Involving Local Tour Operators for Collaborative Ecotourism Product Development

The DestiMED PLUS Training for Pilot Actions on Ecotourism Product Development ran between July and September 2020.

Between July and September 2020 DestiMED PLUS delivered the second of three modules to train the 9 project pilot actions in the project. The module was delivered to 38 trainees and  focused on ecotourism product development following the MEET Network approach, which is tailored for Mediterranean Protected Area Destinations. to ecotourism development.

The training was delivered  online and used a mix of tools (Google Classroom, webinars in Zoom and self-paced learning through the Conservation Training). It was organised by IUCN Med and included guest speakers from GreenSpot Travel who provided expertise on itinerary design and Elton Caushi from Albanian Trip who shared his lessons learned from the DestiMED project (2016 - 2019).

A key part of the Local Ecotourism Clusters (LECs) which were established as a result of the first module  are the local tour operators (ITO -, Inbound Tour Operator) who work alongside the protected areas and other local stakeholders to develop the ecotourism product, design the itinerary and manage of the product development process. Under the MEET approach, product development means the design of a multi-day package tour which centres around a Protected Area. These packages have high sustainability and quality standards, they are designed to ensure a positive contribution to conservation and to the hosting communities, as well as be market orientated, which if often a pitfall in this type of ecotourism development. 

The ITOs working together with DestiMED PLUS Protected Area Destination include a diverse range of operators, from well established ecotourism businesses and mainstream DMCs looking into new segments, to specialized or adventure operators. The ITOs in the project include: Albanian Trip (Divjaka-Karavasta, Albania), Trescalia (La Garrotxa, Catalonia), Astro Andalus (Cabo de Gata, Andalusia), Office Municipal de Tourisme de Bonifacio (Bouches de Bonifacio, Corsica), Asl Agency (Losinj Island, Croatia), Karpathos Travel (Karpathos Island, South Aegean),  , Cretan Adventures (Western Asterousia, Krete)  and Biking Sardinia (Porto Conte - Sardinia).

The range of ITOs involved in the project highlights the adaptable nature of MEET Network approach to ecotourism development and is an excellent example of how DestiMED PLUS is bringing together the public and private sector to work towards a common goal - the ecotourism product.

This module  came to an end on the 8th of September with a final webinar where each pilot action presented a draft design of their ecotourism product. Following this, each pilot action received  support from ecotourism experts at GreenSpot Travel to ensure the alignment of their products with the expectations of the MEET European-based target market. Thanks to the training, pilot actions in the project have now new ecotourism products that will be thoroughly assessed against the MEET standard.  

The final module of the DestiMED PLUS training programme is due to start in mid-October and will be more technical, focusing on  the MEET standard for ecotourism products, indicators and data collection.

For further updates on the training make sure you are following our #DESTIMEDPLUS updates on MEET Network social media channels!