DestiMED´s Protected Area Ecotourism Packages Demonstrate Strengths in Connecting Visitors to Nature, Gastronomy, and Local People
DestiMED completed its spring assessment last month, evaluating 11 ecotourism packages designed to support conservation of protected areas. Five parks tested refined packages which improved based on feedback from an earlier test, while another 6 tested products for the very first time. This in-depth assessment allowed the project team to identify several trends across the region. Strengths included:
- Genuine and participatory culture and nature-based experiences with local people
- High-quality meals, cooking, and wine/beer tastings
- Friendly, passionate, and knowledgeable group leaders and local guides, who connect travelers to the protected area and surrounding communities
“Our Group Leader carries the history of the park in his DNA. His anecdotes were a great way of introducing and contextualizing all the places that we visited.” shared one of the DestiMED expert testers.
Packages were tested in six countries, including Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, and Albania.. After each test, a group of tester experts completed an in-depth survey, and each package was evaluated according to a set of quality and sustainability criteria which were developed for Mediterranean protected area ecotourism under the framework of DestiMED and the newly launched MEET Association. A further analysis of the packages' Ecological Footprint, performed in partnership with Global Footprint Network, will soon be completed and shared with each of the protected areas.
In addition to the assessment, each protected area received a set of customized recommendations designed to help them respond to their challenges and identified needs. They will now work together with their Local Ecotourism Clusters (LECs) to refine their packages accordingly and prepare for next steps, which will include promotional opportunities for those parks achieving the highest thresholds of quality and sustainability.
DestiMED will continue testing packages this Fall and next Spring, allowing the parks further opportunity to improve their performance and work toward promotion in the MEET Guide.