The Mediterranean is a biodiversity hotspot as well as extremely vulnerable to climate change; its coastline is increasingly susceptible to the multiple impacts of over tourism while projections estimate the arrival of 300 million tourists to the region by 2030. The DestiMED Plus project will work with regional administrations for the integration of tourism and conservation agendas in nine coastal Protected Areas of the Mediterranean region with the aim of establishing a Mediterranean wide Ecotourism Consortium (MEC), as a foundation for future large-scale planning and policy frameworks which support sustainable tourism activities in Protected Areas across the Mediterranean.

The kick-off meeting (Málaga, Spain, 29-30 January 2020) will bring together the fourteen partner institutions, nine of which are regional administrations and members of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR). The purpose of the meeting is to plan and agree on the methodological approach for the project, as well as establish a calendar of events and activities for the duration of the project.

DestiMED Plus, co-funded by the Interreg Med program and led by Lazio Region, is the next step on an already successful journey to promote integrated planning in Mediterranean coastal tourism, specifically focusing on Protected Areas.

The over tourism issue is accentuated due to fragmented governance across the region, where tourism and environmental agendas are rarely aligned, leaving the few remaining natural areas across the Mediterranean coastal region more and more vulnerable. The objective of DestiMED Plus, which builds on the successes of the previous MEET and DestiMED projects is to improve levels of integration between regional tourism and conservation policies in Mediterranean protected areas by putting in practice an integrated approach for the joint creation of ecotourism itineraries.

Participating protected areas and the local tourism sector will test DestiMED Plus approach in nine pilot actions across the Mediterranean, representing the nine administrations partners of the initiative: Andalucia, Catalonia, Sardinia, Crete, Corsica, Lazio, South Aegean, Croatia and Albania. Pilot actions will be implemented for the development of nine unique, protected area based, ecotourism itineraries which are aligned with the DestiMED Plus standard.

The sustainability impact of all ecotourism itineraries will be assessed by expanding the DestiMED ́s Ecological Footprint approach and integrating it with a specific methodology for measuring socio-economic and governance indicators.

In addition to regional administrations, the project partnership is completed by organizations experienced in conservation and tourism, including, IUCN Med, WWF Med, Vic University, the Institute of Tourism in Croatia and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Region (CPMR). The CPMR, through its Intermediterranean Commission and Islands Commission, will coordinate the capitalisation activities, ensuring that results reach out territories beyond the project’s geographical scope, and have an impact beyond the project’s lifetime.

Thirteen project associates from the Mediterranean region and beyond, including Morocco, Tunisia and USA, will be supporting and providing input to the development of the project as well as support the adoption and dissemination of project results.

By the end of the project, the goal will be the setup of a Mediterranean Ecotourism Consortium (MEC) at regional scale, which will apply an integrated approach to ecotourism policy development, merging conservation, sustainability, and economic perspectives whilst also, advocating for further involvement of ecosystem-based planning processes.

Throughout the project and beyond, the consortium will closely cooperate with MEET, a network representing the interests and needs of the Mediterranean protected area ecotourism community.

For more information about DestiMED Plus please contact Emmanuel Maniscalco at emmanuel.maniscalco@crpm.org