Laure, can you tell us a little more about your role within the Communauté de Communes?
I’d be delighted to! I’ve been coordinator of the East Corsica Local Action Group since 2015 and I’m responsible for its administrative and financial management, but my favourite part of the job is, of course, supporting project leaders.
Has networking the “green” tourism offering via your various media (website, social networks, brochures) been an easy task? And how has this new tourism vision been received by the region’s professionals?
I’ll admit that to begin with we were a little worried that this initiative would be seen as a white elephant and a little outside the realm of professionals’ real concerns. We were very pleasantly surprised by the incredibly positive reception we got from so many in the sector. I think now that this Ecotourism network is 3 years old, we’ve achieved a real collective dynamic with a high level of sector engagement.
You’re providing a lot of information and trying to raise awareness about a kind of tourism that’s more respectful. Do you have any major projects happening in 2021 given the huge health crisis that started the year?
I quickly realised that I wasn’t really qualified when it comes to tourism issues, strictly speaking. We are of course working with the various Tourist Offices, however, and have chosen to surround ourselves with specific skills by recruiting Annabelle Gossein, an incredibly motivated young woman and graduate of the Corte Master of Tourism programme, who is strongly committed to environmental issues. She’s brought a fresh approach to how we communicate and promote this initiative. For a year now, she’s also been in charge of a flagship project to create a shared tool: a welcome booklet aimed at raising visitor awareness about their environmental impact and the actions that can make a difference while also promoting the island. We’re of course still involved with our other activities, with workshops, meeting days and promotional activities.
As a citizen, how do you strive to be environmentally responsible in your day to day life?
Very good question! The search for consistency is a quest full of contradictions ... I sort, I compost, I have a garden where I grow fruit and vegetables, I filter water so I don’t have to buy it bottled and I have an electric bike that I try to use when doing my shopping and for trips at the weekend. But there’s still so much to do! I still consume far too much .. especially through the internet and I also use my car a lot, eat exotic fruits and spend too much time staring at screens!
You said you have your own vegetable garden … What do you grow? Can you give us some tips on how to ensure a good harvest?
To be honest, I’m really only assistant to the chief gardener, my partner ... The would be a long list! We try to eat only what we grow… but there are still a few vegetables we have to buy in winter … we need to get better at cauliflower and carrots! Secrets? Be sure to mulch properly? Give your garden your time, it will ultimately reward you!
Which walks or exceptional natural sites would you recommend to someone who doesn’t know the area? In your opinion, in which season is Corsica best discovered?
L’étang d’Urbinu [Urbino pond] at sunrise on a clear day and at the moment when there’s still snow on the peaks? a wonder … Corsica is best discovered all year round!!!
Three words to describe Eastern Corsica?
Natura è scontri: nature, encounters and wide open spaces.
There are some ideas for stays on your website, which would you choose if you were just discovering the area? Would you choose quirky, adventure, wellbeing or gourmet?
Yes, Annabelle Gossein did some fantastic work coming up with these suggestions during her first stint with us … you want to do it all! If I had to choose though, it would be the slow tourism experience!
Eastern Corsica extends between mountains and sea … Are you more of a scrub or fine sand person?
Fine sands in winter but I’d take the scrub when the tourist season begins!
Discovering an area through the men and women who make it, is a no-brainer. Do you have any favourites?
This question’s too hard! I’m very attached to all of our network members who, over and above their human qualities, apply themselves day in, day out, to the task of developing their activities in a way that is respectful of environmental and humanist values. Choosing a favourite really isn’t possible. They’re all favourites!
Last question: Why is Eastern Corsica the most beautiful area?
Because it’s lively and authentic! And it’s first and foremost a place that’s more than its tourist activity. Rich in organisations and infrastructure, it’s alive all year round. The word authenticity is used so often that it loses a little of its meaning. But visitors want truth and expect the people and places that they visit to be authentic ... In East Corsica, that’s how it is.