Tourism had been an important resource for many cities in Europe that were struggling with the economic crisis, the impoverishment of various social groups as well as growing unemployment. While tourism has provided income for service providers, employment for young adults and tax revenues to municipalities, it has also created significant environmental and social damage. In the past decade, tourism has pushed housing prices to unaffordable levels , saturated transportation infrastructure and public spaces, and made residential neighbourhoods unrecognisable by eliminating their social fabric and local commerce. To counter the extractive nature of mass tourism, a growing number of NGOs, cooperatives and social enterprises have been working on developing tourism services that can channel revenues into socially meaningful initiatives. Our research brings together these initiatives in order to understand their functioning and the ecosystems that feed them.
We have been engaged with responsible tourism issues for the past decade. While in the project Open Heritage, we explored Largo Residencias, a cooperative using tourism revenue to provide local services in Lisbon’s Intendente neighbourhood, in the URBACT network Interactive Cities we worked with a selection of social enterprises active in catering and cultural activities in order to create a broader responsible tourism offer. More recently, in the URBACT network ACTive NGOs, we worked with Dubrovnik, one of the world’s most touristified cities to develop a governance model that enables local citizens co-manage and co-govern the buildings of Lazareti, a former quarantine facility, while making use of tourism revenue. In the current research journalism project Solidarity City, we explored solidarity-based initiatives in Vienna, ranging from social hotels and inclusive design ateliers to restaurants and cultural venues, organised in a responsible trajectory for visitors of the Austrian capital.
In the past years, we have been working on supporting social and solidarity economy practices active in tourism by connecting them and making them more visible among responsible travellers. Besides exploring responsible and sustainable tourism services and staying in responsible accommodations during our travels, we began to collect responsible tourism initiatives in articles published in the Cooperative City magazine. A few years ago, we wrote a manifesto titled The Art of Travelling Light: Tourism with a Positive Impact, encouraging our readers to make responsible choices in their tourism-related consumption. In the past years, we published a series of interviews with tourism services with a strong social impact. These articles explore hotels and hostels that use tourism revenues to benefit disadvantaged groups in Turin, Gdansk, Athens, Lisbon, Matera and Vienna, activists who mobilise sympathisers worldwide to protects an island from tourism in Venice and an initiative to bring together the archeological and cultural richness of Eastern Rome in an ecomuseum.
At Eutropian, we work with a variety of media. Throughout the years, we created portrait videos of a series of responsible tourism initiatives.