Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas
Sustainable tourism is
Good for Parks, Good for People!
Our iconic landscapes are often one of the most cited reasons for tourist visits to Europe.
Tourism is booming business. It produces almost 5% of the world’s economic turnover, employs around 200 million people globally and is the fastest growing industry. Tourism is also one of the main economic drivers of Europe’s rural economies; directly and indirectly it accounts for around 10% of European GDP and 20 million jobs.
Between 2000 and 2010 European countries recorded over 440 million annual international visitor arrivals. On top of this, an even greater amount of tourism activity can be added in the form of own-country (domestic) tourists and people on day trips (Practical, profitable, protected. A starter guide to developing sustainable tourism in protected areas. ECEAT International, the European Centre for Eco and Agro Tourism in partnership with the EUROPARC Federation 2012).
EUROPARC has long recognised the need to take care of both the land and the people who live and work there, and often derive their livelihoods from those who come to appreciate these special places. We understand that not only are parks themselves facing challenges and pressure from visitation and misuse on the land they manage, but have the opportunity and potential to act as catalysts for sustainability and life style changes at a local and regional and indeed national level.
In 1993 EUROPARC published the ground breaking report “Loving them to death”, which called for sustainable tourism in Europe’s Protected Areas. Further in 1995, EUROPARC took the initiative to set up the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.
What is the Charter?
The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas is a practical management tool that enables Protected Areas to develop tourism sustainably. It is a process divided in 3 parts:
The first and main part is for sustainable destinations – primarily around a Protected Area. This is awarded to the protected area authority and covers a specifically defined Charter Area which may be wider than the legally designated protected area.
For sustainable local tourism businesses within the Charter Area.
For sustainable tour operators bringing visitors to protected areas.
The core element of the “Charter” is working in partnership with all relevant stakeholders to develop a common sustainable tourism strategy and an action plan on the basis of a thorough situation analysis. The aim of all Charter projects and activities is the protection of the natural and cultural heritage and the continuous improvement of tourism in the Protected Area in terms of the environment, local population and businesses as well as visitors. For all detail in the benefits sustainable tourism can bring to your area see our magic numbers infographics at the end of this page.
Now, after over 20 years experience, the “Charter” has been shown to be a useful and important tool that delivers social, environmental and economic benefits and indeed can be described as a model of governance that delivers Protected Areas as sustainable tourism destinations. Check the list of Sustainable Destinations and find below inspirational ideas from parks themselves.
Contact us to find out more about the European Charter and how your Protected Area can join the Charter network and make your area good for business and good for biodiversity!