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No Problem…but what if…? |09 January 2023

Tourism plays an important role in today's society. This poses both challenges and opportunities for the future. Tourism activities can affect the environment in different ways, for example, through the consumption of energy and the emission of air pollutants. Tourism is thus becoming a complex topic, within which numerous areas such as mobility, accommodation and catering have to be considered in relation to environmental pollution and impacts. Tourism is also an important economic sector worldwide, providing one in eleven people with a job.


Tourism activities have an impact on the environment

Tourism impacts on almost all areas of the environment. During the journey to and from the airport, there is a particular consumption of primary energy, the emission of climate-damaging emissions, impairment of the atmosphere, and noise emissions. Accommodation as well takes its toll on the environment, especially in terms of land use and use of energy. Furthermore leisure activities have a particularly strong impact on biodiversity.


Climate effects of tourism

The emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by tourism-related traffic makes a significant contribution to climate change. Travelling by plane plays a particularly important role. This is because, in addition to the CO2 at the usual cruising altitude, they also cause other emissions and atmospheric processes whose climate impact is significantly higher than that of CO2 alone. In the future, the tourism industry will have to adjust to the changed framework conditions as a result of climate change and adapt accordingly. Destinations and providers will be affected in many ways.


Tourism and climate change

Tourism is one of the causes of climate change. At the same time, it is also affected by the consequences of climate change.

Climate protection includes all efforts to reduce man-made climate change. It is therefore primarily aimed at reducing greenhouse gases through greater energy efficiency and switching, as completely as possible, from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Adaptation in tourism means minimising the risks and negative consequences of climate change and using climate change for new tourism concepts.



Adaptation measures at an early stage are usually more effective and less expensive than at a later stage. Furthermore, the cost of inaction in the face of climate change can become very high very quickly. The sooner we understand climate change adaptation as an opportunity, the sooner we can turn it into a competitive advantage.

There is no doubt that sustainability measures are associated with investments that are not always insignificant. In the private sector (guest houses, guest apartments, hotels), this investment can be refinanced through the appropriate alignment of the business strategy. The return on investment in ecological measures can only be partially achieved through the measure itself, but the main product, tourism, will cover these costs due to the sustained demand and thus, businesses will gain profit.



The Seychelles is certainly an international pioneer when it comes to environmental protection.  Nevertheless, we have to understand that the competition of the clients’ travel location is making the decision of the traveller more and more a question of survival for our economy in Seychelles. The Ministry of Environment of the German government for example recommends its population to reduce travelling by plane in the future dramatically. This is a warning light especially for destinations like Seychelles, where tourism represents a significant source of income and has ensured the country's economic security in the past. In the last survey of a European travel magazine with international output, the Seychelles are no longer considered. Only in the rating of the best beaches in the world is the Seychelles listed in third place, after Spain and Greece.

Cost Rica is the number one most popular long-haul travel destination.

Costa Rica was particularly successful at convincing the international jury in terms of ecology, value for money and range of activities. In addition, Costa Rica is the first country in the world to be recognised for its environmental policies. The Seychelles are not mentioned in the ranking of the most popular travel destinations.


Crisis = Opportunity

With the changing priorities when it comes to booking a holiday, Seychelles must embrace this change. A few years ago, the average vacationer consulted his local travel agency and chose his vacation destination from the priorities of weather, climate and water. It can be observed that ecological aspects are now playing an increasingly important role. More and more tourists are asking themselves how they can improve or amortize their ecological footprint, which rises sky-rocket-high as soon as they board a plane. This is exactly the chance Seychelles has.

After the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of Russia in the early 1990s, many of the former and closely allied countries have focused on tourism revenue. Vietnam or Myanmar are examples. They advertise with wonderful beaches, turquoise waters and summer temperatures all year round. In addition, the price-performance ratio is more positive compared to Seychelles. This also applies to Thailand which is in the immediate vicinity of those countries in South East Asia.

In order to be successful in this competition, the tourism strategy of Seychelles needs to be realigned. The focus must be on the complete transformation of the local tourism industry which has to offer a 100 percent sustainable product in the future. Seychelles must be the leading country which guarantees the desired political correctness for the traveller through its offer. This will give Seychelles a huge competitive advantage as the country is responding very early to growing future market demands.


