What is overtourism in protected areas and what can we do about it?


Rising visitor use levels in tourism destinations over the last several years have caught residents and managers off-guard, leading to potentially significant social and biophysical impacts. This condition has been termed “overtourism”, but has been previously known by other terms such as “over use” and “over crowded.” Concern about this situation has a long history in protected area management. Regardless of the term, the concerns about impacts have legitimate foundations. Resolving this problem will require a better understanding of it first, before proposing simplified solutions.

As a collaboration between the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist GroupEcotourism GenuinoPUP Global Heritage Consortium and the 10 YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme, a webinar was held on 3 November 2017 on the topic of ‘Overtourism in protected areas’. The webinar  was designed to build awareness of the challenges of high levels of visitor use in protected areas, review what has lead to this challenge, and to suggest a way forward.

Moderator: Dr. Anna Spenceley (IUCN WCPA TAPAS Group), Mr. Allan Rhodes Espinoza (Ecoturismo Genuino)

Speakers: Mr. Jon Kohl (PUP Global Heritage Consortium), Dr. Stephen McCool (University of Montana)

Participants: 131 (77 women, 54 men)

Final agenda: Conference on Sustainable Tourism in SIDS – 22-24 November, Seychelles

22-24 November 2017 (Conference), 25-26 November 2017 (Field visits)

SIDS_Conference_PosterIn the framework of the 2017 UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development this conference wishes to provide a platform for tourism professionals, academics and practitioners from other SIDS and the region to discuss an integrated practical approach to sustain-able tourism in SIDS. For this event, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF), and the University of Seychelles (Department of Tourism and Cultural Heritage) partnered up with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS group), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Paris Tourism Sorbonne Institute of Research and Higher Education in Tourism (IREST), to organize a regional conference on sustainable tourism in SIDS, which will combine academic tourism re-search with practical best practice examples. The conference aims at connecting the various stakeholders working and researching the environmental and socio-cultural development of the tourism industry, for constructive discussions and networking.


Register here


Wednesday 22 November 2017

15:00-18:00 Registrations, Meet & Greet, UniSey campus, Anse Royale

Day 1: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time Activity Presenter/facilitator
Opening of the conference
8.00 – 8.30 Official opening and welcome  Bernice Elizabeth
Ministerial Opening Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Mr  Dogley

Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Mr Loustau-Lalanne

Aim and objectives of the meeting, overview of participants, agenda and field visits Diana Koerner
Session 1: Keynote presentations: (F) Bernice Elizabeth
8.30 – 9.00 Keynote: A global view of sustainable tourism Randy Durband
9.00 – 9.30 Keynote: Sustainable tourism in protected areas Dr. Anna Spenceley
9.30 – 10.00 Keynote: Social responsibility and sustainable tourism in SIDS Dr. Madina Regnault
10.00 – 10.30 Tea/coffee
Session 2: Evaluation of financial and economic benefits of tourism in protected areas (F) Kelly Hoareau
10.30 – 10.45 Tourism-induced contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals: insights from Jozani – Chwaka Bay National Park and Biosphere Reserve, Zanzibar/Tanzania Florian Carius (Germany)
10.45 – 11.00 Manta Rays, Communities and Tourism: Yap’s manta sanctuary as a partnership experiment José Truda Palazzo (Micronesia)
11.00 – 11.15 Can sustainable tourism create and manage Marine Parks? Sergio Chiarandini (Tanzania)
11.15 – 11.30 The reality of providing communities with socio-economic benefits in a coastal protected area in South Africa Prof. Felicité A. Fairer-Wessels (South Africa)
11.30 – 11.45 Q&A
11.45 – 12.30 Plenary debate: What are the best ways of measuring financial and economic benefits of tourism in protected areas? (F) Kelly Hoareau
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch
Session 3: Destination management and the application of standards and certification tools for protected areas (F) Randy Durband
1.30 – 1.45 Tourism certification in Africa Dr. Anna Spenceley (Seychelles)
1.45 – 2.00 Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) Janice Bristol (Seychelles)
2.00 – 2.15 Using private-public partnerships to develop sustainable agro-tourism: the Sao Tomé and Principe Michele Maccari (Sao Tomé ad Príncipe)
2.15 – 2.30 Oceans without Borders: &Beyond’s pioneering Marine conservation initiative. Prof. Kevin Mearns (South Africa)
2.30-2.40 Q&A
2.40 – 3.00 Plenary debate: Certification and standards – what is the return on investment for tour operators and destinations? (F) Randy Durband
3.00 – 3.30 Tea/coffee
Session 4: Impacts on biodiversity of protected area tourism (F) Dr Ashton Berry
3.30 – 3.45 Impacts of voluntourism in the Cap Ternay Marine Park Josie Woodgate (Seychelles)
3.45 – 4.00 Sustaining healthy corals in Tumon Bay Marine Preserve: How is Guam’s tourism epicenter coping with climate change? Dr. Laurie J. Raymundo (Guam)
4.00 – 4.15 Impacts of human use on coral health in the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve, Guam Whitney C. Hoot (Guam)
4.15 – 4.30 Hotel establishment and Protected Area Management: Opportunities and potential Hervé Atayi (UK)
4.30 – 4.45 Q&A
4.45 Closure of Day 1


