The congress had some very interesting insights. There was a great presentation from Gordon Sillence and Travelife on sustainable and Ecotourism labels. More than 120 labels exist and the Destinet is trying to shed light into this jungle. We heard about a brand new transboundary Ecotourism Skiresort, about the treehouse project basoasuites.com and about a brand new ecotourism guide concept along a river through a highly protected river National Park. We were presented the ecotourism strategy of Spain, the public awareness campaign for 2014. We talked a lot about the definition of ecotourism and the problems with the many interpretations.

We also heard about ecotourism offerings by Geologists, bird watchers, old smugglers and regional product producers. Local products played a role in almost every presentation.

We discussed many projects and the importance of planning sustainable rural projects correctly. The role of local ownership and the multistakeholder role was emphasized. Interesting for me was the little focus on EU funding or government grants. Most projects stressed that the key success factor was the local ownership and local financing.

It is a pleasure to see, that there are so many projects based on a Ecotourism definition close to the one promoted by the European wilderness society. The main outcome of the congress was that the Spanish and international tourism sector needs to focus more on sustainability to replace the declining mass tourism industry.

 

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Max A. E. Rossberg is an avid WIlderness Advocates with extensive experience in Sustainable Tourism Strategies and Multistakeholder planning processes.

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