Re-Connecting Tourism: joint efforts for sustainable development and extraordinary experiences

3rd Community Building event 29 May 2018, Rome, Italy, by the MED Sustainable Tourism Community


The 18 Interreg MED-funded projects of the MED Sustainable Tourism Community gathered in Rome for a community building workshop on the 29 May 2018: “Re-Connecting Tourism: Joint efforts for sustainable development and extraordinary experiences”. This workshop paved the way for the international conference “Re-Connecting Tourism: Promoting evidence-based policies for sustainable development” that followed.

The main objective of the workshop was to examine the possibility of identifying common integrated actions in terms of produced tools and involved territories as implementation areas. These common tangible outputs are to be used for feeding the capitalisation purposes of the Community.

During three pre-defined workshops, adjusted on respective test-bed Med destinations, projects’ representatives had the opportunity to engage into an elaboration of actions for empowering responsibility and sustainability in tourism planning. The workshop could be seen as a simulation process in which projects integrated their individual tools and preliminary outcomes towards the confrontation of the challenges observed on each of the test-bed Med destinations.

The workshop resulted in three integrated strategies for tourism development. The contribution of projects’ outputs on the needs and the challenges of each test-bed destination was discussed and defined. Furthermore, the applicability of outputs was analysed on the basis of critical factors such as the cost, the time frame, the stakeholders’ engagement levels and the risks of their implementation and adaptation on destinations of the whole Mediterranean area. The thematic focus of the three working groups is described below.

The challenge our Community is collectively taking on is how to keep providing visitors with extraordinary experiences, which of course do not spoil the environmental and cultural heritage and which are also economically and socially sustainable for local populations. After one year and a half of activity the 18 projects gathered to share the results achieved and to join forces to promote sustainable development by developing an alternative tourism model based on more effective impact monitoring protocols and inclusive policy making processes. To facilitate productive exchanges and to facilitate synergies the community was divided into three working groups.

  1. “Towards the improvement of tourism management practices at a local destination level”. Focused on Community outputs implemented at the local destination level to confront management issues such as waste, water, litter and in general conservation and restoration of coastal and maritime local destinations. The outputs’ main purpose emerging from this working group was to monitor, measure and set criteria and standards in order to understand the needs for tourism development.
  2. “Towards the consolidation of new sustainable tourism development models at the local destination level”. Focused on outputs implemented at the local level to further assist destinations in getting the most benefits out of tourism while respecting the local sociocultural and natural environment. The main tools of this working group focused on the development of new and innovative tourism products, the provision of new experiences to visitors, the establishment of collaboration channels among actors of tourism and policy makers and the creation of added value through tourism related services.
  3. “Development of strategies to facilitate a balanced tourism development”. Aimed at facilitating the integration of tools to balance the effects of tourism development by taking into account carrying capacity issues and expanding the focus of tourism development beyond the local destination level. The outputs under discussion promote a more horizontal approach of tourism development across types of tourism, across local destinations, across temporal implications, etc.

Created in November 2016 within the framework of the Interreg MED Programme, the MED Sustainable Tourism Community gathers 18 territorial cooperation projects co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and almost 200 organisations (public authorities, private companies, universities, NGOs and international organisations) active in twelve European-Mediterranean coastal areas.

Most notably, the Community’s members are leading the development of common tools to monitor the tourism industry, they are studying and testing new tourism models and they are actively engaging policy makers and managers in a constant dialogue to make tourism a real driver for sustainable development. The BleuTourMed is an Interreg MED project featuring the MED Sustainable Tourism Community and is coordinated by Arco Latino, a network of local public authorities based in Barcelona, in partnership with UNIMED - Mediterranean Universities Union (Rome), University of Panteion (Athens), Plan Bleu for the environment and development in the Mediterranean (Marseille), Barcelona Provincial Council (Barcelona) and Adriatic and Ionian Euroregion (Pula).

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