Day 2: Friday 24 November 2017

Time Activity Presenter/facilitator
Opening of Day 2
8.00 – 8.30 Overview of Day 1
Agenda for Day 2
Logistics for field trips (Day 3-4)
Dr. Anna Spenceley /Dr. Madina Regnault /Diana Koerner
Session 5: Tourism concessions and partnerships (F) Dr. Anna Spenceley
8.30 – 8.45 The prospects for environmentally sustainable tourism in New Zealand’s National Parks- testing a concessions-focused theory of regulation Valentina Dinica (New Zealand)
8.45 – 9.00 Protect and Prosper: World Heritage and Tourism in the Wadden Sea Anja Domnick (Germany)
9.00 – 9.15 A Public Private Partnership model for Ecotourism Development in Wadi el Gemal National Park in Egypt Mahmoud Sarhan (Egypt)
9.15 – 9.30 Q&A
9.30 – 10.00 Plenary discussion: What are the ingredients for successful concessions and partnerships? (F) Dr. Anna Spenceley
10.00 – 10.30 Tea/coffee
Session 6: Community-benefits and socio-economic linkages from protected area tourism Bruce Downie
10.30 – 10.45 Antigua and Barbuda’s contribution to Sustainable Tourism initiatives that link culture and Heritage meeting CBD targets Ruth Spencer (Antigua)
10.45 – 11.00 Benefits and Costs Experienced by Communities living next to Amboseli National Park and Kimana Conservancy in Kenya Dr. Margaret Wachu Gichuhi (Kenya)
11.00 – 11.15 An Investigation into Community Fishing Practices around Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania Prof. Kevin Mearns (South Africa)
11.15 – 11.30 The Hunting Ban and its Aftermath: The case of Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity Prof. Joseph E. Mbaiwa (Botswana)
11.30 – 11.40 Q&A
11.40 – 12.10 Plenary debate:   Best practices in community benefits from tourism in protected areas  (F) Bruce Downie
12.00 – 12.10 Video presentation: Wildlife FriendlyTM Tourism Certification as a Conservation Tool for Biodiversity in Small Island Developing States Marissa Altman
12.10 – 12.30 Video presentation:   Anthropological approaches of tourism in SIDS Prof. Thomas Ericsson
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch
Session 7:

Sensitization and Awareness: Tools and best practices to involve local populations and tourists in sustainable tourism

(F) Dr. Madina Regnault
1.30 – 1.45 Video presentation : Sustainable Tourism? Be my guest! – The case of Aruba’s Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort Francielle A. Laclé (Aruba)


1.45 – 2.00 The Impact of Environmental Degradation & Community Involvement Ehad Bhaukaurally
2.00 – 2.15 Social impacts of the Solid Waste & Tourism issues: how to involve locals and tourists alike in sustainable waste management. Katharina Raab & Prof. Ralf Wagner (Germany)
2.15 – 2.30 Using pre-dive briefings to change tourist diver behavior in Guam, Mariana Islands Ashton Williams (Guam)
2.30 – 2.45 We can make a difference…#AnseForbans Lisa Laporte-Booyse (Seychelles)
2.45 – 3.00 Q&A  
3.00 – 3.30 Tea/coffee
Session 8: Round table

Employment and Training in Sustainable Tourism: Tools to Reduce Poverty in SIDS

 (F) Frederick Thomas
3.30 – 3.45 Introduction

Sustainable Tourism as a Tool for Employment and Reducing Poverty in SIDS

Frederick Thomas (France)
3.45 – 4.00 Video presentation: Sustainable Tourist Destinations from a Human Resources Perspective: The Role of Green Jobs Prof. Adele Ladkin (UK)
4.00 – 4.15 Using SOCMON as a Tool to Involve Islanders in Develop Community Based Tourism and Provide Need Based Training to Foster Sustainable Product Enhancement Dr. Vineeta Hoon (India)
4.15 – 4.30 Approach and Processes Developed by the Indian Ocean Commission for Sustainable Tourism in Indian Ocean Véronique Espitalier-Noël (Mauritius)
4.30 – 4.45 Questions and conclusions of round table Frederick Thomas (France)
4.45 Closure of Day 2
7 pm Gala dinner at AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort

