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The Project
 

A route to sustainable rural development through ecotourism labelling

Ecotourism , as defined by the International Ecotourism Society in 1992, is " a responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people ". In order to achieve the best results from ecotourism, both companies that organise such activities and the rural inhabitants supporting them through various services, need to acquire special skills and competencies to ensure that the right standards are achieved.

ECO-ROUTE (an acronym for "A Route to Sustainable Rural Development through Ecotourism Labelling") is a pilot project co-funded by the European Commission, Leonardo Da Vinci Programme between October 2003-2005, which aims to sensitise and empower rural populations in the development of quality ecotourism.

But, what are the benefits from promoting quality ecotourism?
The traveller gets to experience more;
The local populations get their economy strengthened;
The tour operator gets more and more interested customers, from a segment in steady growth within the tourism industry; and
The destination's nature, culture and people are treated with respect and consideration.

To promote its aim and spread its benefits, the ECO-ROUTE project aims to systematically prepare local communities' members in the participating pilot regions for the introduction of a system of quality assurance in ecotourism servicing. In doing so, the socio-economic and environmental benefits for the local communities, stemming from the development of quality ecotourism, will be promoted and safeguarded.