Workshop outcomes: Are we ready for ecotourism?

Photo: Delta Polet

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During the ONLINE Conference 2020, EUROPARC held 8 thematic workshops to discuss diverse topics related to practice and capacity building in Protected Areas (PAs). In case you have not attended, or want to remind yourself of their outcomes, a series of articles summarises the content of some of these workshops.

Facing the new reality for tourism

In the Conference Workshop on “Sustainable Tourism: are we ready for ecotourism as the new future?” we talked about how the end of coronavirus lockdown created a rush to parks and green spaces to celebrate the end of confinement. People recognised that Protected Areas provide an added value, important for their health and wellbeing.

We also analysed the new visitors profiles, mostly domestic visitors, that the new reality has brought to parks this summer. We discussed on what new capacities and activities would the parks need to build on in order to provide these newcomers with the best-quality services and, at the same time, safe experiences.

Photo: Sud Randos, ©Gregory Rohart

Concisely, these practical capacity building requirements of PAs and staff/organisational competencies will need to be developed to adapt to the new situation:

  • Creative and innovative thinking, not only for visitor centres but also for managers. We might encounter new crisis and we need to think differently to deal with them.
  • Social abilities: ability to meet and understand people and to avoid and solve potential conflict situations.
  • Visitor knowledge and monitoring: need to know the visitors better, understand their behaviour, their needs and how to reach them – especially new audiences such as domestic visitors, who are different from tourists (they are more families’ type) and use different channels of communication.
  • Services design thinking: in order to offer more sustainable services. It is important to know the “visitor’s path”: before, during and after the visit to the PA, in order to guarantee sustainability.
  • Visitor management plans for large numbers: How to manage large numbers of people (parking lots crowded, excess of people in sensitive areas, etc.)? Need to apply new approaches.
  • Effective communication. How to influence the behaviour of visitors effectively? How to deal with new audiences? How to make the most of this opportunity for encouraging new visitors)? Use of IT for real time info /communication contents.
  • Partnership working. How to establish partnerships with stakeholders, touristic enterprises, etc.?

Furthermore, we heard two inspiring examples of how parks and sustainable tourism entities are actively adapting to the new situation by offering new services, with more creativity, and new ways of working.

Download the presentations

1: Cairngorms National Park (Scotland): Re-starting the visitor economy in the in the strangest season ever.  #CairngormsTogether by Murray Ferguson.

2: Trentino Natura Sicura: how Trentino’s protected areas reshaped their offer in summer 2020 by Antonella Faoro.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Teresa Pastor, Project Development & Charter Sustainable Tourism Manager at EUROPARC Federation.