On June 30th 2021, the WINTER MED project organised its 2nd Transnational Policy Exchange Workshop online, an occasion to look at inspiring best practices for sustainable tourism led by businesses and destinations in the Mediterranean region and beyond. The event was hosted virtually by EGTC Efxini Poli (Greece) and co-organized by ANCI Toscana (Italy), Lead Partner of the project, and the CPMR Intermediterranean & Islands Commissions (France) with the support of the WINTER MED consortium.

Under the title “Tourism businesses and destinations committed to transversal sustainability”, the workshop brought together the public and the private sectors. With around 70 participants, the event gathered tourism businesses, destinations and local, regional and EU policy makers.

The meeting started with some welcoming words from Mr. Ioannis Margaritis, Prefect of Naxos Island, who noted that despite the tough times for the tourism sector, islands have not lost their value and pulling factor. The event was also honoured by the presence of Ms. Ramune Genzbigelyte-Venturi, Policy Officer at the European Commission (DG GROW). She highlighted the measures undertaken by the EU to facilitate a safe reopening, such as the COVID certificate and the app Re-open EU, and the importance attributed to the tourism ecosystem both within the EU Recovery strategy and the EU industrial strategy. Some steps in particular deserve the stakeholders’ attention: the Blue Forum for users to support the transition, the online consultation “Scenarios towards co-creation of transition pathway for tourism for a more resilient, innovative and sustainable ecosystem” published on 21st June and open until September 15th, as well as the interactive guidelines to the Multiannual Financial Framework funding for tourism, which have been launched in May. The Recovery Plan should also be finalised by the end of summer, as several Member States already submitted the respective contributions.

During the first session of the event, representatives of tourism destinations already implementing integrated sustainability plans shared their experience and some valuable advice. All these experiences seek to protect local biodiversity and the well-being of the inhabitants from the negative effects of an uncontrolled tourism: thus Professor Terry Stevens, international tourism consultant, presented the case of South Somerset, where community led and private sector led innovative measures to develop engaging and sustainable experiences have been developed; Ms. Marie Linde and Mr. Fredrik Lindén from West Sweden Tourist Board presented the “Stepping up sustainability” strategy, an approach made of four principles aiming at fighting overtourism, prioritizing the community interests in terms of full-time jobs creation and local economic benefits; and Ms. Susan Soba, General Director of “Île de la Réunion Tourisme”, showed their principles to carefully preserve the local ecosystems and making visitors responsible towards the environment.  

In the second half of the event the focus was placed on businesses. Mr. Matteo Galeazzi from Refill Now, Ms. Anna Barberini from Be Vedetta and Mr. Frank Van Weerde from Pyrgos House defended how their businesses contribute to a greener and responsible all-year-round tourism. From adapting supply to the season to developing strategies to reduce and manage waste, the speakers described their vision as a win-win for public and private: sustainability in tourism is a strategic asset for businesses as well.

The third and last session of the workshop focused on how to market and communicate a sustainable business. Mr. Jonathan Reyes and Ms. Isabel Duregger from Fairbnb.coop and Mr. Joe Holles from Son Moragues explained to the audience the importance of well-defined and well-studied target audiences and brought to the table a very interesting insight: the best communication is done through actions demonstrating that the business does contribute to a shift towards sustainable tourism, being truthful to the reason for being of the business.

Finally, Dr. Nagore Espinosa, external consultant from IN2destination research and consultancy in tourism supporting ANCI Toscana with transferring activities within WINTER MED, led a guided discussion among the guest speakers which turned around three main points: what the public sector should do to encourage the private sector’s engagement in the field of sustainable tourism, how small companies could better manage marketing in a sustainable logic and, finally, asked the speakers to share successful actions to bring not convinced companies of the tourism value chain into the world of sustainability. The debate collected some relevant suggestions such as optimising public action to support private sector, valorising core values for marketing and networking in order to share such values within a community. 

Professor Anna Zarkada concluded the event sharing some final thoughts. Building resilience, wellbeing of the population, respect and environmental sustainability are some of the key messages to retain, as well as the need to adapt the offer and the language to the new “green” generation.

Presentations are available here.

For further information, please contact:

• Lorena Vidas (ANCI Toscana): lorena.vidas@remove-this.ancitoscana.it

• Flora Leroy (CRPM): flora.leroy@remove-this.crpm.org