Thanks to the Interreg-MED-funded project DestiMED, Calanques National Park and Camargue Regional Nature Park have been able to measure and manage the Ecological Footprint of their ecotourism packages. Food has been found to be the highest contributor and primary component to adjust the ecological impact in the majority of packages.

Taking Global Footprint Network’s standardized accounting tool as a starting point, DestiMED project partners adapted the Ecological Footprint methodology to assess the environmental impact of pilot ecotourism packages. The application of this methodology has enabled 13 Mediterranean protected areas to assess and take concrete steps to manage the Ecological Footprint of their ecotourism packages by considering specific components such as meals, accommodations, transports, and activities. Results from the monitoring phase suggest that food and drinks have the strongest ecological impact, especially in those packages providing large quantities of fish and meat products.

“DestiMED’s Ecological Footprint methodology has helped both the protected areas and operators in Calanques National Park and Camargue Regional Nature Park understand where their tours are excelling and where there is room for improvement. Moreover, new and alternative business opportunities have been identified, which push us towards a more sustainable local development”, explains Marianne Lang, DestiMED’s national coordinator .

By making better-informed choices and promoting best practices for tourism and recreation, protected areas have managed to address the ecological impact of their packages while improving the quality of the services offered to tourists. 

Going forward, a free online tool will make the methodology applicable to all protected areas in the Mediterranean region that are willing to create and test their own ecotourism packages. The online tool can be found at this link: https://www.meetnetwork.org/calculator

Whereas this methodology continues to be refined, future applications of the DestiMED Ecological Footprint methodology will consider tourism destinations beyond protected areas as well as other typologies of tourism.

The Ecotourism Footprint Calculator will be launched in Rome on 22-23 October 2019, when the main outcomes of DestiMED project are presented at the projects final event in the presence of all partners: Lazio region
(leading partner), Federparchi association in Italy , MedPAN network in France, the National Agency for Protected Areas in Albania, WWF Adria in Croatia, WWF Mediterranean and IUCN Med.