The BSPC Working Group on Sustainable Tourism held its inaugural meeting in Rostock on 13 November.
The meeting was chaired by the newly-elected WG Vice-Chairman Sara Kemetter from the Aland parliament. The meeting furthermore appointed Andre Sepp from the Estonian parliament as second Vice Chairman of the group.
Expert presentations were held on opportunities of sustainable tourism in the Baltic Sea Region, an overview of the development of the Baltic Sea Tourism Forum, and the priority area “Tourism” in the context of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
The members were provided a comprehensive overview of the topic by the German Economics Institute for Tourism (dwif). The expert underlined the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability in tourism and provided the meeting with a host of examples for demand for sustainable products and services in tourism. However, the expert did stress that there are obstacles to overcome, e.g. additional costs, lack of added-value and/or comfort, incomplete information or non-reliable sustainability logos. Regarding existing approaches in the Baltic Sea Region with a view to sustainable tourism, the expert highlighted the heterogeneity. The expert called on the members to find a common understanding of sustainable tourism.
This point was further discussed by the second expert who briefed the WG on milestones of the Baltic Sea Tourism Forum, which among others strives to identify common approaches in tourism in the Baltic Sea Region.
Lastly, the WG was briefed on the priority area “Tourism” in the context of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, which aims to establish the Baltic Sea Region as a common and coherent tourism destination.
A vivid discussion ensued, among others regarding the profitability of sustainable tourism, incentives for going green, the branding of the Baltic Sea as a tourist destination, and the inclusion of the private sector into tourism strategies. The presentations can be retrieved on the WG webpage. The meeting was primarily devoted to a reconfirmation of the WG mandate and deliberations over its scope of work, priorities and mode of work.