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Natura 2000 Award - Promoting ecotourism in Mediterranean protected areas

About the project

Main applicant



Socio-economic benefits

Countries involved

Italy, France, Croatia, Greece, Spain, Albania

Main N2000 site

Iles Lavezzi, Bouches de Bonifacio  (FR9410021)


The Mediterranean is the world’s favourite tourist destination. However, its popularity has a huge negative impact on the region’s natural heritage. Ecotourism offers a promising, low-impact alternative to mass tourism as it respects the resources of protected areas as well as the well-being of the people living in and around them, whilst also providing incentives for conservation.

In order to promote ecotourism as a viable alternative in protected areas, three Interreg projects (Meet, DestiMED and DestiMED PLUS) have developed, tested and fine-tuned a set of criteria and indicators to manage the quality and sustainability of ecotourism products and services. They cover the assessment of suppliers in terms of local ownership, fair and equal employment, the quality and sustainability of the products in socio-economic and environmental terms, and the quality of guest experiences. These criteria and indicators are collectively called the “Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism (MEET) Standard for Ecotourism product development”, which was adopted by the MEET Network of Protected Areas.

Implemented by the DestiMED Plus project with partners from Italy, Spain, France and Croatia and including international organisations, ecotourism packages have been developed for nine protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites Cres-Lošinj (Croatia); Iles Lavezzi, Bouches de Bonifacio (Corsica); Dytika Asterousia (Crete); North Karpathos & Saria Islands (Greece); Cabo De Gata-Níjar (Andalusia); Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa (Catalonia); and the Ponziane Archipelago (Italy).

To enhance multi-level dialogue on ecotourism and maximise local socio-economic benefits, Local Ecotourism Clusters, a Regional Ecotourism Consortium, and the Mediterranean Ecotourism Consortium are also being set up. So far, as part of the development of the packages, about 100 service providers have improved the sustainability of their services.