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WWF Statement on Tourism Impact on Mediterranean

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  • Bruce at Island Resources
    -- 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2001
      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
      local communities.

      "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
      DeBrine added.

      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).
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