Investors must support development of sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean
Tourism has considerably contributed to the economic growth of most Mediterranean countries over the last decade, providing 5 million jobs and an income of more than US$100,000 million a year. The tourism industry brings about seven per cënt of the gross domestic product in the Mediterranean coastal strip.
However, the fast-growing demands of holiday-makers have also fostered uncontrolled building and mismanaged developments. With current development models based on quantity, tourism is damaging landscapes, causing soil erosion, putting pressure on endangered species, further straining available water resources, increasing waste and pollution discharges into the sea, and leading to cultural disruption.
For example, in Italy, over 43% of the coastline has been completely urbanised, mainly for tourism development. In Spain, an average Spanish city dweller uses approximately 250 litres of water per day, while the average tourist uses 440 litres.
“The Mediterranean is the leading tourist destination in the world. It is also one of the most important regions for its outstanding biodiversity and cultural features. If current trends don’t change, the impacts of tourism will be irreversible for the natural and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean,” said Paolo Guglielmi, Head of the Marine Unit at WWF ’s Mediterranean Programme Office.
WWF is urging tourism investors to carefully plan their future developments in the Mediterranean. Next May in Rome, WWF will invite investors such as banks, hotel companies, and tour-operators to assess the ecological sustainability of their tourism development projects and build rules for sustainable investments. A risk map of vulnerable environments in relation to tourism development will be presented. The aim is to agree on guidelines for sustainable tourism in ecologically vulnerable areas.
“The bad quality of the environment deeply affects the economic viability of the tourism industry. Tour operators may soon find themselves selling holidays in a dead swimming pool and badly affecting the livelihoods of millions of people,” added Paolo Guglielmi.
Tourism figures in the Mediterranean
• 220 million international tourists currently spend their holiday in the Mediterranean, a data expected to grow up to 350 million for 2020.
• 84% of the tourists are from Europe, mostly northern and western countries. Germany is the largest market followed by the UK, France, and Italy.
• Almost 80% of the Mediterranean tourists are received by Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.
• 1/3 of global tourism income is generated by the Mediterranean.
• 2/3 of the income from Mediterranean tourism is returned to the hands of less than 10 tour operators from northern Europe.
Data source: WTO - World Tourism Organization
A study by WWF has identified the most important coastal and marine areas for biodiversity in the Mediterranean. These areas are also threatened by mass tourism development.
• Alboran Coast (Spain and Morocco)
• Liguro-Provençal coast (France, Italy, Monaco)
• Corso-Sardinian coast (France, Italy)
• Southern Tyrrhenian coast (Italy)
• Dalmatian coast(Croatia)
• Eastern Ionian coast and islands (Albania, Greece)
• South-western Anatolian coast (Greece, Turkey)
• Cilician coast (Turkey) and Cyprus coast
For further information:
Communications Department, WWF Mediterranean
Tel: +39 06 844 97 417