EUROPARC Star Awards 2019
Welcome to the EUROPARC Sustainable Tourism Partners’ Award.
Tourism is one of the main economic drivers of Europe’s rural areas. EUROPARC has long recognised the need to ensure a thriving, living, working landscapes that support nature and people. Tourism, therefore, has to be developed and managed along with sustainable principles, if we are to ensure a positive future. Parks and Protected Areas are at the core of the natural and cultural assets of an area and are often the main reason for visiting.
However to be a Sustainable Destination, depends on businesses, community, and municipalities all working to that common purpose.
In these STAR Awards, EUROPARC seeks to celebrate, champion and acknowledge the effort and investments made by tourism businesses to be more sustainable and help care and protect their natural and cultural heritage.
EUROPARC Star Awards 2019
EUROPARC Star Awards received applications from partners working with Sustainable Destinations across Europe. Candidates were assessed by an in-country jury and a representative from EUROPARC, and the finalists, the best from each country in each category, were then evaluated by an international jury composed by sustainable tourism experts, who selected the overall winner in each category.
Sustainability across 5 categories
There are over 500 partners across Europe, working in close collaboration with EUROPARC network of Sustainable Destinations. Under the implementation of Charter Part II – Sustainable Business Partners and Charter Part III – Sustainable Tour Operators, businesses commit to being less impactful on the environment, but also to work alongside the park, and to play a supporting role in their community.
For this first edition of EUROPARC Star Awards, EUROPARC invited all current partners to submit apply and share with the network the actions they are implementing towards working for sustainability. Each participant applied to a compulsory category “contribution to conservation” and one optional.
Get to know the winners
Contribution to Conservation
The winner in the category Contribution to Conservation is Deltapolet Natura i Sabers, partner of Delta del Ebro Natural Park in Catalonia.
Living in a period when the region’s traditional practices started to disappear as machines were slowly taking over, Mr. Polet decided to maintain the knowledge of his ancestors. His philosophy is still alive today, followed by Deltapolet’s owner and Polet’s son, who has one main goal: remain able to get and process resources without using machines or chemical products.
Deltapolet’s business is based on nature, local knowledge, sustainability and conservation. Through guided tours in the Delta del Ebro Natural Park, including education activities and an ecocultural safari, visitors are invited to experience the essence and roots of the Ebro Delta.
Reducing Impacts on the Environment
In the category Reducing impact on the environment, the jury chose La calma, cultura i lleure, partner of Montseny Natural Park in Catalonia.
La calma, cultura i lleure, (meaning “The calm, culture and leisure” in Catalan) runs a 100% energy efficient restaurant El Bellver in El Montseny Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve. The restaurant is located in a big “Masía“, an old traditional country house, in the heart of the Park, and can only be accessed by foot.
The use of local products is the company’s seal of identity. Around 80% come from the region or from Catalonia, including material used for business and management. Using spring water from the Montseny massif and solar panels, energy accumulation batteries, movement sensors and an inverted gasification biomass boiler with thermal buffer tank, El Bellver became 100 % self-sufficient in terms of energy and water.
Building my Community
Sud Randos, partner of Cévennes National Park, is the winner in the category Building my Community.
When organising tourism experiences, farmers, artisans, craftsmen, artists, and local nature are the lead actors and objects of discovery for visitors. Sud Randos’ infrastructure takes care of each detail, making sure that most of the equipment, material or food come from fair trade, local businesses, and organic production.
With culture and local traditions at the core of their touristic activities, Sud Randos strengthen the community and support preservation of traditional practices with modern incomes.
Habitats, species and potential environmental threats are taken into account when setting itineraries, numbers of visitors and ways of transport.
The winner in the category of Innovation is For Play, partner of Coastal Dunes Regional Park in Italy.
For Play’s mission is to allow visitors to explore the region, while following the principle of sustainable mobility. Equipped with a fleet of colourful electric cars, the company creates a new way to move around the Coastal Dunes Park.
Producing zero emissions and zero noise, the little cars move slowly and safely through the maze of narrow streets bordered by the stone walls of Ostuni, and the ups and downs of Itria Valley. The cars are provided with itineraries, allowing visitors to spread and discover historical sites and private areas that are not accessible by other means.
Communicating the Values of the Park and my Business
Finally, in the category focusing on Communication of the Park’s and the Business’ Values, the winner is Hotel Caminetto, partner of Adamello Brenta Natural Park in Italy.
Hotel Caminetto can be considered a role model of a sustainable hotel committed to respect the environment and protect natural resources without giving up comfort. The communication policy of Hotel Caminetto aims to make guests fully aware of the culture and nature of the place, so they can better value it.
The Hotel allows guests to experience a real sustainable holiday, by informing and encouraging them to perform certain actions and practices inside and outside of the facilities. This includes information about waste management, energy consumption, sustainable mobility and appropriate behaviour during walks to see the local flora and fauna. Visitors get their towels changed only on request and can rent equipment, such as backpacks or reusable bottles to prevent littering.
Sustainable Tourism is a journey, a collective one. The path towards becoming a sustainable destination requires the involvement of all actors, both at the private and governmental levels, to work together with a shared vision: to make tourism a high-quality experience, able to sustain local livelihoods, with a low impact on the environment. Through the implementation of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism methodology, Protected Areas start a Sustainable Journey in their territory, working side-by-side with their local community.
If Protected Areas are the catalysts of a new journey on sustainable tourism, businesses are those in the front line of action – reducing impacts, protecting nature and traditions, and inspiring visitors.
The high-level candidates of the 2019 edition showed how real sustainable action takes place, and how the benefits of a close cooperative work with their Parks.
The winner in each category will go to a public vote, where the overall winner will receive, along with a representative from the park or Protected Area with which they are a partner, a free place at the EUROPARC Conference 2020.
The Conference will take place between 27-30th October, in Neusiedler See – Seewinkel National Park, Austria.
The voting ends at 23:59 of January 31st, and the business with more votes will be the winner!
For more information please contact: b.pais @ europarc.org.