Development of a Sustainable Holiday Accommodation Network in Italian Protected Areas

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The Park is promoting tourism businesses with a new Leader+ project

The natural, historical and cultural characteristics of the Belluno Dolomites National Park make it extremely attractive to holidaymakers. However, this richness is not yet backed by a network of businesses outside the hotel sector able to provide holidaymakers with an adequate supply of accommodation in the area adjacent to the Park. With the exception of the “Carta qualità” initiative described elsewhere in this site, local businesses cannot yet count on a support structure providing strong links with the protected area. With the help of European Community LEADER+ financing, the Park and the Local Prealps and Dolomites Action Group have set up a joint project to develop and maintain a system to promote and assist tourism businesses taking part in the Park’s “Carta qualità” scheme. Through collaboration agreements with the Cinque Terre National Park and the La Spezia Local Action Group for Rural Areas (both in Liguria) and the Municipal Enterprise for Planning and Development in Patrasso, Greece, the project has become important on an international level. Other Italian parks have also expressed an interest in the initiative which, although already operational, will be further expanded with new members in the near future. For a total of almost €350,000, the project is divided into a series of actions common to all participants, together with actions developed independently by each individual authority. In the Park area, it will be implemented by the Belluno Dolomites National Park. The main purpose of the project is to develop a joint strategy to increase the supply of holiday accommodation in the protected areas by identifying management procedures complying with the needs for sustainability and helping promote the economic and social growth of local people, in line with the principles of the Leader+ programme. More details on the actions included in the project are given below.

Action 1. Analysis of holiday accommodation in the protected areas
In order to understand how the holiday accommodation sector is structured in each protected area, an in-depth survey will be carried out to identify the location of the holiday accommodation already present and define the types and characteristics. All data will be entered in a database forming part of the Park’s Geographical Information System, enabling the system of holiday accommodation outside the hotel sector to be monitored.

Action 2. Sustainable use
From the holiday accommodation analysed, those businesses implementing a management system in compliance with the requisites of the “Carta qualità” regulations will be highlighted and promoted. Activities include development of new and more up-to-date guidelines (Italian text) for ecosustainable management of holiday accommodation, definition of quality standards for the services offered considering the experiences of other partners in the project and updating of the Carta qualità regulations (Italian text).

Action 3. Observatory of sustainable holiday accommodation in parks
A joint structure will be created in the form of an observatory with the task of constantly monitoring the availability of holiday accommodation in the protected areas concerned and controlling the environmental sustainability requisites. The Observatory will identify the most appropriate ways to develop local accommodation and provide technical support to improve the service offered. The Observatory will also be responsible for organising a series of meetings between the parks and travel and tourism agencies and operators and for defining specific agreements with these parties to include the accommodation available in the protected areas in their holiday packages.

Action 4. Communication initiatives
On the basis of the Park Authority’s experience, a series of information and communication actions will be developed:

  • creation of a common logo to identify all businesses taking part in the initiative in the Belluno Dolomites National Park and Cinque Terre National Park;
  • creation of an internet portal describing the rural tourism and bed and breakfast opportunities offered by the area, including the addresses and descriptions of the accommodation and offering the holidaymaker the possibility to establish direct contact;
  • production and printing of  specific publications promoting the initiative and therefore also participating businesses;
  • attendance at trade fairs and promotional events.

Pilot action
As a pilot action, the Belluno Dolomites National Park has activated an information point at its offices providing businesses with details on participating (Italian text) in the “Carta qualità” scheme and giving information on the offer of services and activities available in the protected area. The information point will coordinate the various sector operators involved in the promotions, actively supporting businesses to help them gain greater visibility in the areas described in action 4. Finally, the information point will produce a regular information publication (the one you are reading is “number zero”) to guarantee the project maximum visibility.