All news

Sustainable tourism sparking emulation in the Montpellier Métropole area

Information updated on 23/02/23

Eco-responsible and socially engaged tourism offerings are growing in the Montpellier Métropole area. Here’s a panorama of some of the professionals implementing good practices, all the more inspiring because of their success.

From Oasis Citadine de Flaugergues to Jardins de Cocagne Mirabeau, Alice Benisty-Triay offers tours filled with meaning. Founder of the Perma Social Club travel agency based in Le Crès just northeast of Montpellier, she offers accredited classes in permaculture and an ecotourism program throughout the Montpellier Métropole and Occitanie territories, focusing on activities practicing sustainable tourism that apply the main principles of permaculture, namely methodology based on sharing and respect for biodiversity and people, striving to take inspiration for the manner in which natural ecosystems function.
There’s nothing marginal about this approach in the Montpellier Métropole area. “Every day, I discover new players who enable me to expand my offering of excursions, experiences, and small-scale stays,”  highlights Alice Benisty-Triay, whose agency recently won the ADEME Open Innovation #Tourism Challenge: Sustainable Heritage and Territories in the Occitanie Area, organized by ADEME, in partnership with Retis. Three other laureates were selected: “La Georgette”, “L’Abeille Verte”, and “La Forêt de Demain”.
Perma Social Club’s efforts are assisted by Montpellier BIC, member of the Retis network. Montpellier BIC is helping the startup refine its business model, which is to “present landscapes in a new way and support an economy that holds meaning.” Alice Benisty-Triay thus fulfills real-world expectations. Today, tourists are increasingly interested in reducing the environmental impact of their vacations, observes Christelle Bedes, in charge of ADEME Occitanie’s sustainable tourism mission, where the institution supports ecological transition in the tourist industry, notably with its Sustainable Tourism Fund.
While this trend has been building over the past several years, the number of tourism professionals wanting to provide an eco-responsible offering has risen considerably, particularly since the health crisis.

“This fund provides aid to 180 projects, including 25 in the Hérault department. Over 330 Sustainable Tourism audits have been performed. In addition, the number of requests regarding good practices and sustainable tourism has risen sharply over the past two years,” confirms Christelle Bedes.

Growth in this sector in the Montpellier Métropole area is clear, especially as the environment is ideal for it. The first metropolis in France to sign a Local Pact for Ecological Transition, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole is also present on the front lines. Public authorities initiated and earned the Vignobles et Découvertes label (a national “vineyards and discoveries” promotional program) that highlights the area’s wine tourism opportunities and local winemakers “committed to quality and sustainable viticulture”. Perma Social Club is one of the agencies that has earned the Vignobles et Découvertes label as part of the Destination Vignobles de Montpellier initiative.
In addition, the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole Tourist Office and Convention Bureau promotes local environmentally friendly tourism professionals who have earned a recognized label for environmental respect, sustainable development, or CSR,” such as restaurants, accommodations, leisure activities, local producers, and wineries. On October 6-7, 2022, Montpellier Métropole welcomed and provided support for the eighth edition of the Sustainable Tourism Universities event, which attracted 480 industry professionals from all around France.  
It is true that the players operating in this territory are aware of the issues related to sustainable tourism. There are a number of local initiatives on the topic. Alice Benisty-Triay has certainly noticed this and mentions the Vignoble de la Vineuse vitiforestry project in Lattes, as well as La Forêt Lattoise.
Other dedicated players include Château de Flaugergues, which has been taking an eco-responsible approach since 2014.

“It is important for us to showcase our way of working through an agroecological perspective,” summarizes Pierre de Colbert, director of the winery hosting Oasis Citadine.

In Combaillaux, north of Montpellier, Domaine de l’Oulivie is also an active ambassador for good practices related to sustainable tourism. Big fans of permaculture, Pierre Vialla and his wife carry on a long-standing family tradition in table olive production.

“Our employees give guided tours of our site. We have trained them so that they are knowledgeable about their work and the good practices we promote. This enables us to create ties and talk with people about our work methods in harmony with nature, where the animal, vegetable, and human kingdoms all learn to live together,” he explains.

Sustainable tourism is taking root in the Montpellier Métropole area for the long-term. Now all it needs is you!