The Park in Brussels to take part in the Award Ceremony of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism

The added value of the CETS in the Cinque Terre National Park: the environmental, tourist and economic value in the area as purpose of the mass tourism

(Riomaggiore, 09 Dic 15) It is an honor for me to take part in this ceremony and to be invited to the European Parliament. I give the Cinque Terre National Park's greetings to all of you.

I would like to thank Europarc for having granted us the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism, which allows us to become part of a very demanding but also exciting work perspective regarding the tourism themes combined with the protection of both the environment and the landscape, in full respect of the local cultures and traditions.
The Cinque Terre National Park is a small and precious territory, whose landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997, and it consists of a fragile balance between earth and sea and of the terraces characterizing the coastline, which are the result of the determined efforts men and women put into a work with which, over many years, they could create narrow corridors in the woods and on the steep slopes overlooking the sea, in order to use them for the cultivation of an excellent vine variety. This wine's taste keeps this long story: not only in the essence of exquisite grapes but also in the salty taste of the sea.

Terraces, paths, dry-stone walls, hamlets and the sea of the Cetacean Sanctuary constitute that landscape which leads tourists from all over the world to visit our territory: it's been estimated that in 2015 about two and a half million tourists visited the Cinque Terre. The development of the cruise ship traffic in the nearest harbors increased such tourism and deeply changed some of its features.

The Charter's commitment moves within this critical situation and ambivalence. With full respect of both the traditional economy and the most recent one, that is to say with full respect of the resident communities (with which the National Park always has to regulate its own institutional task of active protection), the Charter allows us to enhance the most aware and most responsible tourism, that is that kind of tourism able to enhance the territory by bringing out its features.

It is an ambitious and difficult prospect considering the strong tendency to the abandonment of the land and of the traditional activities (such as agriculture and fishing) caused by tourism, which made the less hard and more profitable seasonal jobs more appealing.

We live in times when those territories that have been safeguarded and looked after by the resident communities for many years risk to be included in a profit-and-loss statement which doesn't consider their future. Tourism represents an extremely significant economic resource, and it will become always more important in Europe, but it is necessary to think of journeys as something able to make people know and to bring out the natural and landscape heritage of the visited places at the same time. To know by traveling, it is necessary the respect of other people's identity, of the energy of walkers, of the right distance from things: a territory is not a fixed postcard, and the impetuous entrance in a fragile and delicate landscape (like a "Costa Concordia" in the Giglio island, like a huge ship or a runaway tourist flow in the centre of Venice) may fatally change that landscape and cause serious damages.

The Cinque Terre National Park not only intends to safeguard the environment and the landscape, but also to protect the cultural identities: it is a necessary prospect in Italy's smallest but most populated protected area.
The way we undertook towards the resident people consists in supporting agriculture by boosting the wine production, in the maintenance of the dry-stone walls and of the paths, in the selective hunting of wild boars, in the functioning of the monorails, in the funding and insurance systems.

All the actions including the good reception, the online information, the booking of visits, the organization of the visitors' flows and the involvement of the tourist guides, of the environmental education center, of the environmental quality labels as a tool to recognize the best practices of the hotel and restaurant service sectors are all aimed at tourism, considered as a crucial source of income not only for the Cinque Terre, but also for a wide region.

Today this project is strengthened by the trust and the approval of Europarc, which allows us to compare ourselves with other European Parks' experiences, not only those that, like us, are already facing the challenge of tourism, but also those that are working to meet it. The Parks are the bearers of a possible new development pattern, and sustainable tourism is a very significant part of it.
Thank you for your welcome and for your attention.

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