Şirince 15.08.- 05.09.2009
What is a "Campus"?
TOWARDS A CAMPUS NETWORK TO PROMOTE ECOTOURISM AND SOLIDARITY
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
The European Group of Campuses (GEC) and its partner, the Mediterranean Centre for Environment (CME) aims to identify and establish partnerships with organisations from different Mediterranean regions, who want to develop ecotourism in urban and rural areas in the framework of local development.
For over 10 years GEC, through the organisation of the campuses, addresses specifically the Maghreb, Lebanon, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, to develop strategies for sustainable tourism (development of local plans, design of tourism processes and holidays, production of guide books, including hiking). The skills acquired in engineering and tourism especially in the field of ecotourism and tourism are now in line with a strong demand from tour operators and all Mediterranean countries for this type of tourism.
Ecotourism, a possible solution to develop Mediterranean rural and urban areas
The Mediterranean basin - main focus of tourists from all over the world - has exceptionally rich natural and cultural values which explains its tourism potential. With the abandonment of many rural areas around the Mediterranean, the development of rural tourism is seen as a possible alternative to generate and sustain local incomes. While poorly controlled tourism can be devastating to the social and cultural environment of urban areas, providing only a small profit to local communities (Marrakech, Fez, etc); the development of cultural tourism and a controlled sustainable development of local resources may offer an alternative to mass tourism, which already destabilises societies in many urban environments.
Ecotourism is seen as a potential solution to these regions, and meets at the same time the needs of a growing tourist clientele, who seek to discover cultural and human aspects of their holidays and respect people and the environment. First developed mainly in the form of highly specialized products, ecotourism has been a growing success: travellers are increasingly demanding from operators and service providers to offer them sustainable ecotourism products without negative social effects. But to change attitudes the transfer and exchange of knowledge is urgently needed.
The campus- cooperation to involve Mediterranean young people to shape their own future
Organized by the European Group of Campuses since 1990, the Euro-Mediterranean Campus workshops are multidisciplinary and international field, serving a territory, involving a dozen students or young professionals around the Mediterranean.
Over the summers of 2008/ 2009 each of the chosen areas hosts a campus, dealing with an issue of local interest, proposed by the partner organisations.
These campuses will be linked, the growing network resulting in a wider dissemination for potential solutions. GEC and CME coordinate the campus network, help with the recruitment of participants and volunteers to assist local partners in the organisation of the campuses. They will also ensure the sharing and accumulation of the results of the campus.
The campus network will be the base for a network of ecotourism projects, developed in a spirit of solidarity and respect for natural and cultural environment. Each area will be a relay of information for other network members.
All involved parties benefit from the campuses
Participants are chosen cooperatively by the coordinating bodies, they are given a task and time limit to respond to the problem and to find potential solutions. They are obliged to give feedback and report to the host organisation and the local population. Supervised and educated by experts, knowledgeable about the problems and territory and following a curriculum developed in cooperation with the GEC, the participants acquire knowledge, practice and learn about methods and techniques of work in return for their voluntary involvement.
The region profits from the campus' concrete products results and returnable results: according to demand, a campus may result in the proposal and/or implementation of interpretive trails, educational tools, diagnosis and analyses, develop proposals for actions, etc. At the end of the campus participants can expect to have learnt to design a product, afterwards the host organisation is responsible for the transfer of all outcomes to the network and the regional partners.
Finally, the local population gains, because the campus is a communication tool between the participants and local people. The work reports and the sharing of the outcomes at the end of the campus with all involved local partners and authorities is proper prove of the dynamics initiated by the Campus.
Experience and Cooperation
The GEC has already organized and coordinated 4 campuses on the topic of ecotourism in 2004 and 2005. In Morocco, two campuses have allowed groups of students and young professionals to contribute to local development projects of ecotourism. In Lebanon and Tunisia two campuses in urban areas (Tyr, Tunis) have identified the potential development of a controlled cultural tourism in historic sites and centres of interest.
These campuses contributed to:
- Highlighting the local potentials
- Defining ecotourism processes by evaluating the regional potentials
- Participating in the definition of micro-assistance to local populations as part of a tourism
- Participating in the training of local people to host tourists
- Initiating a policy of enhancing communication on tourist sites, while promoting a responsible attitude and solidarity on the part of tourists
Finally, the two Moroccan campuses have produced two guide books for the ecotourism areas. One of these guide books was published in 2007.
Thanks to these campuses, local organizations are now able to offer a suitable product for tourists, by fulfilling their training needs, to host tourists and to use the right tools of communication to reach out to potential tourists.
Ecotourism in the PACA Region
As an association in the field of ecotourism GEC proposed that the PACA (Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur) Region actively cooperates with other Mediterranean countries to develop an Ecotourism concept, respecting local people and their natural and cultural environment. So, the GEC started to provide student groups around the Mediterranean an opportunity to conduct target orientated studies and actively participate in the development of ecotourism, mainly in territories already benefiting from the decentralized cooperation agreements with the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur (like Izmir).
|SPONSOR||LOCAL SPONSOR LOCAL SUPPORTER|