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State Secretary for Tourism opens 2nd National Ecotourism Conference

Tuesday 7 November 2017
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Ministerio de Agricultura y pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente

The State Secretary for Tourism, Matilde Asián, opened the 2nd National Ecotourism Conference on Tuesday, which is being held in Guadalupe (Caceres, Spain) from 7 to 9 November.

​Organised by the State Secretariat of Tourism, the Provincial Council of Caceres, the Regional Government of Extremadura and the Ecotourism Club in Spain, this event is the most important ecotourism conference in Spain and brings together close on 200 professionals from the sector, including representatives from regional tourism authorities, associations, ecotourism micro-enterprises, specialised travel agencies, universities and rural development groups.

The main goal at the conference is to examine the current situation and adoption status of the recommendations made in the Daimiel Declaration. This declaration was signed at the 1st National Ecotourism Conference in November 2016 and defines ecotourism as "travelling to a natural area to discover it, learn about it, enjoy it and explore it while appreciating and making a practical contribution to its conservation without generating impacts on the environment and having a positive effect on the local population". At the event, which includes various lectures and round-table discussions, the best practices developed over the period will also be presented, the difficulties encountered will be analysed and a conclusions document will be drawn up containing a roadmap for continued progress in this field.

The State Secretary for Tourism stressed that ecotourism represents a unique opportunity to stimulate society, business and the economy in poorer natural and rural areas with structural limitations to generating economic activity, retaining their population and conserving their natural heritage. Furthermore, she recalled that 27% of Spain is protected and that the country is a recognised powerhouse in terms of biodiversity: it is the world leader in Biosphere Reserves (10.9% of the national territory, which equates to over 5.5 million hectares), the world leader in Protected Natural Areas (1,769 hectares) and second in terms of Geoparks.

The State Secretary believes that the ecotourism product in Spain is also helping to diversify the Spanish tourism offer by creating new tourism experiences in the rural environment, especially in areas where only rural tourism and active tourism had been developed to date. Ecotourism has great potential for growth in Spain and the ability to improve the Spain brand by attracting new markets as they gradually discover Spain's rich biodiversity and extensive areas of protected land.

Mindful of the importance fostering this type of sustainable tourism, the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and the Digital Agenda and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs signed a partnership agreement in July of this year to foster the ecotourism product within the National Parks Network and Spanish Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Furthermore, the State Secretariat of Tourism recently signed an agreement with the Ecotourism Club to launch an Ecotourism Product Watchdog in Spain, which will encourage public-private cooperation for the purpose of producing indicators and data on the socio-economic repercussions from this area of tourism.

Non official translation