Analysis of first round of tests reveals strengths of DestiMED ecotourism packages along with many opportunities to improve
DestiMED has completed a first round of testing for seven new ecotourism packages designed to support conservation of protected areas. An expert of the quality and sustainability of each package at both regional and local scale was finalized in January 2018. 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 project's protected areas.
The project's first seven ecotourism packages, which took place in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Croatia, were developed and tested in Fall 2017 by a group of international ecotourism experts. After each test, experts completed an in-depth survey, and each package was evaluated according to a set of criteria and indicators currently being developed for Mediterranean protected area ecotourism under the framework of DestiMED. Project partners then met in Gaeta, Italy in December to review and discuss the evaluations and identify common trends appearing across the region. Among the common strengths identified, were the presence of passionate tour leaders and tour guides, both key aspects of connecting visitors in a meaningful and fun way to local communities and the natural and cultural resources of protected areas. Other positives were traditional gastronomic experiences, the incredible nature of all the protected areas and the authenticity of experiences which have been handcrafted for each package.
"Food was a real highlight, and I especially loved the dinner and opportunity to meet chefs, farmers, etc, who shared their stories and their souls. This was perfect!" - Shared one of the DestiMED ecotourism experts.
In addition to their 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 Economic Clusters (LECs) to refine their packages accordingly. DestiMED will host a regional training program in Split, Croatia in early March, which will support all pilot sites and their private sector partners in making improvements towards priority areas. This spring, DestiMED enters a new stage. The project will feature 10 more tests with ecotourism experts from around the world, operating from April through June 2018. These will include six new packages in Albania, France, and Italy, while four protected areas will test their refined offers and aim to improve their results from the first assessment. If you are interested in becoming a tester for DestiMED, please fill out the following application before 22 February.