National Parks of France (PNF)
The Law of 14 April 2006 led to the establishment of the public sector enterprise « National Parks of France », a national public enterprise of an administrative nature under the supervision of the Minister for the Protection of the Environment.
The purpose of « National Parks of France » is to create a link between the public enterprises of the national parks, reinforce their common culture, contribute to the quality of their management, and promote them on national and international levels. The 10 national parks grouped within « National Parks of France », are part of the cultural identity of the nation just like the most prestigious cultural facilities. They represent a very strong symbolic value to the public. In 2013 there are ten national parks: Vanoise (1963), Port-Cros (1963), Pyrénées (1967), Cévennes (1970), Ecrins (1973), Mercantour (1979), Guadeloupe (1989), Réunion Island (2007), French Guiana (2007), Calanques (2012).
They are internationally recognized as exceptional territories and offer a combination of remarkable terrestrial and maritime areas as well as a method of governance and management that enables them to conserve their richness.
The national parks cover various terrestrial and maritime domains that represent approximately 9, 5% of the French territory (60,728 km²). Every year they attract more than 8.5 million visitors.
Sustainable tourism strategy:
The network of 10 French National Parks, under the coordination of the public institution National Parks of France organizes its thinking around four operational priorities:
- The implementation of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas
- Monitoring attendance and flow of visitors to national parks. This work, undertaken since the early 1990s, is based on the development of common protocols and conducting quantitative and qualitative surveys of visitors. It complements the work of identification and characterization of the tourist experience within National Parks and allows the production of goals and targets.
- Identification of ecotourism experience through mobilization of various support systems: part 2 of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism National Parks signatories, or the brand "National Park" in relation to other existing brands tourism (European Ecolabel, green Key, lodges Panda, ...)
- Welcoming and allowing public access to nature discovery through the development of infrastructure (trails, parks houses, mountain huts, ...) and tools (brochures, audio-guides, kiosks, films audio , ...) including adaptation of facilities for disabled individuals (motor, visual, hearing and mental).
The ESCT is a priority challenge of the Europarc French section, whose members are French national (10) and regional parks (48). In December 2013: 26 parks were signatories of ESCT and 4 parks are candidates. Today the French section tests the methodology part 3 of CETD dedicated to tour operators that were developed in consultation with the Europarc Federation.