Joining forces on visitor management: call for interest
Natural areas are a highly appreciated destination for a variety of recreational activities. Some of these are harmless to their surroundings but others have an environmental impact and are disturbing nature. Activities can cause noise pollution and create pressure on the area and its fragile biodiversity. All in all, more than enough reasons for site managers to define strategies and take measures for sustainably hosting visitors in their natural areas and parks. All these strategies can be captured and defined under the title of visitor management.
Since the topic of visitor management is a theme many Eurosite members are dealing with, several members have joined forces over the last few years, especially regarding the impact of the COVID pandemic and the management of visitors during these times. They have done so in the Eurosite Twinning ‘Conservation and recreation in a post-lockdown society’. Out of this cooperation came the need to share the experiences in the handling of visitors more widely. The Eurosite Management Planning Expert Group raised a similar need. Therefore, a well-attended webinar to address this topic was organised on 16 November 2021, after which we concluded there is a need to further explore the topic of visitor management within the network.
In the upcoming months we intend to broaden the Twinning towards a formal Eurosite Working Group, exploring several subjects that are related to visitor management, translated in the following questions:
- What are the qualities of natural areas and how can we open/offer them to visitors?
- How to organise and control appropriate access to natural sites?
- What information should be given to visitors at which moments?
- What is the economic value of nature-based tourism and how does it affect/stimulate regional economies?
- What are useful techniques for monitoring visitor flows, environmental impacts, and carrying capacity?
- How should visitor management be organised with other (regional) partners?
There will most likely be more issues that will come up once we start sharing practices within Eurosite. Currently, we are looking for anyone who is willing to share experiences, best practices, but also challenges you are trying to tackle with your international colleagues. Please feel free to join our first rounds of meetings during which we further explore the subject and together will write a work programme for the next years, a process that is open to all suggestions and is question and problem driven.
You are more than welcome to partake in this group that is about to broaden its scope to create the Eurosite Working Group on ‘Visitor Management’. Please show your interest by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The initial Twinning partners include the Hunting Federation of Macedonia and Thrace, KOMATH (Greece), the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority (Romania), WWF Oasi (Italy), Society for the Coast – EUCC Poland (Poland), Natural Resources Wales (United Kingdom), and IDDBO (Netherlands).