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Testing of a new eco-tourism experience in the protected maritime area Cres - Lošinj (NATURA 2000) within the Interreg Mediterranean DestiMED PLUS project!

©MEET Network

At the end of September, experts in the field of tourism and environmental protection tested a new experience of ecotourism in the protected maritime area Cres - Lošinj (NATURA 2000). The multi-day innovative ecotourism package arrangement within the protected park was developed in an iterative process using the MEET Network's sustainable tourism measurement model as part of DestiMED PLUS - an EU-funded Interreg Med project aimed at sustainable tourism development in the Mediterranean.


Using the MEET model, unique cooperation was established between the protected maritime area Cres - Lošinj (NATURA 2000) and the ASL agency from Veli Lošinj to develop a high-quality ecotourism experience that aims to include tourists in the nature and culture of the park, while providing positive benefits to local people. and communities.


“DestiMED PLUS is a useful project that modern tourism needs and deserves. Behind us are almost two years of diligent and dedicated integrated planning and work that we have achieved together in participatory collaboration with national, other regional and local partners in tourism and sustainable development. I am glad that the protected maritime area Cres - Lošinj (NATURA 2000) was chosen as a pilot destination and included in another international project related to sustainable tourism development and as such will serve as a good example of a model of sustainable development and other protected areas and destinations, both in the area of ​​our County and in the whole of Croatia. The island of Lošinj as a green destination has long been following the latest trends in sustainable tourism development, which is why it is recognized as one of the most sustainable destinations in the world. I believe that DestiMED PLUS will be another added value from which Lošinj will get another great success. ” - said Petra Stijelja, advisor for project management and sustainable valorization of natural heritage of the Public Institution Nature of the Primorje - Gorski Kotar County, which manages the area.

The project manager for the Cres-Lošinj pilot area and one of the regional partners, the Institute for Tourism, together with the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Public Institution prepared a test of the created ecotourism package and invited 6 international testers from the Mediterranean to evaluate it. The mentioned examiners, who represent a combination of the target market and experts for sustainable tourism, were asked to valorize the quality, sustainability, and commercial sustainability of ecotourism in the destination.

The examiners were tasked to test and evaluate a carefully designed all-inclusive innovative eco-trip in the protected area of ​​Cres - Lošinj, which was created for the market of experienced, solvent, environmentally responsible, and adventurous middle-aged, English and German-speaking travelers who enjoy a combination of outdoor activities. and psychophysical recreation, local gastronomy, culture, nature and tradition, and interaction with the local population through a variety of creative workshops, experiences, and visits. These are very pleasant, grateful, and simple guests who love and are looking for sustainable, more remote, Mediterranean exotic destinations, who choose comfort over luxury, as well as quality before the price of a tourist service or product.

The name of the arrangement 'Rhythm of the senses of the island of Lošinj' was created in the desire to introduce guests to the true island rhythm that Lošinj breathes and lives during the rest of the year when it is not the peak of the tourist season. The rhythm of the senses alludes to all the variety of activities of the arrangement that can arouse and activate all the senses of tourists in the island rhythm - through sight (Sight Day), hearing (Sound Day), smell, and taste (Taste Day) and touch (Touch Day). With their arrival, such tourists extend the season and participate in the conservation of the protected area through responsible behavior and consumption of arrangements whose negative impact on the environment and local population is minimized, and whose income will be retained among the local population.


Some of the activities the examiners had to test were: a cooking class at a family restaurant, a visit to a fragrant garden and a herbarium workshop with local herbs picking local spices and tasting rooms, visiting the Apoxyomenos Museum as an aspect of local cultural value while enjoying Apoxyomenos' ancient dishes, kayaking, and diving on the island of Orjula that satisfy outdoor activities, enjoying a romantic sunset on Providence with a glass of local wine and local delicacies, education on sustainability at the Blue World Institute and dolphin watching, cycling and promenade walk along the Path of Vitality, picnic along the coast, etc.



