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© WWF - Mediterranean / Ivan Bura

There is immense pressure on our region’s natural resources as tourists swarm to Adria’s beaches, islands, towns and cities. In response, our protected areas are seeking new commercially viable sustainable alternatives.

Mass tourism is no good for nature

The Adria region is a global biodiversity hotspot. It is also a key tourist destination with an annual increase in visitor numbers. The dominant tourism paradigm, though, is unsustainable.

Mainstream mass tourism does not tend to take nature into account with devastating consequences. Tourism is one of the main causes of ecological loss in the region. Some locations which were once pristine are now beyond repair. Unsustainable tourist activities also have a negative impact on protected areas.

While it is easy to assume that the success of a protected areas depends on the number of visitors, increased numbers of tourists are often the biggest threat to the preservation of our most beautiful and biologically most important areas.

Marine turtles are badly affected by the destruction of their nesting sites and by disturbance.

© Michel Gunther / WWF
Transformation towards responsible tourism

Well managed tourism can support conservation, while contributing to sustainable development and providing income opportunities and higher quality of life for local communities.

Taking care of our natural heritage, through protected areas, is central to sustainable development and is at the basis of socio-economic well-being. A more efficient and ecologically sound form of tourism ecotourism is an important solution. It requires greater community participation in natural resources management, and the development of indicators for monitoring the impact of tourism on the environment and local communities.

We need to make sure that tourism in protected areas is low impact and contributes in a positive way to all ecosystem components, including people.


When we work on tourism we focus on four components: conservation impact, commercial viability, community development and cultural appreciation. Local circumstances, traditions and values must be respected, along with human rights and gender issues.

We want to protect nature from the negative impacts of mass tourism and promote models of responsible tourism in the most important areas for nature.

Our projects improve governance in protected areas, strengthening cooperation between management bodies and local stakeholders through the development of sustainable businesses for mutual economic and environmental benefit.

In Kornati National Park and Lastovo Nature Park we have created two successful models for  the coexistence of nature protection and tourism, where profit goes to the local community, tourists contribute to nature protection, and the local teams work towards reducing the negative impacts on natural resources.


Whether you're heading to the beach or the mountains, immersing yourself in nature or visiting a big city, you can play your part: select an appropriate destination, choose the best way to get there, choose the right place to stay, be responsible and treat local people with as much respect as you would the wildlife. You have much to learn from them, and they are often the key to saving those animals and habitats you care so much about. 
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Croatia's oldest and most visited national park, UNESCO heritage site Plitvice Lakes, is highly jeopardized by sheer numbers: there are sometimes more than 15,000 visitors a day.

© Petra Boić Petrač