News from the Sustainable Destination Project

18.11.2011

Sustainable Tourism Destinations: Project partners meet for the second time

The second meeting of the project ‘The value of the Charter in identifying sustainable tourism destinations’ was generously hosted by project partner Scarpe-Escaut Regional Park (FR). In addition to the meeting Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Director also had the privilege of re-awarding the regional park their Charter certificate and celebrating this great achievement with them.

This project generously supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN) (DE) is seeking to examine the benefits the Charter for Sustainable Tourism brings to destinations.  Working together on this project are the well established Charter parks Alpi Marittime (IT), Scarpe Escault Regional Park (FR), Syöte National Park (FI), Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Northern Ireland, UK) and the Sierra Nevada National and Nature Park under the auspices of the Junta Andalucia (ES). In addition, the project benefits from the expertise of EUROPARC Consulting, Barbara Engels from BfN and Paulo Castro from EUROPARC’s Sustainable Tourism Working Group.

The Sustainable Tourism Destination project is seeking to examine evidence of the benefits working with the European Charter brings to regions and destinations. It recognises that tourism in protected areas relies upon the ecosystem services that area provides and realises that the Charter is a good method to bring people together to work for the protection of these services. The project also aims to ensure the Charter remains “fit for that purpose” analysing and comparing the criteria and updating them accordingly.

Six of the project partners including EUROPARC staff met in Scarpe-Escaut to discuss what the project has achieved so far and the next steps for the year ahead. The project has already undertaken an analysis and comparison of the criteria being proposed by the European Commission for sustainable tourism destinations against the Charter criteria. EUROPARC will now gather relevant data from all Charter parks to clearly show the extent of the sustainability of their work and influence across Europe. We will be contacting all Charter parks shortly with a questionnaire for this and would be very grateful to them for their support and time in filling it out.

Further, in order to ensure the Charter methodology remains current a review, particularly of the re-evaluation process of Charter parks will be undertaken during the Sustainable Tourism Destination project. This will take into consideration the recommendation from the comparison of the European Commission’s sustainable tourism destinations criteria.  This will result in a new version of the evaluation process, taking on board lessons learned through this and other projects. In turn, this will ensure that the Charter remains a useful and valuable tool in delivering sustainable tourism in protected areas.

Finally the project will gather good practice examples evaluated over the past 10 years of the Charter and disseminate these widely. We look forward to sending you the results of all of this research when they are ready.

Many thanks go again to the Scarpe-Escaut Regional Park for hosting the meeting and of course to the other project partners for their expertise and support.

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