New Webstory by Jeremy Sampson, DestiMED Project and MEET Network Secretariat.
1) No longer just a token side show at important industry events, sustainable tourism has taken center stage not only for development professionals but for those doing the every-day work of buying, selling, and running trips around the world. Participants and presenters at the conference talked about the need for fast action to combat climate change, tourism impacts, and the business imperative of protecting destinations and their rich array of natural and cultural resources. But that´s not all. The industry is starting to take a hard look internally at the role and responsibility each company is playing, while looking for solutions that can help them better understand their impacts and ensure they are not deepening the problem across their value chains.
2) Many participants to the conference in Tuscany´s charming Montecatini Terme flew first into Florence and got to witness first-hand, even in mid-October, a taste of the syndrome on everyone´s lips: Overtourism. Crowded streets, long lines, jam-packed monuments and, most importantly, not a great experience. The EU is currently at the epicenter of this problem, with destinations up and down the continent battling similar challenges, but also plenty of examples of better planning, solid holistic management, and driving forward with alternative tourism products focused on higher-value visitors and more equitable distribution.
3) There are still many new places left to discover, even here in the Mediterranean. And there is a genuine demand for these fresh new destinations. We had a busy week presenting the new MEET Catalogue to buyers, media, and other partners, and we sensed a real appreciation from the market to learn about new places that are not already well known by travelers, yet equally incredible and accessible. Take our North Catalonia product near the Pyrenees, just a quick trip from Barcelona, but relatively empty and unknown. Or Monte Rufeno, a hidden locale very close to Rome where the real Italy can still be found. In these days of overtourism, there is a genuine thirst to discover new places that can provide travelers with high-quality experiences. And equally so, an industry-wide desire to ensure that we all work together to manage these places well and treat them with the respect they deserve as they welcome new visitors in the coming years.
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