On 25 September, DestiMED will launch the first of seven pilot tests taking place this fall in and around protected area communities. Local cooperation teams have created new ecotourism packages, and will be welcoming a group of industry experts who will evaluate and provide feedback on the quality and market viability of the packages.
The testers will also help collect data for an innovative approach to measuring and reducing the environmental impact of tourism on the natural resources that sustain protected area communities. This new tool is based on the established Ecological Footprint framework, and is being developed during DestiMED project by IUCN in collaboration with globally-recognized research organization Global Footprint Network.
DestiMED is an EU-funded cooperation project of the Interreg Mediterranean Sustainable Tourism Programme. The project brings together a network of 13 protected areas in six Mediterranean countries to collectively develop, manage, and promote ecotourism that inspires transformative nature experiences and cultural exchange. DestiMED builds on the success of a previous project called the MEET Network (Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism). MEET has now been established as a non-profit Destination Management Organization, and is focused on further developing and promoting a high-quality portfolio of protected area ecotourism experiences in the region.
“Our aim is to interact constructively with our natural resources and to broadcast our legacy positively, while protecting the River Ebre as an icon of our lands”, said Josep Aragonés, Terres de l’Ebre Biosphere Reserve Director. “For this reason, projects like DestiMED that advocate sustainable tourism are fully aligned with our objectives as a protected area”.
The seven protected areas participating in the fall tests include:
● Colline Metallifere Tuscan Mining Park (Italy)
● Kornati National Park (Croatia)
● Menorca Biosphere Reserve (Spain)
● Nature Park Lastovo Islands (Croatia)
● Samaria National Park, Crete (Greece)
● Terres De L´Ebre Biosphere Reserve (Spain)
● Torre del Cerrano Marine Park (Italy)
The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation is one of the partners of this project led by the Lazio Region. The other partners are from the Mediterranean basin: FEDERPARCHI – Europarc (Italy), the Mediterranean Protected Area Network (MedPAN), WWF Adria, WWF Mediterranean Programme, and National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) in Albania. IUCN-Med plays an important role in the coordination of the communication work package, and the definition of the Mediterranean Ecotourism standards and the investigation of a related monitoring tool to assess the sustainability of ecotourism in protected areas.