The European Charter reflects the wish of local stakeholders and the tourism business to support and encourage sustainable tourism. The cooperation and networking among the SMEs in the area support a sustainable development and a strong park-identification.
The incentives of SMEs to cooperate with the protected area are diverse, among them:
- the direct proximity to the park
- a better cooperation with the park for their mutual benefit
- strengthening the acceptance of the protected area
- the use of nature for an efficient and targeted guest approach and product development.
The willingness of stakeholders to cooperate is important for the success of sustainable tourism development in protected areas. SMEs often need to be convinced of the benefits of a close partnership. Therefore e.g. stakeholder-forums could be built for giving new impulses and exchanging information among the partners. Parks’ expectations towards SMEs in the course of implementing the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas are the following:
Cooperating SMEs must e.g. consider:
- barrier freedom for handicapped people
- environmental friendly facilities (water & waste management, education, mobility service, purchase)
- proof of ecolabel
- use regional products / suppliers
- guest-information about the protected area
- identity with the aims of protected area (incl. link & logo on its homepage)
- committment to the idea of sustainable tourism
- support common activities of the park (developed in joint decisions)
- future vision (product development, quality management etc.)
An alternative approach was developed by the Müritz National Park / GER (http://ww.mueritz-nationalpark-partner.de). The park administration established a partnership model to get on good cooperation terms with their local SMEs. Up to now there are 41 businesses involved in the partnership programme. The partners have to fulfil certain standards on quality, cooperation, information, identification and environmental issues, among them:
- partners identity with the goals and vision of Müritz National Park
- provision of up-to-date and accurate information about the Müritz National Park
- cooperation with the Müritz National Park Authority and other actors in the region
- value the use of regional products and act environmental friendly.
There has been an encouragement by the park administration to initiate an own labelling standard in the frame of the “Nationale Naturlandschaften” Network – the umbrella organisation of German nature parks, national parks and biosphere reserves (http://www.nationale-naturlandschaften.de)
Best practice examples of stakeholder involvement in Kemeri National Park, Müritz National Park and Dovrefjell National Park can be obtained here.
Mutual benefits for business and protected areas is central to the objectives of the Charter - therefore EUROPARC has commissioned a publication "Public-Private Sector Partnerships mutual benefits for business and protected areas" which introduces some ideas, through information, advice, case studies and other examples how public-private partnerships have been used to deliver sustainable tourism products and services in protected areas. The publication can be downloaded here.