The MEET Network: New Opportunities for Travelers and Communities in the Mediterranean Region (SLIDESHOW)

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    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)
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    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)
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    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)
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    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)
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    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
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    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)
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    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)

An Industry Call to Action at Travel & Tourism Summit

“Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and a high-stakes piece of the global sustainability puzzle,” said Sam Adams, Portland’s former Mayor and current director of the US Climate Change Initiative at the World Resources Institute. “It can be an important part of the solution, provided the industry comes together and works toward common goals.”

World Tourism Day: Celebrating the Caribbean

We’re working with our partners in the Caribbean to plan their own path toward a better future so that the magnificent beaches, magnetic cultural traditions and verdant forests that attract millions of visitors each year contribute to the well-being of communities, the creation of jobs and the protection of resources.

Q&A with Seleni Matus, Vice President of Global Programs

One of the most effective ways of  addressing the interrelated issues that impact a tourism destination’s economic, social and environmental well-being is to take a region-wide approach to planning and to equip local people with the information and tools they need to prepare for their future. Here, Sustainable Travel International’s Seleni Matus provides an overview of the regional alliance model and its promise for improving lives and protecting lands through tourism.

Communities in Suriname Tap the Potential of Tourism

We have been working with IICA-Suriname, community and business leaders, local NGOs, and donors in Suriname since 2013, helping to facilitate a vision and path forward for the country’s indigenous groups. With few options available to them, the Arawak and Carib peoples—who live in the country’s vast and heavily forested interior—are determined to maintain their cultural traditions, protect local biodiversity and to create economic opportunities where few exist. Tourism provides the most promising path forward.