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Since the mid-90s sustainable development of tourism has become a priority of EU Institutions. In its Communication "Working together for the future of European tourism", the European Commission proposed to further "promote sustainable development of tourism activities in Europe by defining and implementing Agenda 21". This issue received strong support from the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic, Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The recent European Commissionís Communication: "Basic orientations for the sustainability of European tourism" proposes more measures for strengthening the Communityís contribution to the sustainability of European tourism. Furthermore, sustainable tourism can particularly benefit from the approaches and instruments outlined in the European Commission Communication on integrating environmental issues with economic policy; the European Community Bio-diversity Strategy which includes guidance on the issue of developing sustainable tourism within protected areas and with low impact on Europeís Natura 2000 sites. Finally the White Paper on "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" and the EU policies on water and waste management which directly affect the tourism sector can help to promote the sustainability of tourism.


Policies for sustainable coastal tourism

A range of measures has been promoted at the European Union level to encourage sustainable tourism. These largely relate to wider environmental and coastal zone management regulation, funding instruments and guidance.
The European Community Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) strategy and the related Recommendation, which outlines the way to promote ICZM, are particularly relevant for tourism activities and tourist destinations. Member States are asked to develop, by spring 2006, national ICZM strategies, which should also involve tourism activities.



Facts and figures

Example 1
Sustainable Tourism: One goal for many actors (EC, 2002).

Sustainable Development has become an accepted concept for policy development. International Agencies and Organizations like the World Tourism and Travel Council (WWTC) and the International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO) have attempted to highlight tourism- environment issues. In 1993, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) published a Guide for sustainable development for local planners. UNEP, in collaboration with the International Hotels Environment Initiative has produced guidelines to improve the environmental performance of hotel units (The Green Hotelier, Going Green Makes Sense, Environmental Management for Hotels). The Convention for Biodiversity and Agenda 21 support incentives towards sustainable tourism development.

The European Commission has published the Green Paper on the Role of the Union in the field of Tourism. During 1995 and 1996 it established ECONETT, a network for tourism and environment. Significant initiatives for sustainable tourism were also undertaken by the Council of Europe. Because of Treaty obligations, the EU's tourism sector cooperation with governments or private business needed to include a consideration of the environmental effects of each planned action. Within this context the private sector also undertook initiatives towards reducing impacts of tourism on the environment.
Hotels, airlines and others implemented several measures in order to promote sustainable consumption of natural resources and minimization of waste production.

Example 2
Cyclades EU ICZM Demonstration project

One of the objectives of the EU ICZM Demonstration project entitled "Programme for integrated coastal zone management in the Cyclades" was the "Sustainable tourism development". Some of the priorities for action (indicative) that were identified were the following:

  • Enhance quality of tourist product and services
  • Assure accessibility and elaboration of indicators for sustainable tourism development
  • Prioritization and promotion of best practice and innovative actions for tourism management
  • Promote elongation of the tourist season
  • Encourage traditional activities, mainly agriculture (e.g. biological products)
  • Promote awareness and training in new forms of tourism management, etc.
  • Link tourist product with networks

The island of Serifos in Cyclades, Greece

Further information: Prof. Harry Coccossis ( and Dr. Alexandra Mexa (



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