3.2. Current sustainable trends and initiatives
Currently there is a trend going towards systems in which people are willing to share properties within communities. This is offered through platforms that stimulate to share resources with the main benefit of using only the provided services instead of owning properties or products. Companies which use this principle are Greenwheels (cars), Pelican House (headphones), Blablacar (cars), Couchsurfing (housing) and AirBNB (housing). As an example, AirBNB provides a platform where empty rooms within a house can be rented out making sure that the costs are relatively low and the accommodation is used efficiently. This trend is mainly stimulated by the the economical benefits it offers. This renting out of space is accelerated by the economical crisis, where unemployment resulted into the urge of earning money and therefore resulted into using housing in an efficient way. (Quartz.com, 2015) It can offer the platform to help cities and regions by fitting more people into existing spaces and filling places with local businesses when residents are gone. The downside to this evolution is that it can also have a negative impact on the housing market, so that condo owners can now get more money by continuously renting out spaces therefore creating additional houses that are not necessary. When a similar platform is stimulated in regions, for example Texel, that the problem can occur that it becomes simply too good at what it's doing. (syrah.co, 2015) If trends like these are implemented into Texel, the sensitivity of this system should be taken into account. Especially into a place like Texel where space is limited.
Another trend is spending eco-friendly holidays by looking into accommodations that have been rated as “green”. If Texel aims towards being a sustainable island, it becomes more interesting for “sustainable” tourist. This means sustainability needs to become a selling point. Green Tourism is a Scottish initiative that rates accommodations by their sustainability using industry benchmarks (Poor, Fair, Good and Excellent) for all members to focus on achieving a net zero carbon impact per room night and zero kWh/square metre. This may be achieved through the use of robust green energy supplies, use of renewable fuels and biomass as well as achieving effective efficiency savings through building improvements, awareness and controls. (green-tourism.com, 2015) Accommodation owners care a lot about their reputation, as seen in the YUTPA analysis. They can improve their reputation by working towards sustainable accommodation, which will receive a higher sustainability rating. This rating is shared via websites to tourists, which makes the accommodation more popular to visit. The accommodation owner saves money by using sustainable energy, but also gains money by gaining popularity.
This effect could be translated into an increasingly higher focus on off-season tourists. The design challenge is to fully make use of all accommodation all year round, which means accommodation needs to become more popular in wintertime. This can be achieved if the tourism industry works as a single actor to achieve this goal. Accommodations need to be cheaper in winter. Perhaps local restaurants and attractions need to become cheaper too, or offer coupons to people renting accommodations in wintertime. Summer guests could be attracted with a special discount for a wintertime return trip. Accommodations can become more interesting with winter-friendly amenities such as a fireplace, jacuzzi or hot tub. These additions also need to be advertised. By exploiting this tourism, more money can be gained, which can then be used for building more winter attractions, resulting in a snowball effect. Perhaps a specialized tourism office can focus on making the tourism on Texel more off-season friendly. This tourism office could also take care of leasing private vacation homes, since both the owner as well as Texel gain from this increase in tourism.
Another, still developing trend, might cope with the flow of the tourism season. Within this dynamic tourist season of Texel, housing of tourists is still relatively rigid and structured by solid housing. It does not adjust to the seasons and is not able to cope with the structural fluctuations of the seasons. Currently there are a lot of experimenting projects that do try to cope with these problems by accommodating habitants for a short amount of time without leaving any traces. This experimentation takes place at festivals like “Burning Man”. It is a pop-up festival in the desert where people take their own belongings with them and leave no trace behind when the festival is ended. This experimentations tries to cope with human behaviour and results into a small intimate community For Texel it might be interesting to see if applying an infrastructure that stimulates tourists to bring tents and other temporary housing with them. By leaving infrastructure at some places free to arrange by visitors is might change over time in a natural flow.
The final idea is to make sure that the overall energy that comes with accommodating a community doesn’t use as much energy. A specialized company could take care of all the available vacation homes on Texel, making sure the heating is turned off, the air-conditioning is turned off and the homes are insured and protected against burglars. Vacation home owners don’t have to worry about losing energy anymore or about the safety of their vacation home by offering their vacation home to this company in wintertime. Payment could be done with money, but perhaps also with energy. By, for example, installing a solar panel on the roof of a vacation home, this home will be producing energy in wintertime that could be used for paying of this company. Perhaps this company could also inform the locals of retrofitting their own home. Islanders become more aware of the energy consumption of their home and this company could help them improve their home.