The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism
On 27th September 2008, in Brasov (Romania), at the annual conference of the EUROPARC Federation, the Mantuan Oltrepò Parks System became the fourth protected wilderness area in Italy to be granted the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.
Before us, only major parks such as the Monti Sibillini National Park, the Adamello Brenta National Park and the Alpi Marittime Regional Park were granted the Charter.
The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism is the obligatory benchmark of tourism policies for parks in the European Union; it is issued by EUROPARC Federation, an association of over 400 protected wilderness areas in 35 European countries.
The Charter rewards those organizations which define, and undertake to apply, a strategy of tourism development that “satisfies the current needs of tourists and of the regions hosting them, whilst at the same time protecting and improving prospects for the future through integrated management of all resources in such a way as to ensure that economic, social and aesthetic requirements can be met, whilst also safeguarding cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and living systems”.
The European Charter is founded on 10 principles:
- Working in Partnership: to engage all those involved in tourism in and around the protected wilderness area for its development and management;
- Strategic approach: to develop a strategy for sustainable tourism and an action plan for the protected wilderness area with shared responsibility of all the stakeholders involved;
- Protection and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage: to protect resources from excessive and high-impact tourism;
- Quality: to provide all visitors with a high quality experience in all aspects of their visit;
- Communication: to communicate effectively with visitors on the special qualities of the area;
- Specific local tourism products: encouraging a form of tourism linked with specific products that helps to discover and get to know the local area;
- Improving knowledge and training: to increase knowledge of the protected wilderness area and of sustainability issues among all those involved in tourism;
- Quality of life of local residents: to ensure that support for tourism does not have negative consequences on the quality of life of local communities;
- Benefits to the local economy: to increase the benefits from tourism to the local economy;
- Monitoring of visitor flows, reduction of negative impacts: to monitor visitor flows and influence them in such a way as to reduce negative impacts.
In order to be granted the Charter, the Parks System initiates a process of participatory planning every 5 years in which all the tourism stakeholders develop a European Charter for Sustainable Tourism Strategy and Plan of Action.
The EUROPARC Federation applies a strict procedure to assess whether the 10 principles of the Charter have been complied with and the feasibility of the proposed actions, and only then will it certify that the Strategy and Plan of Action are satisfactory and renew membership of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism for a 5-year period.