Chapter four of the European Commission’s Sixth Environment Action Plan notes that “Tourism and natural environment are closely inter-linked. Nature and bio-diversity, as well as cultural heritage, if not properly managed, can be seriously affected by uncontrolled tourism development. Fragile areas, such as islands, coastal and mountain areas provide bio-diversity richness that require particular attention and specific integrated management means when dealing with tourism development.” Intensive tourism development in Rimini has given the resort, with its 2,700 hotels, the highest tourist density in Italy. Tourism strains the natural resources of the district, and causes problems linked to waste and pollution, road traffic, and urban congestion. Therefore, further planning and private operator policies need to be reconsidered, and must take into account changes in expectations of tourists, who are increasingly concerned with the environmental quality of their holiday destination and facilities.
The general objective of the project is to foster integration of environmental strategies into development of the tourist industry. This general aim is pursued through the following main activities: § integration of knowledge of the area's problems, developed through analysis on a wide scale of the critical aspects, and using assessment and planning methods involving relevant stakeholders (Carrying Capacity Assessment, Integrated Coastal Zone Management), in connection with ongoing LA21 initiatives; § integration of the indicators used for the 'State of the Environment' report, with specific parameters able to measure the performance of tourist activities; § implementation of strategic and integrated planning that will take into account the needs of all stakeholders § definition of an integrated strategy for the private sector, according to the specific needs and characteristics of the operators in the Province. Finally, a Network of Mass-Tourism destinations will be set up, with the aim of following sustainable tourism improvements. A broad social agreement on new ideas and projects in the area of sustainable tourism will also be actively pursued.
The project, which ran from November 2000 to October 2003, was promoted and managed by the Province of Rimini (Italy), in close cooperation with the Municipality of Calvià (Spain). Both mass-tourist destinations, they aimed to share similar and partially complementary approaches for reducing tourism pressure and improving the local environmental quality of the coast line. As well as the organization of two major dissemination events (one in Rimini, in June 2001, the second in Calvià, carried out in January 2003, both with several hundreds of participants coming from various European and other countries), the project saw the production of Integrated Coastal Management Plans for Rimini and Calvià coastal areas (two Plans, coherent with EU-ICZM approaches). In this sense the work done provides an useful framework for the future implementation of this important planning instrument. As well as this, in the Rimini area a special effort to implement Ecolabel certification and Green Purchasing criteria,coherent with EU approaches, was undertaken, with the publication of three specific manuals addressed to hotel owners and managers. A remarkable awareness-raising campaign was carried out, including a wide range of initiatives (leaflets, posters, video, etc). In the Calvià area, the LIFE project added to experience developed around the implementation of a LA21 scheme. In both areas, a series of pilot actions to demonstrate the feasibility of improving the environmental quality of coastal areas was developed. Among them, the following are notable in the Rimini area: - the promotion of a car-sharing service for tourists; - the re-qualification of Marano creek with an integrated project design, centred on phito-depuration techniques; - the launch of the “Green beach” scheme to improve the environmental management of beach installations for tourists envisaging the improvement of energy/waste flow at the beach installations and the sustainable production (via FV panels) of energy by private operators). The active involvement of the Istituto Ambiente Italia, a private research body that has worked on several environmental issues critical for local planning, and of the main Italian hotels’ association (Federalberghi) contributed to good dissemination of the project results. In addition a specific Network of Mediterranean mass tourism destination involving some 20 different partners was set up. According to recent updates, the beneficiary and some partners involved in the Network of mass-tourism destinations launched an INTERREG III project in 2004. This project is named “Suvot” and is focused on sustainable and vocational tourism. In addition, the Network is being enlarged to other tourist destinations located outside the Mediterranean zone, such as Blackpool (UK), Birstonas ( Lithuania),and also in Sweden. The Network has also recently launched an initiative (a partnership agreement) with a group of relevant Tour operators (TOI), in order to reinforce the relationship between them and Local Authorities, and identify the best strategies for the development of sustainable tourism. At a more local level, the integration of the pilot actions developed during the implementation of the LIFE project continues (eg. support for the achievement of environmental certification by economic actors, the “Green beach” scheme, etc). A follow-up report, carried out in February 2005 by the LIFE external monitoring team, showed that when it closed, the project had successfully met its overall objective and had created a network of cities and local authorities committed to sustainable tourism development. This network continues today, comprising 16 members from across the Mediterranean region (e.g. Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Tunisia and Spain). A range of other results were also achieved: - Development of integrated coastal management plans for Rimini and Calvià; - Implementation of eco-label and green purchasing criteria in the two districts; - Hosting of a series of sustainable tourism conferences; - Awareness-raising actions to make tourists and tour operators more aware of environmental concerns, including the publication of “Ten Golden Rules of the Sustainable Tourist”, a European first, with a print-run of 150,000 copies in 2003. In recognition of the project’s achievements, in 2003 the beneficiary was awarded 1st prize in the "Carmen Diez de Rivera" European Award for Sustainable Tourism. See: www.turismosostenibile.provincia.rimini.it/.