For a sustainable, adapted and shared approach towards the selection of MEET project’s Pilot actions locations, the MEET ecotourism expert’s group defined the minimum standards each of the Pilots must respect to be considered as a candidate for the project’s activities.
It has been redacted to be and an easy-to-use reference for the MEET project partners and the concerned National Authorities to set up the process of Pilot Actions selection and contracting.
Agreed preconditions for any Protected Area to submit a Pilot Action proposal were that:
• The Pilot Actions must be implemented within a Protected Area, and shall be managed by the Protected Area management body (if existing) or by the competent National Institution.
• An eligible protected area must be located in a region eligible for ENPI-MED Programme and established with public Act which identifies an operative managing body
Common features for selection were also established as regards the management process of the Pilot Action and the characteristics of the ecotourism package.
As regards the management process, the criteria required the action having consistency with the conservation goals of the area, a clear adoption of a participatory approach at all levels and a direct benefit to local economy.
The ecotourism package requirements focused on one side on the general characteristics of the packages (length, typology of tourists, seasonality…) and on the other on the sustainability aspects the activities will have to take into consideration, as regards environment, economy and culture.
A set of additional country-based criteria was also established for the MEET project partners to better adapt the standard towards the relative country needs and situation, as supporting the implementation of an already ongoing ECTS process, in the case of EU Pilot areas for instance.
LLastly the Experts group detailed the procedures to be followed by the MEET project partners while selecting the Pilot Areas, tackling the three different situations that were found as regards project partner’s status towards PA management and national regulations, namely:

  •  The MEET partner does not manage any Protected Area, nor is the central public Institution responsible for them (Italy, France, Greece), and Protected Areas have their own Managing body;
  •  The MEET partner manages / is responsible for one or more Protected Areas (Spain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon);
  •  The MEET partner does not manage any Protected Area, nor is the central public Institution responsible for them (Malta, Cyprus, Tunisia), and Protected Areas are managed at central level

It was agreed, as well, that in order to assure the respect of the common standards each selected Protected Area would automatically become a member of the MEET Network.
For more information, you can find the full document at this link.
Click here to download the Pilot Action selection criteria

Ecotourism Planning Approach in the Mediterranean

To shed light on the crucial guidelines for ecotourism planning approach in the Mediterranean, the MEET ecotourism experts' group identified the existing prosperous approaches in ecotourism as the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria that specify the minimum requirements for any tourism business to protect and sustain the world's natural and cultural resources, the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST) in the Protected Areas that is used to ensure that tourism contributes to a balanced economic, social, and environmental development of protected areas covering 10 main principles, European Ecotourism Labeling Standard (EELS) – ECOLNET Project to create an Ecotourism network to bring together a variety of stakeholders and develop innovative evaluation tools and learning products, the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) that is an award offered by the European Commission to prize competitiveness and sustainability in tourism specifying certain requirements for participants.
Bearing in mind what have preceded, the experts group list the needed steps of an ecotourism planning approach for the Mediterranean and the actors involved as the policy makers, protected areas managing bodies, local communities, local economic actors and others. Then they identify in the plan the main elements for a participatory ecotourism planning process: the consistency with the existing policy, steering the process, involving the stakeholders, setting the principles, and agreeing on goals.
A good participatory planning process can be divided in several steps that are creating the forum, defining the roadmap of the forum activities and then implementing this roadmap.

For more information, you can find the full document at this link.