Maritime tourism plays a key role in the economies of Mediterranean countries, employing approximately 4.5 million people in the region. Nevertheless, due to environmental pressures and the post COVID-19 effects, maritime tourism is going through a challenging moment. The sector needs a wide transformation to become a resilient and sustainable industry that supports local communities.
This is where the European West Mediterranean NaTOUR project (EU WeMED_NaTOUR) comes in. Co-funded by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), its objectives are to promote sustainable tourism in the region, protect its natural and cultural heritage and increase the competitiveness of the sector. Coordinated by Italian research centre X23 – The Innovation Bakery, the project is designed to support local tourism SMEs and involve them in the creation and delivery of ecotourism packages targeting the school-trip tourism market.
To recover, tourism needs to diversify its offers to reduce seasonal peaks and their strain on the environment. With this in mind, and in response to the market demand for educational tourism offers, the EU WeMED_NaTOUR project is set to design and pilot a series of packages for sustainable school-trip tourism.
Offering immersive "learning by visiting" recreational tourism packages for primary and secondary school pupils, this two-year project is a vehicle for awareness-raising about the importance of West Mediterranean marine ecosystems, coastal destinations and culture. The students will travel to West Mediterranean marine sites and coastal destinations characterized by their exceptional landscapes, cultural identities and ecosystems to participate in marine preservation activities.
The EU WeMED_NaTOUR project will not only improve the skills and employability of small and medium companies in the tourism sector and other stakeholders, it will also raise awareness amongst younger generations about the importance of marine preservation while also increasing international cooperation as countries work together to make the sustainable blue economy a reality.