Interviews and workshops of project partners (pilot sites) with key stakeholders – new insights on interactions and impacts of tourism on protected areas

Date: 15.04.2024

The data recorded at least in the last decade, except for the years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, show a sharp increase in tourist flows within naturalistic areas including parks and protected areas. It is evidence of the growing interest in outdoor tourism and for greater contact with nature. A phenomenon that the pandemic has certainly encouraged, and positively understood as attitude and approach to natural spaces, recognizing the benefits that can be gained from spending time and practicing outdoor activities. Everyone agrees on this, as well as on the need to be able to deal with the tourism sector so that it benefits both the development of local economies, tourists and their satisfaction, and the environment.

In the period January-March 2024, a series of interviews and workshops was organized by the project partners (pilot sites) with stakeholders and experts, with the aim to provide an in-depth insight and diversified perspectives on the general theme of interactions and impacts of tourism on protected areas.

Specifically, the documentation collected, and the results obtained, aim to support partners and pilot sites to:

·         gain a deeper understanding of how tourists engaging in various activities within protected areas and pilot sites interact with nature and the local environment;

·         gather insights and critics from diverse stakeholders and experts regarding this issue at the designated pilot sites;

·         find out how these problems relate to various stakeholders, whether and how they approach these interactions;

·         know how they could be better engaged and cooperate with the project partners during the project;

·         what are their expectations;

·         promote a broader understanding of the significance of “collectively managed protected areas”.

The interviews and workshop activities carried out demonstrate the awareness on the part of the network of stakeholders and natural areas management bodies of the need to strengthen the mutual ties of collaboration, combine energy, networks and expertise to intervene with new projects or make adjustments where necessary. The public is undoubtedly the other key element on which depends the sustainability of future tourism scenarios, people who must be addressed proper information and awareness-raising initiatives at different levels.

All respondents showed particular interest in the actions and objectives of the HUMANITA project, expressing their concern to stay updated and in contact with the reference partners. The activities carried out in order to achieve this deliverable have proved to be particularly relevant and effective in strengthening relations and knowledge with strategic actors in the pilot areas, whose role is undoubtedly crucial to achieving the objectives set by the institutions and expected by the project.