Message on sustainable tourism at 4th Congress on Biosphere Reserves
Michael Meyer (ETE/EWS) chaired interesting Sustainable Tourism Workshop
Stakeholders at the 4th Congress for Biosphere Reserves on 17th March in Lima / Peru call for “More Action on sustainable tourism, but let’s not reinvent the wheel”.
About 100 participants from all regions of the world attended the tourism workshop and gave life to a very vivid discussion based on inputs provided by selected presenters who introduced the main issues for debate. Michael Meyer (Ecological Tourism in Europe / European Wilderness Society) chaired this workshop, Philippe Pypaert (UNESCO-BRESCE) was the rapporteur.
The two key messages of the tourism workshop are:
- Sustainable Tourism has the potential to be a driving force for the development of the entire Biosphere Reserve (BR), and beyond their borders for cooperation at the regional or even global level, sustaining communities and the maintenance of ecosystem services, thus contributing to the achievement of SDGs. All this calls for integrated and inclusive BR management approaches considering, since their initial planning, the importance of territorial marketing and destination management, as well as integrated monitoring.
- Let’s avoid reinventing the wheel: there are already many available certification schemes, methodologies and guidelines for Sustainable Tourism Development (STD), to which we are free to refer. Let’s use them and concentrate our energies on the integration of STD in the management of BRs themselves, to make sure all sectors of territorial development are involved, and to assure that the rights and interests of local communities are respected.
Furthermore the participants of the workshop expressed:
- There is a need to continue working more systematically on similar issues throughout the network, and the participants expressed their interest in further exploring and developing the so-call “Biosphere Destination Initiative” aiming at providing a platform for promoting BRs as sustainable destinations worldwide and for their certification. This directly relates to and would contribute to the communication strategy and to strengthen the BRs brand.
- The urgent need for capacity building in STD was expressed by all participants. We agreed it would be beneficial to all to reinforce our cooperation with the WHC of UNESCO and with organizations like UNWTO, to implement joint information and training initiatives.
The European Wilderness Society and Ecological Tourism are showing a long term commitment to the World Network for Biosphere Reserves and its enhancement for better places for nature and people! ETE and EWS are also active in the Working Group of Sustainable Tourism of the Carpathian Convention.