World Commission on Protected Areas

Tourism - TAPAS

IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group
DestiMED in Samaria Gorge National Park, Crete

Specialist Group Leader


Anna Spenceley Photo: Anna Spenceley

IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group Strategy 2015-2020

More than 500 professionals are members of the Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, part of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

Vision: We advocate for a future where tourism enhances the conservation integrity of protected area systems, improves human well-being and provides benefits for the local population, and where there are accessible, inspiring, safe and educational opportunities for visitors through environmentally, socio-cultural and economically sustainable products and experiences.

Mission: Our mission is to provide a platform for protected area practitioners and others, where expertise and knowledge is shared, sustainability awareness is enhanced, collaboration and dialogue is facilitated, leadership is developed, and innovative solutions are fostered, in order to support the oversight of sustainable tourism in protected area systems.


  • Strengthen the capacity, effectiveness and performance of protected area managers and policy makers and others in relation to sustainable tourism, through learning, exchange and the development of information and guidance.
  • Provide an interactive forum for individuals working on protected areas and tourism, enabling strategic networking, communication, collaboration, inspiration, and partnerships
  • Provide strategic advice to protected area authorities, the tourism industry, and other stakeholders on the optimum approaches to sustainable tourism planning, development, management and monitoring in protected and natural area destinations.
  • Build awareness and understanding on sustainable tourism and protected areas by developing and disseminating knowledge, including case studies and best practice syntheses.
  • Enhance the level of tourism’s contribution to the goals of protected areas and protected area systems including biodiversity conservation, human well-being and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Enhance the capacity of WCPA through co-operative ventures with other IUCN Commissions and IUCN members as well as other networks and partners.
  • Fosters dynamic, innovative and sustainable solutions for financing and managing protected areas.

Terms of Reference:

  • provide technical advice on sustainable tourism, including biodiversity and heritage protection and conservation, where IUCN’s advice is sought.
  • develop guidelines and tools for innovative and effective management of tourism in protected and natural areas that supports sustainable development, local economic development, biodiversity conservation, human and natural health outcomes, environmental education, awareness raising, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • develop syntheses, case studies, and briefing papers to showcase best practice models and policies for sustainable tourism management, including through the facilitation of special issues of major academic journals and other publications relevant to tourism and PAs.
  • effectively communicate best practice tourism and visitor planning and management to inspire action among policy makers, planners, protected area managers, the tourism industry, development agencies and others.
  • foster professionalism and technical competence in the establishment and management and economic assessment of sustainable tourism and visitation to protected areas including assisting with publications, education, standards and capacity development, and peer-to-peer learning.
  • work with other WCPA Specialist Groups and Task Forces, IUCN Commissions and partner organisations to further the key role of PAs in achieving sustainable tourism that contributes to the conservation goals of PAs.
  • provide input towards international initiatives relevant to sustainable tourism in protected areas globally.
  • support Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the achievement of the goals of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas and to reach Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and associated targets from the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, and other multi-lateral agreements relating to sustainable tourism and biodiversity conservation.
  • Develop a model for integrating TAPAS Group work more closely with the IUCN Secretariat via discussions regarding the sponsorship of research, and delivering a joint plan of communications and approved fundraising goals with the leadership of IUCN
  • forge stronger partnerships and linkages with international agencies working on sustainable tourism that promote synergies to help achieve the mission of the TAPAS Group, including the UNWTO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, 10YFP, UNESCO and others
  • actively participate in international conferences and workshops related to sustainable tourism and protected areas, encouraging members to share their experiences, engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, and raise awareness the TAPAS Group
  • actively participate in international conferences and workshops related to sustainable tourism and protected areas, encouraging members to share their experiences, engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, and raise awareness the TAPAS Group
  • Recruit and involve a diverse range of tourism practitioners in the TAPAS Group, including from the public and private sector, civil society, and international organisations. 


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