Project Overview

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Background, Goal and Objectives

In 2002, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published the Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Planning and Management (Sustainable Tourism BPG hereafter), through the World Commission on Protected Areas’ (WCPA) Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series. This report was a revision of a 1992 set of guidelines, published by IUCN, UNEP, and the World Tourism Organization (WTO). The 2002 Sustainable Tourism BPG sought to increase understanding of protected areas tourism in theoretical and practical ways, with a goal of ensuring that tourism contributes to, and does not undermine, the purposes of protected areas. This 183-page document addressed the history, evaluation, planning, development, economics, management, and scientific aspects of protected area tourism. This report has been well-used by protected area stakeholders globally, is well-cited in the literature, and has helped support many decision makers.

Since the 2002 edition was published much has changed in the field of protected area tourism with respect to visitation characteristics, governance, policy initiatives, science and technology, natural resource conditions and other important topics. It is crucial to update the Sustainable Tourism BPG after ten years to ensure that research, theoretical frameworks, planning and management strategies, case studies, and recommendations reflect the most current state of knowledge.

The goal of this project is to revise the 2002 Sustainable Tourism BPG document and produce the Third Edition so that it is more relevant to protected area stakeholders globally in the 2010s and beyond. This revision will incorporate new research, update the theoretical frameworks presented, use current case studies, and develop guidelines and recommendations relevant to the next 10-15 years. The specific objectives are:

  1. To update the background information used to develop the current best practices guidelines;
  2. To engage WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS) members and other stakeholders of protected area tourism in enhancing the contents and utility of the guidelines; and
  3. To publish the protected area tourism guidelines through the WCPA’s Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series.


Project Activities

  • First project workshop at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress, Jeju, South Korea
  • Second project workshop at the 2013 George Wright Society Conference, Denver, Colorado, USA
  • Book launch at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney, Australia


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