Catalonia has been chosen among the Mediterranean regions to promote ecotourism, and will do so through the Natural Park of La Garrotxa (Girona). In fact, the Government has joined the European Interreg DestiMED PLUS project, which will invest about 3.6 million euros until 2022 to promote sustainable tourism in protected areas in six countries and will work until then to implement coordinated pilot actions through interdisciplinary groups .
The objective of the project is based on improving the capacity of the local and regional agents of the Mediterranean to incorporate tourism and nature conservation in their agendas, and will involve an investment by the Regional Ministry of Territory and Sustainability of about 77,500 euros, 85% is in charge of European funds. In addition, it is noteworthy that the project also plans to carry out a study of the calculation of the carbon footprint of tourism activities in these areas, in order to make future decisions on measures to promote ecotourism within its protected areas and calculate its economic, social and environmental impact. In this way, a new model of government and the development of tourism products and packages on the nature and culture of these areas will be created, as well as the monitoring of the ecological footprint of these products and packages.
The term ecotourism in which Catalonia is a pioneer has behind theoretical and practical foundations based on sustainable tourism so that it meets the following basic principles:
– Contributes to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the places visited.
– Contributes to improve the quality of life of local populations, including them in ecotourism planning processes, and promotes that small and locally owned businesses benefit from the derived income.
– Tries to minimize the negative impacts on the natural environment and respect local culture and traditions.
– Includes interpretive and educational elements to inform and raise awareness among tourists about the need to conserve nature, biodiversity and associated cultural heritage.