The MEET Network: New Opportunities for Travelers and Communities in the Mediterranean Region (SLIDESHOW)
From the sun-drenched beaches of the Côte d’Azur to the crystal-clear waters of the Greek Islands to the rocky trails of Italy’s Cinque Terre, the Mediterranean region draws 220 million tourists each year.
(Photo © Evangelia-Marina: Stunning views from a hike through Karpathos, Greece)
This regular influx of visitors contributes to the destruction of landscapes, soil erosion, water pollution, the loss of wildlife habitat and cultural homogenization.
(Photo © Ramon Fortia. A honeyeater in Aiguamolis, Spain)
Drawn by the economic benefits of mass tourism, local communities often do not prioritize conservation or the protection of their cultural and historical attributes. Visitors are then subject to inauthentic and tarnished experiences.
(Photo © Marianne Lang. Kayak trip in Portcros, France)
The Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism (MEET) is turning things around across the region. MEET is a growing network of tourism experts, tour operators, NGOs and government agencies committed to raising awareness and financial support for protected areas and their surrounding communities through ecotourism.
(Photo © Montgrí, les Illes Medes i el Baix Ter)
Sustainable Travel International has been working with the network to promote MEET Experiences, a series of itineraries that connect travelers with local people and off-the-beaten trail activities. We have also helped MEET to develop a business model that provides an economic incentive for local communities to actively support the conservation of their natural and cultural resources.
(Photo © Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve: Learning about plant species in Jabal Moussa, Lebanon
In France’s Cevennes National Park, visitors learn about edible plants, like Ceps and Chanterelle mushrooms, on hikes led by local guides passionate about the landscape and community traditions.
(Photo © Cevennes Evasion: Hiking through Cevennes, France)
In Torre Canne, Italy, this local farmer shows off his vine-ripened tomatoes. The day ends with a trail-to-table dinner hosted by the farmer, who will instill in visitors an appreciation for the local bounty, and maybe even reveal a family recipe or two!
(Photo © Parco Regionale Delle Dune Costiere: Slow food movement in the Torre Canne Region, Italy)