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While the aim - sustainable coastal tourism - is clear, there is no standard recipe for reaching it. Usually, the development of a Strategy and Action Plan for sustainable coastal tourism is a useful measure that guarantees efficient and coordinated action.

Every destination is unique, and therefore each development strategy must be sensitive to the destination’s unique assets and challenges, while creating a vision to deliver the destination’s goals for environmental sustainability.

Destination planners and policy officials are frequently unaware of the opportunities that greener tourism can bring to their destination. And even those who are aware usually lack the skills or experience necessary to build sustainability into new or ongoing destination development efforts.

The following steps should be followed:

1. Analysis of status-quo
A thorough compilation and analysis of existing information and knowledge is the prerequisite for a Strategy.

It should take into consideration:

  • Development of previous tourism management or related strategies for the specific area (What can be used? Has it been implemented? Which lessons are to be learnt?)
  • A stakeholder analysis (Who has an interest in sustainable tourism development? Who are the main actors?)
  • Facts and figures of the local educational system, economical and social structure
  • Anecdotal and traditional knowledge

Methods for collecting this information are, among others:

  • Interviews with stakeholders
  • Questionnaires distributed and collected by e-mail, fax or personally in oder to compile standardised data and perform a statistical analysis
  • Invitation to focus group meetings (e.g. meetings on environmental education, biodiversity management, good governance and fisheries)
  • Literature search in the local library and the internet

2. Strategy development
A Sustainable Tourism Strategy is based on the information collected in Step 1 (see above). It defines the priority issues, the stakeholder community, the potential objectives and a set of methodologies to reach these objectives.

These can include, among others:

  • Conservation of specific coastal landscapes or habitats that make the area attractive or are protected under nature conservation legislation
  • Development of regionally specific sectors of the economy that can be interlinked with the tourism sector (e.g. production of food specialities and handicrafts)
  • Maximising local revenues from tourism investments
  • Enabling self-determined cultural development in the region, etc.

3. Action plan
The Action Plan spells out the steps needed to implement the strategy and addressing a number of practical questions such as: Which organizations will take up which activities, over what time frame, by what means and with which resources?

As the actions have to be tailored to regional circumstances, there is no standard Action Plan for all. However, Action Plans usually include measures in the following fields:

  • Administration: e.g. promotion of co-operation between sectors and of cross-sectorial development models; involving local people in drafting tourism policy and decisions
  • Socio-economical sector: e.g. promoting local purchasing of food and building material; setting up networks of local producers for better marketing; development of new products to meet the needs of tourists, etc.
  • Environment: e.g. improving control and enforcement of environmental standards (noise, drinking water, bathing water, waste-water treatment, etc.); identification and protection of endangered habitats; creation of buffer zones around sensitive natural areas; prohibition of environmentally harmful sports in jeopardised regions; strict application of Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures on all tourism related projects and programs
  • Knowledge: training people involved in coastal tourism about the value of historical heritage; environmental management; training protected area management staff in nature interpretation; raising environmental awareness among the local population; introducing a visitors information programme (including environmental information)