Last week, DestiMED interviewed the team in Kornati National Park in Croatia, including park Project Manager Valentina Bracanov and local tour operator Tina Vickov about their experiences and most valuable learnings during the project.
“Our tour has become an example and real motivation for others” - explains Valentina, “This cooperation has improved our relations with the local community. We have also shown them that they can count on the park and can have real economic benefits while working together and at the same time preserve the area."
D: What did you learn during DestiMED Project?
V: "Before this project I wasn’t aware of the kind of ecological footprint caused by the classical tourist package. I can say I have learned how to apply ecological standards in tourism and what this really means. Today, many products are sold as "eco" but very few of them really have these elements."
In the first package presented by Kornati National Park, 80% of the ecological footprint was caused by food and drinks. Recommendations provided by the panel of experts suggested a shift towards vegetable and legume-based menus, as a means of reducing fish and meat consumption, as well as replacing plastic packages with other methods, or simply avoiding packaging.
Indeed, Tina recalls how helpful it was to receive honest feedback from international expert testers during DestiMED.
D: What will be the next steps for Kornati National Park regarding ecotourism?
T: "We will continue to create new experiences in protected areas like Kornati and Lastovo in praise of “slow tourism”. Furthermore, we will involve our knowledge in each tour we organize and in our everyday work and life."
Based on the collected feedback, the Kornati team worked hard with their Local Ecotourism Cluster to develop and test a new ecotourism package entitled Kornati Sailing Adventure – Navigate nature, culture and tradition. Kornati’s new ecotourism package offers a wide variety of exciting activities, including sailing, scuba diving, picking olives and sage, honey tastings and even monitoring dolphins.
D: How do you intend to utilize the outcomes from DestiMED project in the future?
V: "Our aim is to further integrate the local community and to use the resources and opportunities that the national park offers us in a sustainable way.
We hope that this eco tourism package will be just the beginning of a cooperation on sustainable tourism in the area, and that other parks that are not part of the DestiMED project get the opportunity to further educate and involve the local community in a similar story built on ecological standards with the promotion and conservation of the protected área."
Situated in the densest Mediterranean archipelago, Kornati National Park is mainly known for its magnificent geomorphology and underwater biodiversity, including more than 1,500 marine species. Although scarce at first site, these islands are also home to more than 650 terrestrial species hidden in Kornati ́s landscape.
If you wish to learn more about the MEET portfolio of Med ecotourism products, please visit www.meetnetwork.org