Sustainable tourism at European Maritime Day

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Responsible Whale Watching Project Manager, Sophie Lewis, attended the 2018 European Maritime Day conference in Burgas, Bulgaria on the 31st of May and 1st of June 2018.

“European Maritime Day welcomes Europe’s growing maritime community, with industry professionals from across the EU joining policymaker to discuss, debate and exchange best practices. Participants come from ports, shipping industries, clusters, environmental associations, trade unions, scientific and research institutions, education, and local, regional, national and European authorities, amongst others.” On day one of the European Maritime Day conference, I joined Luis Lozano and workshop host Julia Vera Prieto to run a stakeholder workshop entitled: Nautical Routes: Championing Marine Ecotourism in Europe.

 This workshop aimed to identify key tools to help address the key challenges of nautical and coastal tourism.

Julia Vera Prieto (Travel Ecoology) began the session by introducing the positive potential and challenges for nautical tourism routes in Europe followed by presentations by myself to introduce the Wildsea Atlantic Ocean Heritage (WAOH!) Route and Luis to introduce the Tuna Route, both projects having been funded by the European Commission.

The session then broke into three focus groups to discuss key tools under three categories: Governance, Sustainability and Innovation and Branding and commercialisation. Finally, participants voted on the tools under each category that they deemed the most important.

The workshop resulted in interesting outcomes, with the following tools being identified as the most important under their related category:


The need to have formal coordination platforms and expert bodies bringing public and private stakeholders together.

Sustainability and innovation:

Community events (i.e. beach cleans, marine life festivals, art, theatre and music), sustainability action plans, capacity building for tourism operators and destinations, market recognition of environmental stewardship.

Branding and commercialisation:

Customer profiling and market research, product development oriented to the customer’s experience and celebrating nature, or connecting existing networks, including with green transport and accommodation.

Interestingly, “community events” was identified as being highly important from both the perspective of the destination stakeholders and from the perspective of tourists. This is an aspect of responsible tourism that the WCA has always championed and so it was very encouraging to see this reflected in the views of the participating stakeholders.Another workshop of particular note during the first day of the EMD Conference was a workshop titled: Between Green and Blue: Sustainability in Marine and Coastal Tourism

This workshop was hosted by Valentin Moldoveanu from Tulcea County Council,

Jeremy Sampson from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Mauro Randone from WWF.

This workshop focused on:

– Addressing the impact of Mass/over Tourism

– How to influence and improve the behaviours of travellers

– How do we ensure alternative forms of tourism do not become the problem.To end the first day, I attended a workshop entitled “Ocean Literacy to support Blue Growth: The Way Forward” demonstrated how improving ocean literacy can support behaviour change from all actors of the blue economy.

The workshop hosted by Olga Mashkina and Pierre Strosser from ACTeon, ResponSEAble project focused on the different approaches to ocean literacy within the blue growth sectors and how these can be integrated into policy. The workshop was well paced, included an interactive activity that was very effective in demonstrating a way in which ocean literacy has been promoted to fishers in Europe and finished with a panel discussion with speakers from IUCN, DGMare and IOC-UNESCO.

The workshop demonstrated the challenges of working across sectors and the need for adaptation and sensitivity when attempting to implement ocean literacy improvement mechanisms.

The two day event was rounded off by a look at the key focus areas of funding for the European commission post 2020.

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