Within the context of the Project Sustainable Economic Activities in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (SEA- Med) it is already clearly established that tourism plays an important socio economic role in the region and a considerable threat to habitats and species. To ensure a well-managed Marine Protected Area (MPA) that is equally able to maintain healthy ecosystems, while generating resources for the conservation of the MPAs and the communities dependence upon the services provided by the MPAs, it is important to clearly understand the dynamics of tourism in the region.
The objective of this project is to understand the role and financial potential of tourism to support the MPAs and surrounding local communities, the market dynamics and the label/certification/best practices environment, with the purpose to create a roadmap to link tourism providers and MPAs in support of MPA conservation and provide a sustainable alternatives to promote local economic growth.
The methodology combined desk research on the destinations and the tourism market place; interviews with representatives of the destinations of the project, authorities of other MPAs, as well as representatives from the tourism industry; questionnaires for certifications, MPAs, and tour operators. The report presents a general overview of the tourism market place, the relevant stakeholders, the destination analysis, and a certification landscape. This is followed by an analysis that leads to recommendations for the MPAs involved.
The main outcomes of this report reflect clearly a need and desire to build unique destinations that will service the growing trend of experiential travel. There is an urgent threat that dominates the fast development of tourism in coastal areas in the region and the preservation of pristine destinations and valuable marine echosystems will depend on the existence of Marine Protect Areas.
Picture By Alessandro57 – Self-photographed, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1269173