Containing two natural parks (Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Parque Natural da Ria Formosa), one natural reserve (Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António), two classified sites (Rocha da Pena, Fonte Benémola), 14 sites integrated in the Natura 2000 network within the European Habitats and Birds Directives which cover about 40% of the Algarvean territory and furthermore several IBA’s (Important Bird Area, by Birdlife International) in non-protected areas, it is obvious that natural richness and biodiversity are some of the region’s main attractions.
‘Man’s Place in Nature… Why is it that, as science advances, this question becomes far more important and fascinating for us?’ Teilhard de Chardin, 1997
Combining the above mentioned fact and statement it makes sense to say that tourism in the Algarve is a responsible activity that needs to be practised with care and a longer term view. Already in 1990 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) described ecotourism as ‘Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people’. Adapting ecotourism, the aim of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and tourists themselves.
Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular activity throughout the western world as awareness of high fuel charges and the health benefits of regular exercise increases. Other than that cycling must be the most fun way of visiting and observing another region. Consequently, a cycling holiday is a great way to explore a region in a environmentally responsible way! Algarve Bike Holidays actively encourage all our clients to be environmentally aware and we will support any initiatives to lessen the impact of our holidays on the local environment .
Algarve Bike Holidays enable travel in small groups and we use small local hotels and suppliers wherever possible thereby supporting the local communities that clients will travel through.
Comprehensive route notes highlight local cultural points of interest not to forget gastronomical ones recommending cafés or restaurants where quality regional products or specialties are served.
On our guided tours a zero waste policy is kept regarding waterbottles, snack wraps etc.
Cycling is a sustainable form of transport itself, however on all of our airport, luggage and biketransfers we apply CO2 emission off set, which goes to sustainable development projects in third world countries. Clients are encouraged to do the same for their flights to and from the Algarve (read more Green Seat).
We actively support regional and local organisations for conservation and sustainable development.
Looking out for further possible actions we hope to receive clues and examples from clients and collegues, hopefully contributing to many generations of cycling visitors to the precious Algarve and responsible travellers of the planet in general.
We at Algarve Bike Holidays pledge:
• to ensure the viability and competitiveness of tourism enterprises so that they are able to continue to prosper and deliver benefits in the long term: By offering a varied choice of bicycles and cycling routes for all age groups and abilities.
• to maximise the contribution of tourism to the prosperity of the Algarve, including the proportion of visitor spending that is retained locally: By offering information on our routes that use local cafes and restaurants.
• to strengthen the number and quality of local jobs created and supported by tourism, including the level of pay, conditions of service and availability to all without discrimination by gender, race, disability or in other ways: By using local guides and companies in addition to employing local people in our office.
• to seek a widespread distribution of economic and social benefits from tourism throughout the recipient community, including improving opportunities, income and services available to the poor:
• to provide a safe, satisfying and fulfilling experience for visitors, available to all without discrimination by gender, race, disability or in other ways: By providing a Travellers Code to our clients. (see Travellers Code)
• to engage and empower local communities in planning and decision taking about the management and future development of tourism in their area, in consultation with other stakeholders: By attending local and regional meetings of the Região de Turismo do Algarve concerning the Operação Turística Inverno 2016-2017 – Algarve and attending workshops provided by Programa de Deolvimento Cycling&Walking no Algarve.
• to maintain and strengthen the quality of life in local communities, including social structures and access to resources, amenities and life-support systems, avoiding any form of social degradation or exploitation: By supporting local charities such as http://www.accakids.com/home.asp
• to respect and enhance the historic heritage, authentic culture, traditions and distinctiveness of host communities: By issuing the clients with the Tourismo de Portugal Algarve publication ‘algarve cultural heritage guide’. By emphasising the objective of the holiday on the local surrounding in addition to the physically advantage.
• to maintain and enhance the quality of landscapes, both urban and rural, and avoid the physical and visual degradation of the environment: By using non carbon emission transport(bicycles) and instruction to dispose of rubbish environmentally
• to support the conservation of natural areas, habitats and wildlife, and minimise damage to them: By advising the client in the rules of the National Parks and Nature Reserves and to limit the visits to these areas to small groups of twenty or less.
• to minimise the use of scarce and non-renewable resources in the development and operation of tourism facilities and services: By using recycled paper in our printed literature
• to minimise the pollution of air, water and land and the generation of waste by tourism enterprises and visitors. By using bio degradable products for bike cleaning and CO2 friendly lubrication: By providing the clients with reusable water flasks and reducing the transport logistics to a minimum.