Sustainable marine tourism

WWF's Global Marine Programme is engaging with the tourism industry, to advance and demonstrate best practice and policy on conservation and social issues.

Promoting best practice in the tourism industry

WWF has a long history of working with small-scale ecotourism and nature-focused tour operators.

We are now engaging with the large-scale tourism industry, at both policy and project levels. Our aim is to advance and demonstrate best practice and policy on conservation and social issues.

We believe that strong alliances between conservationists and responsible tour operators and planners will safeguard the long-term economic development of tourism and preserve the coastal and marine areas on which the industry depends.

Our  work involves:
 / ©: Jürgen Freund/WWF
Whale shark swimming with divers
© Jürgen Freund/WWF

What's the problem?

Responsible tourism can be a positive force for sustainable development, environmental protection, and awareness raising.

However, this enormous and fast-growing industry is currently responsible for a number of serious environmental and social problems, with devastating results in some parts of the world. Find out more...

Croatia: showing the way to sustainable tourism

A joint project between WWF and the Tour Operators' Initiative (TOI) is being carried out on Lastovo Island, Croatia.

This tiny island is part of the Dalmatian Islands, the southern group of the more than 1,000 islands that stretch down Croatia’s coast. Closed to the outside world for much of the last 50 years, the islands are relatively untouched by mass tourism and coastal development. They form one of the largest contiguous stretches of pristine nature in the entire Mediterranean, with well-preserved biodiversity.

However, the unspoilt nature and empty beaches are becoming increasingly popular tourist destinations.

Although Croatia currently only receives a small fraction of tourists visiting the Mediterranean, the country is expected to be amongst the top three destinations by 2020.

The influx of visitors is a boon for the islands' economies, but many, including islanders, fear the islands will go the same way as many other parts of the Mediterranean coast - covered in concrete.

WWF has been working with local environmental organizations and communities towards sustainable tourism in the Dalmatian Islands since 2000. As part of the work, Lastovo Island was proposed as a Nature Park - a Marine Protected Area in which controlled tourism can be developed. 

The WWF-TOI project is providing input into the sustainable management plan for the Nature Park, and contributing to the development of the island through the identification and promotion of sustainable tourism activities.

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