Outcomes of the Sustainable Tourism Conference in Croatia

The three-day International Conference on Protected Areas and Sustainable Tourism that took place in Opatija, organised by the CEETO project partners with the special involvement of the partner World Organization for Nature Protection WWF Adria, analysed the influence of tourism sector in decision-making, related to the management of protected areas. The Conference participants concluded that

"we are all guests of nature and we should behave accordingly"

however, this is something seldom happening and that we need put in place – if we want to preserve the beautiful nature that surrounds us, in protected areas and Natura 2000 sites, and to ensure local communities benefit from such coexistence with nature.

“The tourism sector should recognise all the values of a particular protected area and, as a partner, participate in tourism management and in monitoring of the impact of tourism activities, especially visitation of the area,” said Andrea Štefan from WWF Adria while presenting the results of group work sessions with almost 80 participants of this conference that came from eight countries.

Improving Tourism in Protected Areas

Conference participants concluded that one way to keep track of whether tourism activities are sustainable is the use of existing European quality labels and methodologies in which natural values need to be integrated. The tourism sector representatives should be partners in new major topics such as climate change, but also participate in creating and ensuring financial resources for protected areas.

Protected areas should work with all stakeholders to achieve sustainability in their area. Stakeholders should also be allowed to participate in decision-making process which is impossible to achieve without support from the top level. This is the only way they can participate in the development of local economies, which is necessary for everyone“, concludes Štefan, adding that the goals of education and interpretation within protected areas can be achieved through the creation of tourist offers.

For that, it is fundamental that each protected area establishes a member of staff dedicated to tourism development, who knows how to establish and maintain a relationship with the local community. Building mutual trust takes time but the results can be very positive.

Presentations available for download:

22nd October

23rd October

Workshop Session 1 - For policy and decision makers

Workshop Session 2 - For Protected Areas and Tourism Practitioners

24th October