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Catalonia Natural Parks MEET, a real experience of sustainable tourism
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As part of the Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism Project (M.E.E.T.) E.U.-funded project, the Generalitat de Catalonia (Government of Catalonia), in cooperation with the local tour-operator Tarannà, has conceived an eco-tourist product passing through 3 of their natural parks: Cap de Creus Natural Park, Aiguamolls de Emporda (Emporda's Wetlands) Natural Park and Montgri, Illes Medes and Baix de Ter Natural Park.
I had the opportunity, with some persons in charge of the product creation, managers from other Protected Areas (one from Dune Costiere Natural Park in Italy, one from Samaria National Park in Crete, Greece, and another one from Ichkeul National Park in Tunisia), and heads of tourism in Albania to participate on the test phase of the Catalonia Natural Parks tour. This has been held 6 days and 5 nights from Monday, 20th to Saturday 25th October 2013.
As expect by the objectives of the MEET project, this product really knew to put forward the cultural and natural heritage of this region along with social and economic local development.
More than the simple discovery of the formerly mentioned protected areas, we have been able to visit main cultural local sites such as: Dali Museum in Figueres, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, the house of Salvador Dali in Port Lligat, a historical guided-tour in the old town and church of Cadaqués, the Castle of Montgri dating from the XIII century, and the antique ruins of Empuries and Ullastret.
In the framework of the implication of locals and the concern about sustainability of the various participants in the tour, we had the possibility to visit and taste wines of a family-owned vineyard and winery within the heart of Cap de Creus natural park, to see the vegetable garden and kitchen and the cooks actually preparing our dinner in front of our own eyes in Hostal Empuries & Spa and interview the managers of the four-star hotel Moli del Mig about the restoration of an old mill for the settlement of their establishment and their cycle-tourism centred policy.
Besides, I have to admit that I have, personally, found the journey between Torroella de Montgri and Estartit and the cruise between Montgri and Illes Medes (islands of Medes) on the last day a "must".
At last, I really appreciate the extremely high-quality of the meals that have been served all along the trip and the special care, that has been made, to mainly served locally grown and provided food. The menu made especially for us with products of the 3 different parks (olive oil included, of course…) was a perfect end for this amazing culinary tour.
So much to do in so a short stay was, for me, a bit exhausting. But for a student in Master of Management of Sustainable Tourism like me, this was really an amazing experience and I learned a lot in my field. For that, I am deeply grateful to all the members of MEET network for giving me such a chance and it is important to me to thank them for this.
Adrien LEVY, Port-Cros National Park, France