Destruction of the Mediterranean by mass tourism poses a challenge
for industry, warns WWF
From WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature
Thursday, March 01, 2001
BERLIN, GERMANY - As the ITB, the leading trade fair for the global
tourism industry, opens in Berlin, WWF, the conservation
organization, today issued a warning about the increasingly negative
impact of tourism development on the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean plays host to 220 million tourists annually, a
figure projected to increase to 350 million in twenty years. This
projected increase could lead to uncontrolled development of the
entire Mediterranean basin, degrading the unique natural and cultural
wealth of the region.
WWF believes that a new form of tourism must be introduced in the
Mediterranean to ensure that the decline of nature is halted and
WWF is therefore urging the tourism industry, from tour operators to
local decision-makers, to commit to responsible tourism development
in the region. At a minimum this means adequate protection of the key
areas for biodiversity conservation, no development in the most
critical places within these areas and beneficial development to
"The tourism industry has to reduce its impact on nature, if we want
to save the Mediterranean's unique heritage. By wrecking the valuable
environment on which it depends, the tourism industry will be the
ultimate loser," said Peter DeBrine, Tourism Officer at WWF's
Mediterranean Programme Office.
According to an analysis presented today by WWF, in 2005 France,
Italy and Spain will see a continued increase in tourism pressure
while countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey and Croatia
will experience a massive surge of new tourism development.
In particular, many of the areas that WWF has identified as the most
important for nature in the Mediterranean are threatened by such
tourism development, which may result in most of these areas loosing
their invaluable biodiversity by 2020.
"The Mediterranean is the leading tourist destination in the world,
it is also one of the most important regions for its outstanding
biodiversity and cultural features. Trends shown in WWF's analysis
suggest that the impacts will be devastating and irreversible." Peter
Currently, mass tourism is one of the main drivers of coastal and
marine degradation in the Mediterranean.
Mass tourism causes enormous transformation of entire areas leading
to soil erosion, increased pollution discharges into the sea, natural
habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened
vulnerability to forest fires.
It puts a strain on water resources, an already thorny issue in the
Mediterranean (for instance, an average Spanish dweller uses 250
litres of water per day while the average tourist uses up to 880
litres). It also often leads to cultural disruption and deterioration
of attractive landscapes.
Through inappropriate development practices, once pristine locations
have been damaged, sometimes beyond repair. WWF is challenging the
tourism industry to create a new model to halt this trend.
WWF believes that there should be no further development in the
absence of careful planning that includes a network of protected
areas capable of safeguarding the region's biodiversity and the
sustainable use of natural resources (land, water, energy).
· The 13 key marine and coastal areas identified by WWF as very
important to biodiversity: Alboran sea (Spain, Morocco, Algeria);
Balearic Islands (Spain); Liguro-Provençal coast (France, Italy,
Monaco); Corso-Sardinian coast (France, Italy); Southern Tyrrhenian
coast (Italy); Dalmatian coast (Croatia); Eastern Ionian coast and
islands (Albania, Greece); Aegean sea (Greece, Turkey) and South
Western Anatolian coast (Turkey); Cilician coast (Turkey) and Cyprus
coast; Cyrenaica (Lybia); Gulf of Sirte (Libya); Gulf of Gabes
(Tunisia); Algero-Tunisian coast (Algeria, Tunisia).