WWF co-hosted a discussion about the Carpathian Sustainable Tourism Strategy
More than 30 stakeholders from the business sector, protected area administrations, tour operators, NGOs and universities from all over Europe found out the outcomes from the four workshops that aims to help draft a Sustainable Tourism Strategy for the Carpathians.
Participants agreed on the need of destination management organization for the implementation of the strategy, marketing and promotion should be done at Carpathian level with no promotion of single countries. Critical mass of initiatives is needed at the destination (the bottom-up approach) and the conservation of cultural landscapes should be integrated into sustainable destination management.
The discussion showed that there is a commitment from the business sector to support the implementation of the strategy and to make it a business-driven initiative
The strategy is being developed under the umbrella of the Carpathian Convention and may be found here. Project partners are Ecological Tourism in Europe (E.T.E.), CeeWEB, UNEP Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention and WWF.
By mid-November the experts will elaborate the next draft of the strategy. It will then be consulted among all stakeholders in the Carpathians, including the governments. In February there should be an agreement of the final draft to be presented at the next Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee Meeting. At the International Tourism Fair in Berlin in March 2014 meetings with National Tourism Offices will be organized to lobby for support of the strategy.
During the 2nd European Ecotourism Conference WWF also presented its Danube PES project which promotes payments for environmental services and sustainable financing schemes for several areas including Maramures in Northern Romania on the border with the Ukraine.
Among the issues affecting the area are the abandonment of traditional agricultural practices with negative impact on the landscape mosaic and natural diversity and of traditional architecture and construction of wood, with a negative impact on rural landscapes and identity of the area. The inappropriate behaviour of tourists and waste was also mentioned. The lack of public funds for the conservation of protected areas increases the risk of degradation of nature.
The protocol on sustainable tourism
In 2011, a protocol on sustainable tourism was adopted by the conference of the seven parties to the Carpathian Convention, which provided a legally binding framework for the development of sustainable tourism in the Carpathians.
To assure the implementation of the protocol, a special project - “Development of a Sustainable Tourism Strategy for the Carpathians” (CarpatSusTourStrat) - seeks to elaborate the strategy for the Carpathians in coordination with all relevant stakeholders. The project is managed by Ecological Tourism in Europe (E.T.E.) with the support of WWF, CEEweb for Biodiversity, the Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention and the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas.
Over the course of the project, various meetings with stakeholders are being organized – at a national, regional and local level, including state, non-governmental and private stakeholders - to reflect their opinions and needs in the strategy.
The first meeting with NGOs from the Carpathians took place on 12-15 June 2013 in Slovakia, where the first draft of the strategy was up for discussion.
On 21-22 October 2013 4th Carpathian Convention Working Group on Sustainable Tourism Meeting, organized by UNEP took place prior to the 2nd EEC to agree on the vision, objectives and outcomes of the strategy to be sent to the experts compiling a new draft until mid-November 2013. The participants were official representatives of the governments and observers (NGOs and interested institutions). The strategy is here.
Additionally, 14 sustainable tourism development initiatives will be compiled and the process of the elaboration of the strategy will be documented. This will potentially serve as a model for other regions where there are attempts to develop such a tourism strategy.
The project runs until November 2014 and is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety.
The Carpathian Convention
The Carpathian Convention with the Interim Secretariat, based at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - Vienna, aims to protect and sustainably develop the Carpathians by improving the quality of life, strengthening local economies and communities, and the conservation of natural values and cultural heritage.
The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (Carpathian Convention) was adopted and signed by the seven Parties (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine) in May 2003 in Kyiv, Ukraine, and entered into force in January 2006. It is the only multi-level governance mechanism covering the whole of the Carpathian area and, besides the Alpine Convention, the second sub-regional treaty-based regime for the protection and sustainable development of a mountain region worldwide.
WWF has been an important player in the development of the Carpathian Convention from the very beginning and seeks to support the implementation of the convention through various projects related to nature conservation and regional development.