domingo, 20 de abril de 2008
PONTA DELAGA IS DEAD, ALL HAIL PONTA DELGADA*
Life is full of paradoxes and mine does not escape to this rule!
How can I speak of sustainable economy, responsible tourism, “soft encounters” with dolphins and whales, while I spend my life placing people in airplanes?
Transports, and over all the air transportation, are responsible for the emission of a considerable part of the gases with greenhouse effect (and not only the carbon dioxide, as there are other well worse...). Currently 100% of the people who visit the archipelago use this unecological transport, simply because they do not have a choice.
Thus, to clean my conscience, I present 3 suggestions for your appreciation:
1. We should make people who visit us aware of the fact that making a trip does have an important impact on the environment. The Azores serves as a model for the way humanity is taking: here we can touch the power of Nature, but also we can feel its fragility, through the reduction of biodiversity... I consider thus that everybody should plant a indigenous tree, taking as example (bad) the Easter Island;
2. We should give some time to the visitor to appreciate the islands, inviting him to remain at least one week in the Region and/or 3 nights in each island. Congresses, long weekends, Inter-islands circuits and charter flights (Swedish model...) should be banished, as they reflect an environmentally aggressive tourism model. Without getting extreme and forbidding a tourist to stay less than 7 days (some destinations do), it is politically possible to tax short stays and lessen taxes for operators who propose stays of average duration.
3. And overall to re-establish a regular maritime line between Continental Portugal and the Azores (Azores and not only S. Miguel island). The ship is 18 times less pollutant than the airplane. Cruise ships are able to carry this trip in less than 40 hours, and also:
a. In first place it allows to take time softly, after all tourists are on vacation! I disembarked for the first time in the Azores in 1987: one misty day (I understood then the notion "Mist Islands") and felt the exuberant vegetation of the lilac island before seeing the wonderful silhouette of the Ilhéu das Cabras to the bow of my sailingboat "Tyl le mutin", and later got to the sweet, almost sensually silhouette of the Monte Brasil, still resonant of the São Joaninas (St. John) festivities. Quite a huge contrast, comparing to the "aromatical" winged aluminium pipe A310, where I chew a light meal offered by TAP (Portuguese air flight company) and interrogate myself if it will be able to line up itself with the track or if my luggage followed this trip or not.
b. To have space to discover the islands and to take the blue horizon of the Azorean sea as a reference: this is really what tourists look when visiting us. After one week trekking on the Atlantis volcanoes, nothing is more violating, than having to share one tiny space, seated in the “comfortable” seat of the airplane, drawn for dwarves, or to hear the scare shouts of the Homo sapiens seated my side, whom was not prevented of the sporting character of our airports... Yes, I fear planes! But over all I prefer to imagine myself taking an aperitif by the swimming pool on the cruise ships’ poop, with the sunset on the Atlantic as background, following the dolphins to the Azores.
c. Maritime transport will be able to answer the necessities of numerous of our customers, who prefer the ship for environmentally reasons or because that way they could embark greater amount of luggage, something very important, if you think that many come here for diving, for example.
d. To make port installations profitable, to create jobs around these ports and to serve more democratically the core of the archipelago, the Triangle, comprising Pico, Faial and S. Jorge islands. This trips’ tariff would have to be supported, in the same measure of the carried out for SATA and TAP flights, at least for some islands. (A little out of subject, but I remember you that the brand new Pico Airport discontinues to have direct flights from/to Lisbon, while its ancestral neighbour Airport from Faial receives 2 or 3 daily ones, during summer. This subject will be object next time of Espaço Talassa blog humour)
* For who does not known, the "Ponta Delgada" was the last passenger ship that carried maritime lines between Lisbon and the Azores, just until beginning of the 80’.