Painting holiday in Andalucia, watercolours and more

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Painting holiday in Andalucia, watercolours and more

Cartajima is a small but thriving community. The town hall, the Ayuntamiento, are doing a great job keeping traditions alive and providing opportunities for youngsters to keep them in the village.

My intention is always to help where I can, employ only local people or companies, encourage villagers to participate in small sustainable tourist enterprises, and do what we can to create entrepreneurial opportunities.

At our Andalucia accommodation we employ only women from our village who traditionally do not have the opportunities available to their male counterparts. We encourage our employees to take as active a role in the running of the accommodation as they can, and hope to offer them training in all aspects of hotel management - including environmental practices such as saving water.

Our purchases are all made within a 20 km radius of the village except for a few specialist items but less and less of the things we need are sourced outside our local area preferring Andalucian products and services.

We strive to keep our environmental impact as low as it can be whilst retaining the level of luxury that our guests demand. Some of our projects have been culturally unacceptable such as composting. I tried to rent a little bit of land outside the village where we could make compost but the people are frightened of the idea, believing that it will attract unwanted vermin and others (wild boar perhaps!) apart from that failure I believe we have put in place over the years many energy and resource saving systems - no disposables, low energy lighting, solar panels, drought resistant plants where possible to mention just a few of our efforts.

In regular meetings with the mayor of this small community, we try to help him explore ideas for generating wealth in the village. We protest about outside workers coming in and environmentally unsustainable plans. We promote tourism to him as the future for the village - a sustainable, useful sort of tourism that will enable the villagers.

We contribute generously to all traditional events in order to assist the village in retaining its cultural heritage. Easter and the summer feria are the two main festivals which we support and encourage our guests to participate.

In an effort to spread the wealth, we encourage our guests to explore the village and patronise the bars and little shops. Each room has a folder with information about what is available in Cartajima, the Alto Genal valley, and in nearby Ronda. Our guests are always culturally sensitive and find that the villagers are eager to talk with strangers - not so many come this way!

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