The Travel Foundation are attending DestiMED PLUS project’s kick-off event this week in Malaga, Spain. The DestiMED PLUS project will work with regional administrations for the integration of tourism and conservation agendas in nine coastal Protected Areas of the Mediterranean region. The final goal will be the establishment of a Mediterranean wide Ecotourism Consortium, the foundation for future large-scale planning and policy frameworks which supports sustainable tourism activities in protected areas across the entire Med.
The meeting will bring together for the first time the 14 partner institutions, nine of which are regional administrations. The plan is to agree on the methodological approach for the project, as well as establish a calendar of events and activities for the duration of the project.
DestiMED PLUS, co-funded by the Interreg Med program and led by Lazio Region, is the next step on an already successful journey to promote integrated planning in Mediterranean coastal tourism, specifically focusing on Protected Areas.
The Mediterranean is a biodiversity hotspot as well as 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.
Overtourism has been highlighted by the fragmented governance across the region, where tourism and environmental agendas are rarely aligned. It makes the few remaining natural areas across the Mediterranean coastal region more vulnerable to the threats of overtourism.
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 into 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 (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 organisations 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 the setup 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.
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.
The Travel Foundation is currently supporting the DestiMED PLUS project by developing online training and learning products, to support Protected Areas managers for widespread adoption of the MEET model. The training and resources will be freely available via MEET.