The Tourist Town: A Sustainable Approach to Travel Accommodations with Authentic Experience
Cultural Experience

The Tourist Town: A Sustainable Approach to Travel Accommodations
with Authentic Experience

Young travelers are now going on the sustainable path and choosing to be considerate of their potential impact on mother nature. As the sustainability wave surges, we want to popularize the idea of embracing sustainable tourism through cultural heritage. 

Avid Travelers usually aspire to an authentic experience while visiting new places, this might not be possible in the famous hotel chains. One can always use local hotels, but such hotels are often hard to locate and often unreliable. However, what if the entire town acted like one big hotel? This is a creative idea that makes travel accommodations sustainable and culturally enriched. This hospitality model is profitable for both travelers and local hotels & businesses, creating the ultimate tourist town.

The Concept of Scattered Hospitality:
Alberghi Diffusi (Italy)

Creating a tourist town is recently becoming popular in parts of Europe and Italy. They call it Alberghi Diffusi translated to “scattered hospitality” or “spread out hotels.” In simple words, Alberghi Diffusi entails the idea of hotels not being limited to one single building or complex, but rather being expanded to multiple historical and local buildings all over the town. The reception area, restaurant, and common spaces are typically located in a central building, while the guest rooms are distributed in various nearby buildings, often renovated with respect to their original architectural features.

This leads to an authentic experience for travelers and an earning opportunity for local businesses.

This hospitality model was inspired by the strategy opted by people in the Friuli region after a devastating earthquake in 1976. In order to restore their town’s economic stability, they repurposed the restored houses for tourism. A Professor named Giancarlo Dall’Ara, an expert in tourism marketing developed and popularized this innovative concept all over Italy. In 1998, Alberghi Diffusi was formally recognized and regulated in Sardinia, solidifying its status as a unique and sustainable form of accommodation. 

Travelers can now pick a lodging of their choosing over the small towns and experience Italy’s rich culture. 

Machiyado (Japan)

A similar initiative is prevalent in some towns in Japan. The “Machiyado” concept refers to extending lodgings to surrounding neighborhoods as accommodations for overnight travelers. Machiyado seeks to revive and pay homage to Japan’s historical roots by reintroducing the original system of accommodating travelers. Before modern times, Japan had a concept known as Shukuba-machi, which consisted of post-towns established at regular intervals along highways during the Edo period. These post-towns served as vital rest stops for travelers, offering a variety of services such as dining, bathing, sightseeing, and sleeping options.

Drawing inspiration from this traditional system, Machiyado aims to recreate the authentic experience of the past and bring it back to the present day. Just like the original Shukuba-machi, Machiyado establishments are strategically located, offering a range of amenities and activities to accommodate the needs and interests of guests in tourist towns.

Tourist Towns as Sustainable Initiatives

Both the above concepts are based on the same idea of developing a town’s travel industry in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner. Tourist towns often operate with a low environmental footprint, incorporating eco-friendly practices and encouraging guests to embrace responsible travel. Additionally, they often engage and support local businesses, fostering economic growth within the community and helping to combat depopulation in rural areas.

Machiyado in Japan and Alberghi Diffusi in Italy exemplify sustainable tourism initiatives that prioritize the preservation of cultural heritage, community engagement, and environmental stewardship. By revitalizing historic buildings, engaging with local communities, and promoting responsible travel practices, these concepts offer travelers a unique and authentic experience while contributing to the sustainability and well-being of the destinations. 

As the world continues to seek sustainable travel alternatives, the strategy of creating a tourist town serves as an inspiring model that demonstrates how tourism can be a catalyst for positive change, preserving cultural treasures and fostering a more sustainable future.

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