Hot from Rome: sustainable tourism is good for business, for protected areas, for Europe writes Julia Shoenharl
Despite the blue sky and 32°C, eight people sat for many hours round the conference table at the offices of the EUROPARC Federation Italian Section, Federparchi. At stake were the important decisions about which of the many applicants for the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, should be awarded or re-awarded this important title. The results were really good: all of them had achieved the high standard required to be called a Charter area.
EUROPARC Consulting is proud to be so closely associated with the European Charter. The idea of the Charter was conceived after a truly remarkable seminar called "Loving them to death", nearly 20 years ago. The first Charters were awarded in 2001 since when both the Charter and its "journey" process have been a resounding success. To be a "chartered" protected area is to be part of a journey of development, a continuous quest for successful, sustainable sharing of these magical landscapes.
Carefully built from the ground up, after much shared thinking, the European Charter is an unrivalled process to help implement the concept of sustainable development in Europe’s most treasured places.
When all of this year’s new Charter areas have been added there will be over 100 protected areas in Europe that can proudly call themselves "Charter areas". A real reason to celebrate the 100th Charter area later this year.
There is also, of course, the Charter part II which has had a brilliant start in 2007. It helps create close partnerships between a protected area and local tourism businesses. Many of these local enterprises are so proud of their partnership with the protected area that they display prominently signs of the partnership in their restaurant or shop windows, on hotel doors and local products.
Defined as "development that meets the needs of present generations, without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their needs", sustainability involves the preservation of resources for future generations, viable economic development and equitable social development.
In order to promote the Charter and its aim of sustainable tourism, EUROPARC Consulting carries out every year the evaluation and verification of all the applications for European Charter status. We start in early January with an assessment of the application dossier and appoint a trained sustainable-tourism expert who travels to the area in order to verify the protected area’s claims. The resulting thorough report is then submitted to the Charter’s Evaluation Committee in June each year. You can see the Committee in session on one of the photographs here.
After careful consideration, the Committee then awards the Charter (or not) and the successful protected area will receive a certificate at the annual EUROPARC Conference which this year will take place in Genk, Belgium.
So far this year, EUROPARC Consulting has processed 33 applications for evaluation and re evaluation and presented the reports to the meeting of the Evaluation Committee in Rome last week.
As always, it was a demanding process, but rewarding nevertheless. EUROPARC Consulting is looking forward to seeing the certificates, signed by the President of the EUROPARC Federation, being handed over in Genk, Belgium, later this year. Our congratulations to all protected areas who had the Charter awarded or re awarded to them.
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