We define Slow tourism as a travel philosophy which allows you to see the more authentic side of a destination from the experience of a traveller.
The aim of returning to a relaxed way of life, to having time to reflect on what we want, to letting yourself get carried away by the passing of time and even just allowing things to happen, has made the Slow movement one of the leading players in our social networks. Without doubt, this movement has returned to the principles lost by the evolution of our daily routines, which have accelerated our lifestyles, and where the most basic values have lost their importance. Slow means peaceful, calm and relaxed. It means thinking twice about how we act, how we relate to the environment, and most importantly, to other people.
If we apply the movement described above to tourism we find a way of travelling which encourages a return to the lost basic values of tourism by achieving a real and true experience. We can describe Slow tourism as something which teaches us to be responsible and mindful during our travels so we can to better venture into the local traditions and community. This is the only way we will be able to enjoy the authenticity of a destination and find experiences that allow our trip to unfold spontaneously.
In Spain, Alex Montesinos co-founder of Entrelenguas, talks to us some more about the philosophy of Slow tourism.
It seems like Slow tourism has more to do with nature based tourism than urban tourism. Is that right?
We have always related green, fresh air and nature with health and well-being but you can do nature based tourism and have nothing to do with Slow tourism. Even though the movement does return to the values of the well-being of, and respect for, the environment, there isn’t necessarily a direct relationship between the two. Activities that are done in a mass way, due to the number of participants, that use means of transport that harm the environment, or activities that upset the ecosystem, would not take place within the philosophy of Slow tourism.
Does it make sense to get to know a lot of destinations in a short time?
That depends on the time. The most sensible travel philosophy and the one most closely related to the rhythm which defines Slow tourism maintains that you should get to know destinations inside out. This means that depending on the amount of time we have available to us, we should set aside more days to venture deeper into a destination and consequently discover more places. However, this is not the same as visiting four disparate points and dedicating a few hours to visiting each one. You have to have enough time to wander around these places enjoying its people, its food and its traditions.
Are we talking about something like an artificial experience?
This is not an artificial experience by any means!
I have always maintained that experiences in tourism aren’t created, they are found. The Slow movement is developing as a travel philosophy rather than a typology with its own name. In its purest form, it’s a way of life whose objective is that we ourselves find real and authentic situations during our travels so we don’t have to resort to artificial experiences. The objective is to live like the locals do and to avoid stereotypes and clichés so we can get to know the real side of a destination.
What role do new technologies play in Slow tourism?
We have gone from travel agencies planning and managing a trip to doing it ourselves in record time. Today we can plan a trip to the Antipodes using only applications downloaded to our smartphones. Furthermore, bloggers and virtual friends can advise us where to look for the best restaurants. The new technologies provide us with the tools to connect with anyone, wherever they may be, and to whatever service they offer. House exchanges, car sharing, comparing airline prices, exchanging work for accommodation, reserving a room….there are thousands of options available to you when planning a trip. Furthermore, these new methods of information search and travel planning almost always come combined with much more unusual and authentic options than can be found by traditional means. Due to the new technologies, the locals themselves, and the main tourism service providers, are able to share a wealth of information with travellers.