The test is an important part of the MEET model and provides an opportunity to gather feedback and recommendations from various experts in sustainable tourism who assessed the quality and sustainability of the arrangement, which will later be used by the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Public Institution and the ASL Agency then it becomes available to B2B markets by the end of the project, in June 2022.

The examiners who participated in this part of the testing were:

  • Françoise Thurel, independent ecotourism expert, France
  • Gian Marco Marrosu, AIPTOC Senior Ecotourism Expert, Sardinia, Italy
  • Gloria Garcia Hoyo, Tragsa, S.A., Spain
  • Linda Botha, Walking and Wine, Lazio, Italy
  • Lola Guerrero, Astro Andalus, Spain
  • Vasiliki Madoulka, Region of Crete, Greece


"My first encounter with Croatia was amazing! Landing on the island is a physical and mental journey. The islands amazed me with the scents of Mediterranean scrub, pine resin, and salt. It was truly a "rhythm of the senses", a relaxing and exciting journey on which the beauty of nature merges with the history of its inhabitants and the statue of Apoxyomenos. Respect for nature, culture, local communities, and history is more important today than ever before. Responsible travel and positive impact on the environment and local communities is an interesting experience: enjoy an ecotourism trip! "- he said is Gian Marco Marrosu, from Sardinia (Italy).



"I would describe Park Cres-Lošinj as a destination where, wherever you turn your head, you see something amazing and different!" - Vasiliki Madoulka, Crete (Greece).


The quality of the project is also reflected in the fact that protected areas (parks) are placed in the foreground, and not tourist places. Namely, in 2014, the Cres-Lošinj area was declared an area of ​​importance for the community (SCI) within the NATURA 2000 ecological network of the European Union, mainly due to the establishment of a special zoological reserve for bottlenose dolphins. Apart from the fact that this Natura 2000 area is based on probably the richest set of scientific data in Croatia, it is also important for the Mediterranean population of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), Mediterranean endemic - Posidonia oceanica, coralligenous biocenoses, and sea urchin nesting. Phalacrocorax aristotelis). During the research conducted in this area, 152 species of marine flora and 303 species of marine invertebrates (7 strictly protected and 9 protected), and 112 species of fish (19 of which are considered endangered in Croatia) were documented. Apart from the important natural heritage, this area also has a significant cultural heritage. In 1999, near the islet of Orjula, in the very center of this Natura 2000 area, an original Greek statue was found, a replica of Lysippus' Apoxyomenos of inestimable value. This bronze statue is exhibited in the Museum of Apoxyomenos in Mali Lošinj. The Blue World Institute operates in this area as an independent and non-profit organization established to conduct scientific research, education, and activities to protect the marine environment.



About DestiMED PLUS project:

Ecotourism respects the resources of a protected area (PA) destination and the well-being of the people living in and around it while providing incentives to preserve and work out of season. For this model of sustainable development to be a viable alternative in protected areas in the Mediterranean, enabling governance and policy-making conditions need to be strengthened to strike a balance between the sometimes conflicting interests of the conservation and tourism sectors.

DestiMED PLUS is the next step on the path to promoting integrated planning in coastal tourism, where regional policymakers implement comprehensive policies that link tourism to conservation. It will do this by jointly developing ecotourism itineraries in Mediterranean Protected Areas (PAs), as a concrete example of the application of the ICZM protocol.

The project builds on the success of MEET and DestiMED and will support 9 Mediterranean regions and relevant protected areas by strengthening cross-sectoral local and regional policies, improving integrated planning strategies, and providing stakeholders with effective training and tools to manage, measure, and promote ecotourism.


#DESTIMEDPLUS @InterregMED @MEDSustainableTourism @institutzaturizam #ecotourism #eco #interregeurope #tourismdevelopment


Public institution Nature of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County:

Petra Stijelja: 


Institute of Tourism:

Izidora Marković Vukadin:
Sara Melkić: 



Arnau Teixidor: 
Natalie Beckett: