Med Community Midterm Conference in Rome

The “Med Sustainable Tourism Community’s Community Building event and Midterm Conference” took place in Rome on 29-30 May. EuroVelo was in on it, presenting the MedCycleTour project, which is based on EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route.

The conference brought together representatives from many projects in the community. The Med Sustainable Tourism Community comprises more than 20 projects focusing on the Mediterranean. It was created in November 2016 and includes almost 100 organisations (public authorities, private companies, universities and international organisations) in nine Euro-Mediterranean countries, aiming to make policy makers, scientists and practitioners join forces to design policies and management strategies for sustainable tourism.

Breathing hot Roman air heavy with the scent of blooming jasmine, the about 100 conference participants were focusing on monitoring the sustainability of tourism and on environmental, cultural and social impacts of tourism in the Mediterranean region. Concentrated tourism flows have put considerable pressure on natural resources and the environment in this region. Fostering sustainable tourism has become crucial, as the Mediterranean is experiencing a loss of biodiversity, the effect of desertification and the diminishing reserves of water.

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The advantages of cycle tourism are obvious in this context. Your EuroVelo correspondent presented MedCycleTour at the conference, one of the Med Community’s projects. It focuses on EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route, which connects the whole Mediterranean from Cádiz to Cyprus on a length of nearly 6,000 km. The presentation highlighted the advantages of cycle tourism, which helps tackle some of the most important challenges of tourism in the Mediterranean. Cycle tourism:

  • reduces the environmental impact of traveling,
  • reduces congestion and noise in populated areas,
  • allows for more space, which would normally be taken up by cars,
  • can bring tourists to less visited areas,
  • dilutes the impact of concentrated tourism flows,
  • prolongs the tourism season,
  • encourages longer stays,
  • increases the consumption of local products,
  • raises average spending,
  • and is a significant business factor.

Moreover, taking a transnational approach in the MedCycleTour project will enable common challenges to be tackled together, e.g. lack of route infrastructure, missing cycle-friendly services, or weak branding and promotion. Furthermore, best practices can be shared, avoiding duplication and increasing the effectiveness and positive social, economic and environmental impacts. The presentation stressed that EuroVelo is one of the most successful European transnational tourism products, and international cooperation is the key for this success.

The various presentations and interactive workshops at the conference showed that data and concrete project results need to be transformed into key messages to have a stronger influence on policy makers. The next step will be to draft a capitalisation plan and to distribute it among the community’s projects. It could be approved at the next Med Community event in Marseille in November.

The whole conference was accompanied by graphic facilitator Barbara Govin, who came up with beautiful, funny and useful drawings of what happened at the stage.