Project evaluation

STEPPA - Sustainable Tourism in Enterprises, Parks and Protected Areas

Grant programme 2009: Knowledge networks for the competitiveness and sustainability of European Tourism

Sustainable Tourism in Enterprises, Parks and Protected Areas (STEPPA) is a new project funded through the European Commission DG Enterprise. It responds to the call: Knowledge Networks for the competitiveness and sustainability of European tourism. The STEPPA project, will seek to gather evidence from tourism business working in protected areas certified with European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.

Project Objectives:

To promote and strengthen the cooperation between the different experiences and certification initiatives for small and micro tourism enterprises working with (Charter) protected areas (PAs), through the sharing, levelling and enhancement of their sustainability practices and criteria, and strengthen their competitiveness through the development of  working partnerships between these initiatives and specialized research and support centres for tourism sustainability.

  • Sharing of experiences and comparison of sustainability standards being used or developed with businesses partners of (Charter) PAs, and promoting the harmonization of working and sustainability criteria across Europe.
  • Development of a sustainability learning network between Charter Areas, their business partners and tourism research centres for demonstration of links between promotion of sustainable practices, increased competitiveness and growth in conservation awareness and support.
  • Development and piloting of a set of research tools for the identification of key trends and determinant factors in sustainable tourism on Charter protected areas, visitors’ values and perceptions, market trends, and local businesses’ financial and strategic gains from implementing sustainable management approaches and partnering with protected areas.
  • Promoting capacity building of business owners and protected areas’ managers on sustainable tourism approaches, criteria and evaluation.
  • Disseminate best practices at multi-scales, from business networks at protected area level to regional, national and European networks of businesses, parks and public-private Charter forums working with the Charter.
  • Create permanent online networking platform including sustainable tourism best practices and research tools for European protected areas, available to parks, small and micro businesses, specialist tour operators and other interested parties.

Project partners

The project is led by the University of Eastern Finland, by previous Alfred Toepfer Scholar winner Henna Konu, with Xavier Font from the University of Leeds and Fernando Correia. They will comprise a project team which will undertake a thorough scientific analysis of the value of the Charter for businesses.

Partners in the project included established Charter parks, Harz National Park (D), Alpi Marittime and Adamello Brenta Nature Parks (IT) and the Andalucian network of 15 Charter Parks. In addition those considering Charter application, such as the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, Muránska Planina National Park are part of the project and also networks interested in the process, e.g. the Latvian Country Holidays association and CoaST Cornish business network. The EUROPARC Federation will of course also play a large part in its realisation.

Project updates

STEPPA came to a close on 30th November 2011. The resulting documents can be downloaded on this page. The final press release can be found here as well.

For more information please contact the EUROPARC Directorate

Website by: Julian Guy

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