Since 2004, 25 international observatories have been set up under the impulse of the UNWTO, leading to the creation of a network called International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO). The objective of INSTO is to support the continuous improvement of sustainability and resilience in the tourism sector and provide a clear picture of specific phenomena in the regions they are based in. The ones in the Mediterranean region are increasing in number and covering an increasingly diversified territory

(Rome, 24 May 2019) Measuring tourism sustainability is becoming utterly  relevant considering the impact that tourism has over the hosting destinations.

In the case of small scale projects, like the ones featured by the Interreg MED Programme, one of the main challenges faced results from the struggle to collect tourism-related data on a regular basis in order to assess the impacts of tourism. Even when implementing projects, planning strategies and pilot actions,a gap emerges  between the possibility to rely on data relating to several indicators and providing organic data on social, economic, geographic, and many other aspects that are related to tourism at local level.

In this context, from the UNWTO’s role and its impulse towards the creation of the network, meant to measure and monitor specific features of tourism sustainability, can result a potential tool to support destinations. Tourist cities need to advance towards a more holistic measurement approaches and create synergies and connections between them. For this matter, the INSTO network constitutes a platform to enhance the processes and measure sustainable tourism. Additionally, it provides a virtual space where they can meet and exchange experiences, compare practices, share ideas and discuss in order to foster more sustainable initiatives. The role of INSTO members is to support a systematic, timely and regular monitoring of touristic performances as well as checking its impact and foster its responsible management.

In the Mediterranean region, the projects belonging to the MED Sustainable Tourism Community can count on CROSTO (Croatia), the Navarre Tourism Observatory (Spain), the Eurac Research & IDM (Italy), ASTO (Portugal) and the Aegean Islands Sustainable Tourism Observatory (Greece). They are boosting the process of  setting concrete integrated approaches, systematising proceedings to monitor, evaluate and management of information techniques. The potential of counting on regionally measured data supports the territorial projects in acquiring consistent information and provides policy makers, planners, tourism managers and other relevant stakeholders with key tools to strengthen institutional capacities to support the formulation and implementation of sustainable tourism policies, strategies, plans and management processes.

The work of the  MED Sustainable Tourism Community is  of high relevance to reinforce the evidence-based knowledge over the thematic areas of INSTO network: seasonality, employment, economic benefits, governance, local satisfaction, energy management, water management, waste water (Sewage) management and solid waste management.

The goal could be for the MED Sustainable Tourism Community’s projects to give a contribution on the basis of to the data obtained during the pilot phases and the researches conducted over the first three years period. In a moment when the community of projects is rethinking its strategy, and looking for capitalizing and transferring the outcomes, the possibility to make visible the data obtained could be a first step.

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