The 3 Pillars

‘Energy’ represents one of the 3 supporting pillars of all strategies for the ecological transformation of societies. In addition, transportation (pillar 2) and food security (pillar 3) should also be mentioned. In order to create these 3 pillars, a paradigm shift in hierarchies and experience in the field of tourism marketing is required. Any new tourist infrastructure to be created must become independent of fossil fuels. This not only requires the construction of solar systems on the roofs of the projects or a decal to use towels twice in the hotel room, it also requires the designation of solar fields on these properties. Furthermore the projects must use the two different monsoon directions when placed on a site. The natural ventilation of projects to protect against heat-exposure is a centuries-old form of sustainable development. Proper waste and wastewater management must rise to an advanced level among the priorities of the project owners.

Solar technology as we know was introduced in 1957, 66 years ago. Its potential is far from being fully-utilised within the 21st century. Appropriate support must also be provided by the public administration by designating appropriate areas for intensive solar farming. Furthermore, the use of wind energy has to be mentioned as well, a technology that is also still used very conservatively. In this regard “offshore wind kites” have to be highlighted, allowing for the conversion of wind into energy up to a height of 800 m. The average centre of conservative wind turbines is max. 132 m. The rated output of offshore systems is 5 - 6 times the MW output of conventional wind turbines.

The public transport system must be electrified over the next few years or partially converted to hydrogen energy. Fossil fuel retention will result in Seychelles' marginalisation in the global tourism industry to a big extent.

Seychelles imports 90 percent of its food. In this area, alternatives must be sought, especially in the agricultural sector. Vertical farming, as used in more and more countries for food security, is also an alternative for Seychelles. The cultivation area is doubled by each storey and thus contributes to the reduction of the urban sprawl, less land must be used. Another advantage is the faster availability of the products as well as the scientifically proven healthier diet when consuming these products.

The comparison of the production of 1 kg of lettuce in conventional farming with vertical farming leads to the results as follows:

In order to harvest 1 kilogram (kg) of lettuce, conventional farming requires the use of 250 litres (l) water/sqm, 3.9 kg can be produced per sqm. This corresponds to 2,000 food miles / cubic metres (cbm) in case of import.In order to harvest 1 kg of lettuce, vertical farming requires the use of 1 liter of water/sqm, 80 - 120 kg can be produced per s. This corresponds to 43 food miles/cbm in case of import.Vertical farms can reduce their ecological foot print by the production of own energy like the use of solar- or wind power. 

A proper waste and wastewater management must be compulsory criteria for the establishment of new tourism facilities. Same with a rainwater harvesting tanks. The facilities must be equipped with multi chamber biological waste-water facilities. The clean water which leaves the chamber-facility after a process of intensive biological cleaning, can then be directed in the rainwater-harvesting tank to be used for all outside applications like the irrigation of the outdoor facilities. 

The associated higher costs in the construction can be amortized by the increase in overnight prices. The Tourist “2.0” and the change in priorities when travelling as described above will accept this price increase.This process will not happen overnight. It needs a mid-term to long-term strategy from the authorities in charge and the ongoing monitoring of the implementation process. 

Benefits for tourism

Irrespective of the already described advantage of “political correctness” when choosing a vacation destination, this development will also have the advantage of allowing vacationers to identify with the holiday destination. On one side, the mighty, overwhelming nature of the islands, on the other the sensitive handling of the existing resources and it’s highly technological translation into energy. This contrast leads to a continued, stable and increasing demand for the product, Seychelles. The success of Dubai shall mentioned as an example. On the one hand the infinity of the desert, on the other hand the urban developments that are carried by high tech applications.


Marketing and education

The handling of these technologies must be transparent and comprehensible. This means that these tech-areas must be accessible for guided tours and interested visitors, be it tourists or the local population.The visitors will be shown how these technologies are used for the sake of the nature and its user. The effect of transparency must not be underestimated and cannot be overestimated. In addition to the beach, the ocean and the climate, Seychelles will gain another tourist attraction.

By taking the lead in the global market,Seychelles will become of highest interest for all those who deal with this topic professionally and academically.  As a result, Seychelles will be a venue for related conferences and exhibitions on the subject in the future. This, in return will have a positive effect of our educational institutions in the country and among the younger generation. 

Michael Schwarz

Architect and urban analyst  ****** About the author: Michael Schwarz is a German architect and urban analyst. He holds two Master degrees, one in Architectural Engineering and one in Architecture. He is a respected Speaker in international conferences and provides expertise to companies in terms of their future related strategies to the urban fabric and its society. As a University Professor, Michael was teaching architecture and urban design for 20 years in Germany, the UAE and China. He is specialised in residential projects, projects for tourism and administrative buildings. His research meanwhile focused on sustainable developments, be it in the urban, regional or architectural environment. Michael lives and works in Seychelles.

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