The first European Charter for Sustainable Tourism business partners in the Baltics

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In early February, the Estonian Environmental Board awarded ECST Part II certification to 10 local business partners who are working with Protected Areas to promote and deliver sustainable tourism.

Photo credit: Nele Sõber

The first European Charter for Sustainable Tourism business partners in the Baltics

The Estonian Environmental Board, Keskkonnaamet, is a proud member of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST). This year, they celebrated taking the next step with the ECST programme by verifying local businesses to become ECST Part II Partners. The ECST Part II are local business partners who commit to the ethos of this charter and participate in regular meetings to create and implement the sustainable tourism action plan for the Protected Area.

This awards ceremony is the first of its kind in the Baltics and is a big acheivement with 10 businesses certified. EUROPARC celebrates their commitment to continue to support the development of sustainable tourism in Matsalu, Lahemaa and Soomaa National Parks!

Sustainable tourism is Good for Parks, Good for People!

Below you can read about each of the Estonian ECST Part II partners:

Kodade Creative Centre

Business type: accommodation, event centre, tours and events

Kodade works with the Matsalu National Park on a mission to support sustainable, nature-friendly life experiences. They offer an opportunity to connect with nature, through sensory and creative activities, and with culture, through restored historical buildings and localities. Visiting Kodade and the Matsalu National Park is the ideal destination for nature and creativity enthusiasts and every year many are welcomed to take part in the creativity camps, photography training, nature hikes and boat trips and much more!

To find out more, visit their website.

Celebrating the ECST Part II awards with partners from Matsalu National Park. Photo credit: Nele Sõber

Piesta Kuusikaru Farm

Business type: accommodation, culinary & cultural experiences

For over 150 years, the Piesta family farm has been living a life committed to the values of nature and community. The family, who have been caring for this land for many generations, want to share this rich cultural history with visitors coming to the Soomaa region and offer food tasting experiences as well as tours of the sustainable farming and crafting practices. For those looking for a travel back in time, the small riverside cottage with its traditional wood-heated sauna is available for overnight stays.

To find out more, visit their website.

Pure Water Theme Park & Ubari Center of Natural Wisdom

Business type: environmental education and excursions

Water connects us all and at the Pure Water Theme Park, where especially the young can come and learn about nature and how everything is connected. The park hosts many visitors and groups over the year, teaching them through fun outdoor learning experiences. Similarly, the Ubari Centre of Natural Wisdon is a provider of outdoor tours, experiencing nature in all its diversity for many different groups of people. Both are operated by the same company, which is committed to promoting a sustainable lifestyle by fostering a love for nature.

To find out more, visit the Pure Water Theme Park website and the Ubari Cenre of Natural Wisdom website.

Alutaguse Hiking Club

Business type: environmental education and excursions

This hiking club is committed to increasing the quality of outdoor activities by developing good relationships with partners such as the local Protected Areas and improving the environmental awareness of participants, members and customers. The hiking club has more to offer than just hiking, they also run youth camps, training courses for guides, climbing competitions and an Adventure Festival.

To find out more, visit their website.

Lahemaa Ecotourism

Business type: environmental education and excursions

Lahemaa Ecotourism has professional staff who assist local, national and international tourists have a great experience in the Lahemaa National Park and surrounding area. They are committed to providing quality service to their customers while having little to no impact on the environment and positively involving the local community.

To find out more, visit their website.

Lobi Cultural Villiage Museum

Business type: environmental education, culinary & cultural experiences

This museum is located on the Lobi Peninsula, one of the longest in Lahemaa National Park. Here, it showcases the rich cultural history of the local area, exploring themes from nature protection, to traditional livelihoods. As a business, they are committed to supporting the lifelong learning of all visitors through experiential activities, such as tasting the “Northern-Estonian local food” for which the Lobi Cultural Village Museum has a quality label.  Similarly, the local staff have an inexhaustable knowledge of the regional and historical culture which they are open to sharing with visitors of all ages.

To find out more, visit their website.

Celebrating the ECST Part II awards with partners from Lahemaa National Park. Photo credit: Nele Sõber

Tipu Nature School

Business type: environmental education & excusions

The Tipu Nature School is an NGO with a mission to connect people to nature. They run the old Tipu schoolhouse, which can be found in Soomaa National Park where they contribute by taking care of a local hiking trail, installing signs in three languages, and caring for a wooded meadow. Not only do they offer camps and outdoor activities, they also have summer volunteer placements highlighting their committment to being a place for learning, exchange and solidarity. In addition to introducing visitors to the natural and cultural heritage of Soomaa National Park region, the Tipu Nature School also strives to foster attitudes and motivation, which drives people to make informed decisions and take responsible action for nature and a sustainable future.

To find out more, visit their website.

Matka-Rebane (which means Hiking Fox)

Business type: environmental education & excusions

Matka-Rebane provides tours out in nature, introducing visitors to the nature in Soomaa across all seasons, showcasing both the natural and the cultural heritage of the landscapes and local communities. They are passionate about connecting people with nature through experiencing emotions while out in nature and using this to promote nature-friendly attitudes and behaviours.

To find out more, visit their Facebook page.

Soomaa Holiday Village

Business type: accommodation, tours and events

You can find the Soomaa Holiday Village on the banks of the Halliste River in the middle of Soomaa National Park. From here, their guests can participate in hiking, canoeing, cycling or relax in the sauna. For the small family-run business, it is important that the guests are familiar and practice ethical and sustainable outdoor behaviour and promote this through a personal approach.

To find out more, visit their website.

Business type: environmental education & excursions

This small local nature tourism company has been active in Soomaa National Park for over 25 years. Not only do they provide a plethora of guided tours in all seasons, they also promote cultural heritage through boat building workshops to promote the traditions of local dugout canoes, which were used during regular flooding (known as the 5th season). Their highly capable guides enjoy working with visitors from across the world and provide high quality nature interpretation while hiking, canoeing or snowshoeing.

To find out more, visit their website.

Celebrating the ECST Part II awards with partners from Soomaa National Park. Photo credit: Nele Sõber

Upcoming XII European Charter for Sustainable Tourism meeting

From the 15th to the 19th of May, tourism experts from across Europe will meet in Triglav National Park, Slovenia, to discuss, exchange and learn from each other. Interested to join them and advance your knowledge of how to implement measures for sustainable tourism and visitor monitoring?

Register Here!