Along with “grain-free” and “kale,” “sustainable” is a hot term right now, with everything from cars to clothes to cat food claiming to fall under the (recyclable) umbrella. In business, manufacturing, food production, and more, “sustainable” can mean a number of things…perhaps meaning that a practice is feasible long-term for employees, maybe it’s zero-waste for the environment, or it’s an activity that supports a community in economic recovery.
In the tourism industry, the word is thrown around with great abandon, with no official meaning or standing. For some travelers, “sustainable” could mean traveling lightly by using public transport, carrying a backpack, and buying food at local markets rather than supermarkets. For another, a “sustainable” tour might mean riding a hydroponic, organic horse through a non-GMO, CrossFit-obsessed forest, led by a gluten-free vegan guide. Ok, not really, but you get the point. Without a clear and definite understanding, “sustainable” can be unclear at best and completely misleading at worst.
At Tenedor Tours, we pride ourselves on offering sustainable tourism, based on what it means to us: we believe in a type of tourism that is sustainable because it supports and respects the community in which it takes place.
The type of tourism that we offer is small-scale, meaning that we get to know our clients personally, we travel around town in small groups - often blending right into a crowd of locals, and we are able to adjust and make changes on the fly. Our clients are happy with the personal attention that they receive, passersby are happy because we aren’t taking over the entire sidewalk or shop, and we are happy being able to provide our clients with personalized experiences and lifetime memories.
The type of tourism that we offer is locally-sourced, meaning that we are all either long-term, no-plans-to-leave residents or natives of the Basque region. We know San Sebastian and the surrounding areas inside and out; it is our passion and job to do so. We know the ins and outs, the shortcuts and backroads, the hidden gems and tiny taverns. We do not skim the surface, visiting the places that cater specifically to tourists, but instead we invite you to join us in experiencing the true San Sebastian from an insider’s perspective.
The type of tourism that we offer supports a good local economy, meaning that we walk the walk when it comes to sourcing ingredients, dining at restaurants, visiting producers, and recommending shops. The places that we take you to are the places where we eat, shop, and visit ourselves. For example, the restaurant where you have lunch is owned by a chef we know and respect, and he may have bought his vegetables or cheeses from a farm that you visited that the morning, and the wine you drink could’ve come from our txakoli-making friends that you met yesterday. The shops we frequent, both with our guests and for our own homes, are locally-owned by responsible, hard-working and creative folks, people who do their part to sell products made by local producers, who in turn make products with ingredients from this very corner of the world. We do our best to “keep it close” by making sure that we (and our guests) support the community which makes Tenedor Tours possible in the first place.
The type of tourism that we offer can be limitless, meaning that we have many long-term clients that come back to San Sebastian time and again, always finding something new to do, to taste, or to see. While we do offer a list of activities and experiences, these are just suggestions. We love nothing more than having clients come back to us, knowing that with each trip to the Basque Country, it becomes a more familiar place, while it also continuously offers something new.