Ways of sustainable recovery of tourism in protected areas such as the Wadden Sea at the digital ITB Berlin

The transnational Interreg project “Prowad Link – Protect and Prosper” will be represented at the biggest tourism trade fair in the world, the ITB, which will take place digitally this year. The project encompasses the pilot regions of the Danish-Dutch-German Wadden Sea World Heritage, The Wash/ North Norfolk Coast (UK) and the Geiranger Fjord World Heritage (NO). Its aim is to unlock the potential of natural areas for sustainable development – a topic, which is also the main focus of a panel discussion held by the project partners at the ITB Convention on Tuesday, 9 March, at 14:00.

Under the motto “Building back better – Investing in Natural Heritage Assets for Sustainable Tourism Development” a panel of experts representing the pilot regions of Prowad Link discuss at the ITB Convention the opportunities toward more sustainable development that arise from the current state of the tourism sector. The panellists are Else Ragni of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Alex Larter of Norfolk County Council, Phillip Eke of Visit West Norfolk, Anja Szczesinski of WWF Germany and Joke Pouliart, mudflat guide and entrepreneur from East Frisia. An important addition to the ITB stage is Mahmoud Sarhan of the Abu Ghosoun Community Development Association, who was recently asked to give insights on this topic to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Different market research suggests that post-COVID-19 people will seek out even more adventure travel, natural spaces, safe and quality experiences,” says Anja Domnick, Prowad Link Project Officer at the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS). “Natural heritage sites can be powerful and inspiring destinations for innovation and sustainable development. Thus we should look at plausible scenarios and create action plans that work towards sustainable tourism. With Prowad Link we look at exactly this ‘nature-business-benefit-cycle’.” The project aims to increase revenue from sustainable offers, support nature conservation, promote investment in sustainability and create long-term collaborations together with small and medium sized enterprises.

At the virtual trade fair, the Prowad Link project partners focus on showcasing sustainable travel through examples from the represented countries. The online networking tool for making appointments has been activated. Interested trade visitors are invited to get in touch during the trade fair days for speed networking, individual and group discussions. Prowad Link additionally offers a free guest ticket to make appointments with the registered partners from the Wadden Sea World Heritage, The Wash/ North Norfolk Coast and the Geiranger Fjord World Heritage (www.itb.com; voucher code: ITBNOW-HRU2VGCUAEUGLPA3).

The ITB participation is organised in the framework of the Prowad Link project. 14 project partners in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom work with interested SMEs to develop new, sustainable products and offers in the pilot regions of the Wadden Sea (DK, D, NL), Geiranger Fjord (NO), Wash & North Norfolk Coast (UK). The 3-year project is co-funded by and carried out in the framework of the Interreg North Sea Region Programme under the Programme Priority 1 “Thinking Growth”. The programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union.