DestiMED PLUS will foster the integration of Tourism and Nature Conservation Policies in 9 Mediterranean Protected Areas

This week, from 29th to 31th January, DestiMED PLUS project will host its kick- off event in Malaga, Spain. Co-funded by the EU Interreg-Med Programme and led by Lazio Region, the DestiMED PLUS project will work with regional administrations to coordinate the agendas of Tourism and Nature Conservation in 9 coastal Protected Areas across the Mediterranean. Final goal will be the establishment of a Mediterranean-wide Ecotourism Consortium, the foundation for future large-scale planning and policy frameworks supporting sustainable tourism activities in Protected Areas in the entire Mediterranean region.

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14 partner institutions, including 9 regional administrations will gather for the first time in this kick- off meeting, with the goal of planning and agreeing on the methodological approach for the project, as well as establishing a calendar of events and activities for the duration of the project. 

Despite being the second biggest biodiversity worlwide, the Mediterranean is extremely vulnerable to climate change; its coastline is increasingly susceptible to the multiple impacts of overtourism while projections estimate the arrival of 300 million tourists to the region by 2030. 

This issue is accentuated due to fragmented governance of protected areas across the region, where tourism and environmental agendas are rarely aligned. Thus, leaving the few remaining natural areas across the Mediterranean coastal region more and more vulnerable to the threats of overtourism. 

DestiMED PLUS is the next step on an already successful journey to promote integrated planning in Mediterranean coastal tourism, specifically focusing on Protected Areas.  The objective of DestiMED Plus, which builds on the successes of the previous MEET and DestiMED projects is to improve levels of integration between regional tourism and conservation policies in Mediterranean protected areas by putting in practice an integrated approach for the joint creation of ecotourism itineraries.

Participating protected areas and local tourism sector will  test DestiMED PLUS approach in nine pilot actions around the Mediterranean, representative of the nine administrations partners of the initiative: Andalucia, Catalonia, Sardinia, Crete, Corsica, Lazio, South Aegean, Croatia and Albania. Pilot actions will  be implemented  for the development of nine unique, protected area based, ecotourism itineraries which are aligned with the DestiMED PLUS standard.

The sustainability impact of all ecotourism itineraries will be assessed by expanding the DestiMED ́s Ecological Footprint approach and integrating it with a specific methodology for measuring socio-economic and governance indicators.

In addition to regional administrations, the project partnership is completed by organizations experienced in conservation and tourism,  including, IUCN Med, WWF Med, Vic University, the Institute of Tourism in Croatia and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Region (CPMR).

Thirteen project associates from the region and beyond, including Morocco, Tunisia and USA, will be supporting and providing input to the development of the project as well as support the adoption and dissemination of project results.

By the end of the project, the goal will be to set up of a Mediterranean Ecotourism Consortium (MEC) at regional scale, which will apply an integrated approach to ecotourism policy development, merging conservation, sustainability, and economic perspectives whilst also, advocating for further involvement of ecosystem-based planning processes.

The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation will be responsible for the coordination of the communication and transferring work packages, as well as of the development of the ecological footprint and governance indicators of the DestiMED PLUS standard. 

Throughout the project and beyond, the consortium will closely cooperate with MEET, a network representing the interests and needs of the Mediterranean protected area ecotourism community.

For more information about DestiMED PLUS please contact carla.danelutti@iucn.org 

DestiMED Plus logo Photo: DestiMED Project

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