Consumers in Europe, for example in Germany,the United
Kingdom or the Netherlands are aware of the environmental
impacts that can be caused by tourism. They expect a
high environmental quality in their destination, prefer
eco-labelled accommodation services, look for certified
products in the travel catalogues and want to have access
to all "green" tourism products in Europe.
Tourism is one of the world's largest industries and one that heavily depends on the natural resource base. Attractive coastal landscapes such as sandy beaches, dune areas, estuaries, and coastal lakes are preferred sites for tourism development. The tourism industry makes significant contributions to the economies of many developing nations particularly to foreign exchange earnings, employment, and GDP.
Recreation, when properly planned and managed, can minimise impacts on coastal environments and serve as a driving force in bringing sustainable tourism as a vehicle of development to local communities and destinations. However, uncontrolled and ill planned tourism significantly degrades the environment.
Blue Flag Award in Europe
The Blue Flag Programme is an example of a current tool for facilitating coastal zone management, raising awareness and communication information by improving not only the environmental quality of beaches and marinas but their management in a holistic way.
Owned and run by the independent, non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) the Blue Flag:
- is a voluntary certification scheme
- has member organisations in 48 countries as of June 2007
- works towards sustainable development at beaches/marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and other services.
- eco-labels (or awards) serve as a mechanism to guide industry actors to improve their performance by providing defined operational guidelines
Blue Flag at Mamaia Beach 2008, Romania
In the EU, including overseas territories, there were 2,244 certified beaches and 573 certified marinas in the 2008/09 season. It has become a symbol of quality recognized by tourists and tour operators around the world and brings a reliable guarantee regarding the environmental quality of tourist beaches and marinas.