leading island destination 2017 but at the same time it is not even in TOP 100 destinations which represent sustainable tourism.

As I am interested in global changes in tourism industry I went to the conference “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development” held on September 27th in Funchal as a part of celebration of World Tourism Day. Unfortunately, what I have learnt about Madeira is that there is a lack of actions and good practices towards sustainable tourism in this island.

First of all, I think that not everything should be for free because it does not help in developing local economy. If you charged every tourist entering to natural areas of island that money could help in preservation of natural and cultural beauty and also reduce the impact of mass tourism. Unlike in Portugal, in my homeland – Poland, every entrance to National Park costs around 1 euro per person so it is not a big amount. In general, all protected areas should have appropriate infrastructure and a stuff such as guides, foresters, guides, etc.

However, I realize that without appropriate attitude of each single person this problem cannot be easily solved. Unquestionably we should feel like representants of our own countries and be a sustainable tourist wherever we head for.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Karolina Szwaj, Polish with a Portuguese/Brazilian soul, volunteering in one of AAUMa’s projects namely history tellers project. Passionate about Romance languages and Lusophony culture as well as travelling as a backpacker.

Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.