Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism
MEET set a leading example for public-private partnerships working towards sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean region. The project (2013-2015) and its follow-up work focused on coordinated regional approach to transform ecotourism into a concrete alternative for development in and around protected areas across the Mediterranean Basin. MEET supported the creation of a series of public-private ‘local cluster’ partnerships between protected areas management authorities, local tour operators and service providers. In each protected area, the management authorities took a leadership role in the design, development and improvement of their own ecotourism packages, focused on inspiring transformative nature experiences and cultural exchange, while ensuring that conservation of natural-cultural features at each site remained their primary objective. At the end of the project, over 70% of surveyed people agreed that MEET contibuted to capacity building in the areas, developed more sustainable tourism, strengthened the role of PA in the territory and other benefits. The project contributes to sustainable and inclusive economic growth by creating a specific quality criteria for Ecotourism packages, ensuring economic benefits to local service providers. MEET focuses on tourism that protects regional heritage through integration of authentic cultural exchange and involves traditional way of life into ecotourism packages. Managers of the projct state that cooperation is better than competition and Eco-tourism is more than nature-based tourism, since Eco-tourism allows a visitor to “meet a territory”, where the relationship between man and land has created particular features along the centuries.