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Intelligent tourism – the future for this area?

is there a model for sustainable tourism ?

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This afternoon braving the odd shower could be found a group of people of widely differing ages and by the sound of their accents, from widely different places around the globe but all sharing one thought as they intently worked attempting to get down on the canvas some of the light, colours and emotions that were laid out in front of them from the panoramic view across the mountains outside the Duomo.

There were there as part of the events run by Chris and Krysia Bell of Art Toscana (their site is here) who for more than a decade have been bringing people to Barga to paint and share their love of this area.

As you can hear in the short interview with Chris below, they are the front runners in a kind of “Intelligent Tourism” which many people now think is the future for this area. As industry as a whole and manufacturing industry definitely in the area gradually  starts to wind down, the future is not so rosy but this kind of tourism could be one way of making sure that the recession can have a minimal effect of the life style and future prospects of residents of this valley.

Just last week we heard another voice, that of Thomas Sello, the author and retired Head of the education department of one of the most important art museums in Germany, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, who was in Barga visiting and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city for the fifth time.

Keeping him company were another 40 German visitors who were enjoying their first visit to the city.

The interview with Thomas recorded in Piazza Angelio (in English) in which he said in precise and clear terms just what it was he was looking for in a visit to Italy and why he thought Barga was the perfect destination for visitors interested in “the real tuscany” has now been downloaded and listened to by over 3500 people.  (article here)

Somebody, somewhere is interested in this discussion but maybe we have to look further afield for a lead ….. according to an article recently on National Geographic:

Tourism is among the biggest global industries and, as such, has tremendous impacts – environmental, cultural, economic – that have to be acknowledged and addressed.

Q: Which country can you point to as a model for sustainable tourism?

A: One of the more ambitious is France, which is aiming for sustainability in the whole country. The key, I think, is that the French never fully bought in to the modern obsession with tourist overdevelopment. They have been nurturing their own culture and landscape, cities, and villages for decades. Since they have tied their economy to tourism, they have applied a precise and country-wide approach that mostly works.

All relevant ministries are involved, including culture, commerce, agriculture, sports, and transportation. Planning is bottom up, beginning with locals at destinations who decide what they want to promote and how they want to improve. The French obsession with protecting their culture–some would call it arrogance–has worked in their favor. The planning and bureaucracy required to make this work would try the patience of many governments. – source – National Geographic

Chris bell – MA Slade University College London, BA 1st class Chelsea College of Art, PGCE Certificate in Education, Painting Scholarship to Yale University, Certificate in Counselling.
I am both a practising artist and a teacher. My background is in education, teaching art to young students, teachers and adults. I am an Advanced Skills Teacher and led the Development of Thinking and Learning Skills in East Sussex schools. My work as a painter is mostly two dimensional, incorporating a range of surfaces and media.

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