European Charter for Sustainable Tourism

The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (CETS) is a methodological tool and a certification recognised by the Europarc Federation to improve the management of protected areas for the development of sustainable tourism.

The core element of the Charter is the collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders to develop a common strategy and an action plan for tourism development, starting from an in-depth analysis of the local situation, based on the 10 CETS Principles for sustainability organised in 5 thematic areas.

The 10 principles of the Charter and the 5 priority thematic areas:

CETS is based on 10 principles, to which all participants in the Charter process subscribe and which inspire all Charter actions.

  1. Working in Partnership: Involving all those involved in the protected area’s tourism sector, its development and management
  2. Elaborating a Strategy: Preparing and implementing a strategy for sustainable tourism and an action plan for the protected area with the responsibility of all the actors involved
  3. Protecting and enhancing the natural and cultural heritage: Protecting resources from ill-considered and high-impact tourism
  4. Quality: Guaranteeing visitors a high level of quality at all stages of their visit
  5. Communication: Effectively communicating the area’s unique characteristics to visitors
  6. Specific local tourism products: Encouraging tourism linked to specific products that help people to get to know and discover the local area
  7. Improving knowledge, training: Enhancing knowledge of the protected area and of sustainability issues among all actors involved in the tourism sector
  8. Quality of life for residents: Ensuring that support for tourism does not entail costs for the quality of life of local resident communities
  9. Benefits for the economy: Increasing the benefits of tourism for the local economy
  10. Monitoring of flows, reduction of impacts: Monitoring visitor flows and directing them towards a reduction of negative impacts

The ten principles have recently been grouped by the Europarc Federation into five thematic priority areas:

1. Prioritising conservation

Parks were created to protect nature, and tourism in them must be compatible with the conservation of habitats, plants and animals

2. Contributing to sustainable development

Tourism must consider all its environmental, social and economic impacts, both short and long term, and minimise them

3. Involving all stakeholders

Everyone must be able to participate in decisions on tourism management and work together to promote and develop tourism

4. Planning tourism effectively

Sustainable tourism management must be guided by an action plan that defines shared objectives and actions

5. Pursuing continuous improvement

Tourism development and management must reduce environmental impacts and improve visitor satisfaction, local prosperity and quality of life.

The objective of CETS is the protection of the natural and cultural heritage and the continuous improvement of tourism management in the protected area for the benefit of the environment, the local population, businesses and visitors.

The three phases of the Charter

The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism includes three phases:

Phase I: Sustainable tourism for the protected area;
Phase II : Sustainable tourism for local tourism businesses located in or near the protected area;
Phase III: Sustainable tourism for tour operators operating in the protected area.


    CETS in the Metalliferous Hills National Park

    To obtain the Charter (PHASE I), the protected area had to:

    • Submit the application to the Europarc Federation
    • Undertake a process of training on CETS for the protected area staff involved
    • Create and manage Forums and Working Groups with the different actors in the area involved in various ways in the tourism sector (from businesses to local administrators and trade associations)
    • Carry out a participatory analysis and diagnosis of the protected area’s tourism market, the strategies already in place, the opportunities and the impact from an environmental, economic and social standpoint
    • Develop with the Forum a final Strategy and Action Plan document
    • Obtain a positive assessment from the Europarc Federation on the Action Plan and thus the Diploma of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.

    The Park started the work to obtain the Charter on 18 April 2013 with the meeting of the first FORUM to start the work and present the project to which all the stakeholders of the Metalliferous Hills territory were invited (about 800 actors: tour operators, cultural operators, associations, public bodies, industries).

    In May and June 2013 the consultation rounds with stakeholders were started in order to produce the Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism in the Park’s territory, which continued until September 2014.

    The first CETS certification was obtained in December 2014.

    In addition to the interesting coordination and planning work, it soon became clear that the participatory and co-operative method with which the discussions of the working groups were carried out can produce good results: the Park can better understand the way it is perceived and become aware of the mistakes made in the past, in order to activate improvement actions and more effectively meet the needs of the “thinking green” territory.

    Thanks to the working method required by CETS in order to elaborate the strategic document and the Action Plan, it is possible to realise the considerable changes taking place in the social and economic fabric of the Metalliferous Hills.

    The world of mining – for example – which for centuries has been the economic backbone of the Metalliferous Hills area, risks being totally forgotten (and in this respect the role of the Park is fundamental and well recognised by the stakeholders participating in the CETS Forum). Citizens and economic operators have repeatedly expressed the need for a park that is closer to them and that protects the environment and the beautiful and unique geosites.

    Talking about mining today also links up with the highly topical issue of the exploitation of the Earth’s resources and the increasingly urgent need for a circular economy.

    The three basic concepts on which the first Action Plan (2014 -2018) was developed were: “Culture, Quality Agriculture, Sustainable Tourism”.

    The first Action Plan consisted of 46 actions, to which 25 were added over the 5 years of implementation. Nearly 90% of the planned actions were implemented. The Europarc Federation board also appreciated the result.

    The Second Action Plan entitled “Towards a Green Community in the Parco delle Colline Metallifere” illustrates the 79 envisaged Actions (of which more than 20 already activated in the first and second year despite the events linked to the pandemic).

    This new Action Plan aims at having a broader and more challenging scope than the previous one: in fact, it is not only oriented towards sustainable tourism, but wants to identify ways to trigger and support the development of a Green Community in the Park’s territory, where it is possible to facilitate the conditions for the development of low environmental impact enterprises, oriented to green products and processes, which can create opportunities for qualified, safe and dignified work: green and decent jobs as indicated today by many international strategies (UN, EU, OECD, ILO). The Park is committed to achieving these objectives also through the many experiences of Alternative Schooling – and the collaboration and relationship with schools, universities and national and international research centres.

    The guiding lights in this process are the 17 Sustainability Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda
    Also important in this sense is the work that the Park is carrying out with the Sustainable Development Foundation on the Green Economy in the Park territory

    The guiding lights in this process are the 17 Sustainability Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda

    Also important in this sense is the work that the Park is carrying out with the Sustainable Development Foundation on the Green Economy in the Park territory

    Downloadable documents:

    The CETS First Action Plan can be downloaded here: First CETS Action Plan European Charter for Sustainable Tourism – PHASE I Metalliferous Hills Park – Tuscan Mining UNESCO Geopark

    The Second Plan was submitted in 2019 and will be in force until 2023.

    The Plan can be downloaded here: Second CETS Action Plan (2019 -2023) European Charter for Sustainable Tourism PHASE I Metalliferous Hills Park – Tuscan Mining UNESCO Geopark.

    Other downloadable documents related to CETS in the Park are the following:

    Re-Evaluation Report CETS 2018 – download

    Final Report CETS Action Plan 2014 2018 – download

    On the Europarc Federation website, you can view and download brochures on CETS in several languages.

    This is the section of Federparchi – Europarc Italian section on CETS:

    This is the section of (the Italian Parks Portal) dedicated to CETS in the Metalliferous Hills Park.