Horizon 2020 challenges the current tourism development trends in the Mediterranean and promotes sustainable tourism and ecotourism practices

on 27 May 2013.

Coastal and maritime tourism has been identified as one of the five Blue Growth priority areas that could deliver sustainable growth and jobs and contribute to the emergence of European and Mediterranean countries from the economic crisis. Addressing the need for boosting ‘Smart socio-economic growth' in the region and developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation, a three-day intensive training was organized in Valletta, Malta, from 20-22 May 2013 within the frameworks of ENPI Horizon 2020 Capacity Building/Mediterranean Environment Programme and the European Maritime Day.

The training provided trainees a holistic approach on the issue of sustainable tourism and ecotourism in the Mediterranean and covered an array of opportunities and challenges relevant to the concept of ‘Blue Growth’. Furthermore, through different case studies it demonstrated the region’s full potential for growth and jobs from the tourism sector, while identifying key considerations to be taken into account to ensure a truly sustainable blue economy in the region.

Trainees’ understanding of the opportunities offered but also the threats posed by 'sustainable' tourism and ecotourism development in the Mediterranean region was enhanced and their skills to boost/promote sustainable growth and jobs in a blue economy were developed. The course introduced participants to the implications of tourism and ecotourism development including environmental, economic and social aspects. It provided information on global, EU, Mediterranean and other policies/initiatives and outlined the main challenges related to science, policy and knowledge gaps. Their skills were enhanced with regards to sustainable management of seas and coasts including sustainable use of resources, adaptation to climate change, contingency plans, etc.
Furthermore during the session on national cases studies, participants shared experiences on successful sustainable tourism practices in their respective countries and necessary information was exchanged on replicable lessons at the national and local level. Part of the third day of the course took place at the European Maritime Day, where a side-event was held entitled “Tourism and Biodiversity: Opportunities and Threats”. The trainees thus benefitted from the experience of participating in this major European event.

The training brought together 56 representatives of relevant ministries, institutions and NGOs, interested in promoting sustainable tourism in their countries, namely Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia.

The training was organized by the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) with contributions from ACR+, CP/RAC and UNESCO-IHE.