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WWF and Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Development launches a partnership for the development of sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean.
The partnership between WWF and TOI will be first tested on the Croatian island of Lastovo, one of the last "jewels" in the Mediterranean that is almost untouched by tourism development.
WWF and its Croatian partner Sunce identified Lastovo as an area of high natural importance in the Mediterranean in need of urgent protection. WWF and TOI priorities are to assist national authorities and the local community in the establishment of Lastovo as a nature park and to provide inputs for its sustainable management plan. The two organizations will also explore opportunities for economic development through sustainable tourism.
“This is the first time ever in the Mediterranean that local people, conservationists and the tourism industry have agreed to work together for tourism that supports both the local economy and nature conservation," said Paolo Guglielmi, Head of WWF's Marine Unit in the Mediterranean.
"With the 350 million tourists expected to visit the Mediterranean by 2020, tourism and nature must find a way to coexist in harmony. If not, there wil be irreversible destruction to the region.”
Both WWF and TOI share concerns over the environmental effects of tourism in the Mediterranean and will focus their efforts and activities on supporting governments and authorities to improve conservation and the sustainable use of marine and coastal habitats. They will also work together to raise tourists’ awareness on marine issues.
”For development to be sustainable, there needs to be a balance between economy, ecology and society," said Tom Selanniemi, TOI Chairman and Director of Research and Development at Aurinkomatkat-Suntours.
"To protect people and places, we need a sound economic base, and sustainable tourism can provide that.”
• The Tour Operators’ Initiative (TOI), formed in March 2000, brings together outbound and inbound tour operators from different markets and of different sizes that have in common a firm commitment to integrate sustainability concerns into their business operations. The TOI is supported by the UN Environment Programme, UNESCO, and the World Tourism Organization. Members of the TOI include LTU Touristik, World of TUI, Aurinkomatkat, First Choice and others.
• The Island of Lastovo ranked very high in all scientific biological and socio-economic assessments and was proposed for protection as the first of a series of core marine protected areas to be established between the National Park of Mljet and the Kornati Islands to form what has been defined the “Dalmatian Blue Corridor”.
• The Mediterranean is one of the world's leading tourist destination, with tourism mainly concentrated in the coastal areas of Greece, Turkey, and Croatia. By 2020, some 350 million tourists are expected to visit the Mediterranean, representing about 22 per cent of the international tourism market.
For further information:
Anne Rémy, Head of Communications
WWF Mediterranean Programme Office
Tel: +39 6 844 97 424