#DestiMED Final Event confirms growing interest for Ecotourism in the Med

After 3 exciting years of implementation, the results from DestiMED Project were presented in Rome from 22-23 October. Representatives from Mediterranean Protected Areas, local administrations, ecotourism operators, journalists and conservation specialists came together to celebrate the key achievements of a solid cooperation supported by a fast growing network.

DestiMED's Final Event in Rome offered a detailed overview of the results and scope of an innovative project funded by Interreg-MED to foster sustainable tourism in Mediterranean protected areas. From governance and policy recommendations, to best practices for the development of ecotourism products, impact monitoring and dissemination of new publications, this event reflected on the many different aspects of ecotourism and showed the enthusiasm of the Mediterranean ecotourism community.

The first day started with a session of DestiMED's Steering Committee of partners, followed by a press conference and a presentation of the project key achievements. Later, attendees were given the opportunity to participate in 3 parallel Think Tanks on governance, product development and impact monitoring. In the evening, the participating protected areas were publically acknowledged for their improvements and accomplishments throughout the project.

During the second day of the event, 
a panel of experts from EUROPARC Federation, the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and NGOs Plan Bleu and SMILO joined a session to discuss DestiMED's Policy Paper. Finally, the event closed with the presentation of conclusions from the 3 think tanks from the previous day and speeches by Giampiero Sammuri (Federparchi), Luigi Cabrini (Global Sustainable Tourism Council), Claudia Guzzon (CPMR) and Vito Consoli (Lazio Region). Right after the event, participants were invited to attend the General Assembly of MEET - the association of protected areas created by the project.



At the press conference, representatives from Lazio Region, IUCN-Med (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and WWF Mediterranean offered an introduction to the framework of the DestiMED Project and answered questions from a full room of journalists. Whilst the first discussions focused on the potential of ecotourism as an alternative to traditional mass tourism, journalists soon became interested in DestiMED's commercial approach and MEET - the association created by the project to help the protected areas market the resulting packages.

As a project aiming to preserve nature in protected areas, impact monitoring meant a significant part of the work developed by DestiMED. At this point, the discussion was handed over to DestiMED's scientific partner - the
Global Footprint Network, who explained how the Ecological Footprint methodology had been applied to measure, monitor and reduce the ecological impact of DestiMED's ecotourism products. Besides, the assessment carried out by the DestiMED partners in 13 Mediterranean protected areas has provided some tangible results: in most packages, the collected data suggest that food could be the highest contributor and primary component to adjust the ecological impact.

This explanation served as a preparation for one of the main highlights of the press conference: the official launch of the DestiMED Calculator. Thanks to this tool, protected areas in the Mediterranean region and beyond will have the opportunity to design and test their own ecotourism packages online free of cost.

#DestiMED has managed to apply the principles of the European Charter of #SustainableTourism and turn them into real #tourism products, which is very positive" - explains Paolo Pigliacelli from @Federparchi at #DestiMEDFinalEvent @EUROPARC @MEDCommunity3_1 @MEDProgramme pic.twitter.com/SE51iYa9Ww

— MEET Network (@MedEcotourism) October 22, 2019



Three speeches inaugurated DestiMED's Final Event - Enrica Onorati (Lazio Region, Italy), Jelena Sobat (Ministry of Tourism of Croatia) and Elena Di Raco (Agenzia Nazionale del Turismo in Italy) underlined the urgent need to work towards sustainable tourism as a part of national and regional policies. 

Happy to have participated in the policy round table of #DestiMEDFinalEvent reflecting on an improved #governance for #ecotourism: looking forward to working together in #DestiMED+ ‼️‼️@MEDCommunity3_1 @MEDProgramme @RegioneLazio @SMILO_org @planbleu @EUROPARC @IUCN_Med @WWFMed https://t.co/WFvmefYAeT

— InterMed Commission (@IMC_CPMR) October 23, 2019

In the next session, the team of DestiMED partners explained how they had worked together to develop new standards for designing high-quality ecotourism packages and  enhance collaboration between the public and private sector around the protected Areas using the instrument of the Local Ecotourism Cluster (LEC). The best practices for managing ecotourism in protected areas from the project a in a manual, publically available on DestiMED's project site. Finally, the Global Footprint Network offered an overview of the challenges and outcomes from the monitoring phase, based on a case study from Samaria National Park



As open platforms for discussion and exchange of information, the 3 different think-tanks enabled the participants to share their own insights and personal experiences. But most importantly, these tanks tanks proved to be a useful tool for discovering new outcomes and detecting needs for future actions. Here is a list of their conclusions:

  GOVERNANCE product


for the Local Ecotourism Cluster (LEC):

* Importance of involving public & private sector
* Keeping the public sector engaged - Focus on what they really care about

on a regional level:
* Increase cooperation between different divisions within public sector
* Share case studies

on a Mediterranean level:
* Benefit from existing frameworks
(Barcelona Convention, Panoramed,


* Need for a regional taskforce that oversees integration of funding streams
* Strengthen LEC support by:
- involving tourism boards
- Improving destination management
- Bringing stakeholders together to work around a common agenda
- Scaling up these structures


- Create systematic relationship between LEC and ITOs
- Make testing more consistent:
* Shorter process
* Define tester selection criteria
* Establish clear framework
- Create more flexible packages
(e.g. in terms of duration)


* Create a LEC at a regional level




- Consider socioeconomic criteria
- Importance of figures/data/ EF values to market the packages
- Work towards certification
- Simplify process of obtaining data
- Scale up to destination level and scale up to “pillars of sustainability”
- Others: major differences in how public administration cooperates depending on the park, region, country 


- Create a legal framework
- Need for more funding
- Capitalize on results
- Need for more political commitment
- Others: new taxonomy of certification for sustainable business activities


A final party was the perfect setting to thank and acknowledge the protected areas and ITOs for their efforts and dedication to the project.


By clicking on each of the following icons, you will be able to read the articles published by the DestiMED partners on their websites:

DestiMED Final Event in the Media

The event was covered by Mediterranean media, project partners and nature parks. Here are some of examples:







For the complete list of articles and press releases, please visit this link.