Sustainable tourism: this village in the Maldives can just… disappear

sustainable tourism maldives italian village

Sustainability should be a guiding concern of every human activity. This is hardly news, and yet we keep feeling surprised every time a new aspect of our lives proves to be, for any reason, other than environmentally friendly. One of the first industries to be shoved under the spotlight concerning the sustainability of its practices is the tourism industry. From flights to globalised products, from the exploitation of resources to the destruction of natural ecosystems in Asia and Africa to make room for incoming waves of western tourists. Luckily, significant goals have been achieved in the pursuit of sustainable tourism. One such positive example can be found in the Maldives, specifically on the island of Bathala, but its original concept was created in Italy.

Sustainable buildings that can just… disappear

Or rather, they can be disassembled without leaving behind a single trace of their presence, thus preserving the natural environment in which they are temporary located. Such buildings have long been a feature of some of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, particularly seaside ones. Since it is expressly forbidden to build on the shores using concrete or to make any permanent alteration to the landscape (such as drilling or laying down foundations), considerable research has been applied to the engineering of facilities that can be assembled and disassembled like a set of Lego blocks.

sustainable tourism maldives village

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It takes a village (by Marlegno)

This idea has now been expanded upon and exported to Bathala by Marlegno, a firm hailing from Bergamo, who created Sandies, an entire village resort for tourists based on it. Every building in the village is made of wood and it can be assembled and disassembled much like a Meccano set. It is at the same time beautiful, sustainable, safe an economically viable. This eco-resort is an example of how the tourism industry can cater to high-spending tourists while also maintaining environmentally-friendly standards. The project is not only economically viable for the company building it, but also for the territory. Because of this kind of facilities, concessions can be granted for a limited number of years, making the contract between the local authorities and the owners/builders shorter and lighter, while also requiring a smaller investment, that can be turned to profit much quicker.

The future of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism – most Countries have realised – is the only way forward for the whole industry. The ability to build while reducing our footprint on the natural environment to the bare minimum, leaving the landscape intact once the building is removed, is set to prove crucial in the near future. This is the best compromise so far between the desire to create a lively tourism industry in certain Countries and the need to preserve the very environment that makes it possible. When we think about the effects of mass tourism on destinations such as the Spanish Costa Blanca or the city of Venice, we are reminded of how important it is to make sure tourism does not negatively impact the destinations it favours or alters them permanently.

sustainable tourism maldives

Sustainable tourism is a by-product… of the economic crisis

Or rather, it is in the case of Marlegno. Founded in 2000, the company was severely impacted by the economic crisis and therefore converted its production to mostly wood-based construction. This prompted research on how to make this kind of architecture at the same time viable, profitable and sustainable. As far as made-in-Italy exports go, Marlegno is definitely one of the most interesting brands to watch out for in the coming years.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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