Hybrid event organised in Rome and online to reflect on the work done in the framework of this InterregMED project.
Rome and online, 20th and 21st of June 2022
DestiMED Plus organised a series of hybrid meetings in Rome and online to celebrate the recent conclusion of the project on the 30th of June.
Given the impending conclusion of the project, this two-day event was the perfect opportunity to discuss the main outcomes achieved in almost three years of work while celebrating the end of the project. Several topics were included in the agenda, all in the framework of proposing an alternative and sustainable option to mass tourism in Mediterranean destinations. The aim is to capitalise the natural resources present in this unique area by means of responsible tourism practices and highlight the benefits that can be obtained if tourism activities are developed in synergy with conservation efforts.
Using this concept as a core pillar, DestiMED PLUS project has been working to improve the levels of integration between tourism and conservation policies by supporting the creation of ecotourism experiences in Mediterranean protected areas. These unique products are designed and developed using a collaborative approach, both locally and regionally, by promoting the creation of Local Ecotourism Clusters. Besides this, the main outcome of the project has been the creation of the Mediterranean Ecotourism Consortium (MEC), which allows regional —or even national— authorities to advocate for integrated ecotourism policies at Mediterranean scale and exchange best tourism practices, including the MEET ecotourism model implemented by DestiMED PLUS project.
This hybrid event was organised with the twofold objective of holding both internal private meetings of project partnership and the MEET Network and public sessions to discuss and share the main outcomes of DestiMED PLUS, as well as BEST MED, InterregMED projects.
On the afternoon 20th of June, the restricted sessions took place with the aim of holding the last internal meeting of the project. This opportunity was also used to present the MEET Network to DestiMED PLUS pilot actions, as well as to discuss pending issues of the association, future opportunities and project proposals.
On the 21st of June, the public sessions included InterregMED programme BEST MED and DestiMED PLUS policy conference, in addition to the open-to-the-public final event of the latter. During the joint event of the two projects, it was possible to reflect on the application and governance of the Mediterranean Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (NSTO), as well as on the approval of a Mediterranean Ecotourism Policy Roadmap by public authorities.This meeting left some interesting observations about the necessity to support local institutions in transforming the information they have into practical policy implications as well as working with them for the integration of the conservation into tourism policies. In order to achieve this, private-public cooperation and intersectoral governance are essential.
There are a lot of initiatives working on tourism and on conservation; but there is not intersectoral governance between these two elements. The MEC intends to feel in this gap - F. Leroy, CPMR IMC
We have seen globally that destinations are leading the transformation of the tourism sector. To that end, we have to ask for a wider focus of observatories, not only on tourism, but on sustainable management of the territory as well. Citizens and challenges in space must be connected with policy making to support cooperation and our objectives - Dirk Glaesser, Director of Sustainable Development of Tourism at World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
Finally, DestiMED PLUS had the opportunity to conclude its work by sharing the main achievements it has been carrying out during these years. The event was organised in a participatory way by involving the pilot destinations of the project, to share their concrete experiences. Representatives from Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, Divjakë-Karavasta National Park, Ventotene and Santo Stefano State Reserve and Marine Protected Area, Porto Conte Regional Park and Western Asterousia Protected Area presented their ecotourism experiences and shared their main key messages on the lesson learned throughout the implementation of the DestiMED PLUS project.
At the very beginning, we thought the highlight of the package was nature. After the first test, we understood that we were missing people. Now tourists are amazed to meet the local people and they see Cabo de Gata with different eyes - Gloria from Cabo de Gata
In addition to this, the tools created in the framework of the project with the aim of easing ecotourism development were presented, such as the online monitoring platform. The session continued with the introduction of the main communication outcomes achieved, reporting the inclusion of DestiMED Plus project in important documents issued by the World Bank, the European Travel Commission or the United Nations, as well as the nomination in Natura 2000 Award for the 2022 edition.
Moreover, a specific attention was then paid to the upscale – to regional administrations level – the project started to do. Indeed, the main objective of the Mediterranean Ecotourism Consortium (MEC) is to support the policy and governance suitable conditions so that the ecotourism model, developed in DestiMED PLUS and operated by MEET Network, can be adopted and scaled-up by each member of the MEC, and hopefully by most of the Mediterranean regions.
Finally, the meeting concluded with an active discussion held by a heterogeneous round table that brought together different representatives of the private and public sector (T.Guillot - NECSTouR Network; S.Melkić - Institut for Tourism Croatia; E.Dens - The Travel Foundation; K.Svazinger - Intrepid Travel Tour Operator; M.Zovko - Ministry of Tourism and Sport Croatia; J.Rodriguez - Barcelona regional council and Sustainable Tourism Community of Interreg Med representative) with the aim of reflecting on the barriers and opportunities for ecotourism in the Mediterranean basin. Many interesting observations emerged, all highlighting the necessity of radically rethinking tourism and strengthening private-public cooperation and communication.
Besides all these important points, DestiMED Plus is really pleased to have been able to achieve great outcomes by actively working with local private and public representatives, which has led to the creation of successful synergies in Mediterranean protected areas.
About DestiMED Plus and MEET Network
DestiMED PLUS is a cross-border co-operative ecotourism project funded by the European Union (in the framework of the InterregMED Programme), and is currently in its final days of activities. DestiMED PLUS supports the MEET Network, an independent organisation that aims to develop high-quality ecotourism experiences that benefit conservation and local communities in Mediterranean protected areas. In the framework of this project, sustainable tourism packages were created following a participative approach to involve and benefit local communities in 9 protected areas across several Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Albania and Greece).