Advancing institutional recognition of the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas

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The European Charter of Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) is getting stronger visibility at the EU institutional level.

Bringing the ECST and EU institutions closer together

This is great news for our Sustainable Destinations and Sustainable Partners!

Three recent important steps confirmed the high interest on this topic:

  • EUROPARC Federation was selected to be part of the Commission Expert Group ‘Together for EU Tourism – T4T’ for the next three years. Our project manager Teresa Pastor will participate in the greening transition for tourism sub-group.
  • EUROPARC Federation was invited to submit pledges to the EU Transition Pathway for Tourism.
  • DG GROW and the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) announcement that they are considering equating ECST 2 (accommodations) with the EU ecolabel.

EUROPARC Federation membership of the T4T Commission Expert Group

The inaugural online meeting of the Commission Expert Group Together for EU Tourism took place on the 22 of June 2023.

The main tasks of this group are:

  • assisting DG GROW in the preparation of policy initiatives resulting from the Transition Pathway in the field of tourism;
  • supporting cooperation and coordination between the Commission, Member States and stakeholders on questions relating to the implementation of Union legislation, actions, programmes and initiatives in the field of tourism, in particular the Transition Pathway for Tourism;
  • bringing about an exchange of experience and good practice in the field of tourism in support of the implementation of the Transition Pathway for Tourism;
  • following up actions in the European Agenda for Tourism 2030.

Teresa Pastor will participate in the Green Transition for Tourism subgroup, which will provide strategic support to the Commission and the overall stakeholder community, and deliver best practices in the EU tourism ecosystem across sectors.

EUROPARC Federation invitation to submit pledges to the EU Transition Pathway for Tourism

As the 2021 Updated Industrial Strategy highlights the need to accelerate the green and digital transitions of EU Industry, a co-creation process was launched to create a Transition Pathway for Tourism.

EUROPARC’s pledges of contribution include:

Comprehensive tourism strategies development or update (topic 4) pledge

  • 100 Protected Areas in 2024 certified by EUROPARC have a local strategy of sustainable tourism, regularly internally monitored and revised each 5 years by EUROPARC verifiers.

Collaborative governance of tourism destinations (topic 5) pledge

  • 100 Protected Areas have an active Forum in 2024, organised on the base of local needs and contexts.
    The Forum participates in the identification and realisation of an ECST strategy and action plan. It is then regularly internally monitored & revised every 5 years, after the evaluation provided by EUROPARC verifiers.

Green transition of tourism companies and SMEs (topic 8) pledges

By 2026:

  • In 100 ECST Protected Areas, tourism companies and SMEs are involved in the Forum;
  • In 50 ECST Protected Areas, tourism companies and small and medium-sized enterprises adhere to the 2nd step of the ECST programme, thus becoming a Sustainable ECST Partner;
  • at least 10 Tour operators adhere to the step 3rd (become a Sustainable Tourism Operator) of the ECST;
  • The ECST Stars Competition is organised every two years and the Award ceremony is organised at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Easily accessible best practices, peer learning and networking for SMEs (topic 11) pledge

By 2026, ten case studies in will be published in the Knowledge Hub of EUROPARC website and will be promoted in news and social media.

Consideration for ECST 2 (accommodations) as an EU ecolabel.

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), in collaboration with the Commission’s DG GROW has developed the EU Tourism Dashboard. This flagship initiative is aimed at supporting the green and digital transitions of the tourism sector towards higher resilience and sustainability.

In 2022, the JRC surveyed entities managing ecolabels of tourist accommodation establishments operating in Europe. EUROPARC participated in the survey.

JRC is currently developing a new indicator on the adoption of ecolabels in the 27 EU member states. ECST 2 awarded to accommodations is being considered as a valid ecolabel for this indicator.

The indicator will be published in the next update of the EU Tourism Dashboard, foreseen for Q4 of 2023.