Keynote: Daniella Payet, Founder Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation
Keynote: Joelle Perreau, Dean of Arts and Social Development, University of Seychelles


Field Trips 

Saturday 25 November: Visit to Cousin Island Special Reserve, Nature Seychelles
Sunday 26 November: Option 1: Visit to Constance Ephelia Resort, Port Launay, Mahe
Sunday 26 November: Option 2: Visit to Cerf Island, Sainte Anne Marine National Park

An initiative contributing to


Tourism concession guidelines: now in French and Spanish on CBD website

Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: Generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development

Cover CBD 2 Sept 2017

The aim of these guidelines is to provide information to support protected area authorities to achieve sustainable tourism operations in their protected areas; to bring benefits to conservation and other purposes for which the protected area has been declared; and to avoid or mitigate negative impacts.
English: Web (7MB)Print (30MB)
Español: Web (6MB)Print (30MB)
Français: Web (6MB)Print (30MB)


World Tourism Day – Sustainable Tourism, a tool for development – 27 September 2017

WTD logo

This year World Tourism Day is particularly special, as it falls within the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.   In the spirit of raising awareness on sustainable tourism, here are some recent and forthcoming events and resources that could be of interest.

Forthcoming events:

New publications: 

For more information on these publications and items, please contact Dr Anna Spenceley on annaspenceley@gmail.com

#WTD2017 #IY2017




New guidance on tourism concessions for protected areas released

All CBD logos 2 Sept

  • Guidelines help protected area authorities develop concessions and partnerships allowing them to contribute financially and technically to conservation
  • Many countries currently underuse tourism as means to contribute to the financial sustainability of protected areas.

14 September 2017 – The Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today released a new publication titled Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development.

Cover CBD 2 Sept 2017Designed to support protected area authorities and the private sector in their development and use of tourism partnerships and concessioning to contribute financially and technically to biodiversity conservation, the guidelines are geared towards protected area authorities, ministries of environment and tourism, policy experts and interested enterprises. The aim is to enhance the level of financial resources available for conservation management obtained from tourism concessions and partnerships

The tourism sector is recognized as being the largest global market-based contributor to the financing of protected area systems in many countries. In 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD noted that, under appropriate safeguards, tourism can contribute to protected areas through partnerships and concessions. However, most countries currently underuse tourism as a means to contribute towards the financial sustainability of protected areas. The new guidelines aim to assist countries in addressing this gap.

Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, said: “This ground-breaking publication supports a decision by Parties to the Convention to build the capacity of national and subnational park and protected area agencies to engage in partnerships with the tourism sector to complement public budgetary allocations towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.” The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20 time-bound, measurable targets to be met by the year 2020.

Prepared in the framework of an agreement between the CBD Secretariat and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and released at the 22nd Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly (UNWTO) in Chengdu, China, the publication includes information on the fundamentals of tourism, different tourism partnerships, financing concessions, a step-by-step guide to concession processes, integrating sustainability, contract management and concession capacity requirements.

The guidelines were developed as part of a project called “Tourism partnerships and concessions in protected areas: Cooperating for success”, executed on behalf of the CBD Secretariat by three members of the Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group) of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas: Dr Anna Spenceley, Dr Sue Snyman, and Professor Paul Eagles.  Government representatives from the ministries of tourism and environment, protected area agencies, and tourism boards in Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe contributed to the guidelines. Representatives of the CBD, International Finance Corporation, UN World Tourism Organisation and other members of the TAPAS Group also provided input.


Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of the TAPAS Group, said: “Our collaborative guideline development process has resulted in an informative tool that builds on previous experience and guidance, and is practical and easy-to-use, which is relevant for protected area managers. We are proud to contribute this advice in the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

Funding for the project was provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Bio-Bridge Initiative. The publication also serves as a contribution to the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP).

An initiative contributing to


Available online: “Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development”


For more information:

Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of the TAPAS Group, annaspenceley@gmail.com
Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS): http://planeta.wikispaces.com/tapas
World Tourism Organization: http://www2.unwto.org/
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): www.iucn.org/
10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme: http://sdt.unwto.org/sustainable-tourism-10yfp

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties so far, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing are supplementary agreements to the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force on 11 September 2003, seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 171 Parties have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and to date has been ratified by 101 Parties. For more information visit: http://www.cbd.int. For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at david.ainsworth@cbd.int; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int.


The Responsible Tourist: Highlighted in the 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Program magazine

The Responsible Tourist, written by Anna Spenceley and Andrew Rylance, has been highlighted in an article of the new 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme’s annual magazine.

To access the magazine, and the other articles included, click here.

R tourist 10YFP

An initiative contributing to: