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The European Ecotourism Knowledge Network (ECOLNET) is a 3-year project 2010-2013) co-financed by the European Commission, Lifelong Learning Programme, Transversal Programmes, Key Activity 3 – ICT Networks.

ECOLNET has a dual aim: a) to create an Ecotourism network to bring together a variety of stakeholders and b) to develop innovative evaluation tools and learning products for sharing knowledge among the network and facilitating quality certification through the European Ecotourism Labelling Standard (EETLS). The EETLS was developed by two previous Leonardo da Vinci projects in compliance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria of Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

 

Objectives

  • Create a network based on a “community of interest”, the European Ecotourism Network, bringing together the stakeholders of ecotourism and sustainable tourism, with a focus on quality standards.
  • Create an integrated methodology for evaluating quality standards of ecotourism services that allows mutual learning between the main stakeholders, i.e, quality labelling agencies, expert evaluators who perform the quality assessment and tourism businesses.
  • Introduce a set of practical, cost-effective online evaluation tools for assessing compliance with quality standards; and create online learning tools to train the main stakeholders to use them.
  • Create career opportunities for tourism professionals and employment prospects for SME staff in the ecotourism and sustainable tourism fields.
  • Enrich the curricula of higher education and vocational training institutions in tourism departments with innovative content and learning tools.

 

Products and Results

EETLS
A revised and updated version of EETLS and a Handbook for its application

Quality standards assessment tools
A report on existing quality assessment procedures in the field of sustainable tourism, including competence needs and learning provision; and online tools for quality standards assessment, based on EETLS

Learning support
E-learning packages to support the application of the online evaluation tools and conduct of pilot tests in at least 9 countries followed by an e-seminar to discuss the results. A helpdesk and a Handbook facilitate the process.

Networking
The European Ecotourism Network – EEN has been set up as the main vehicle for achieving the objectives of the project and disseminating its products. Networking is being further supported by a virtual community of interest, 9 national workshops in different European countries, and an international conference in 2013.EEN aims to ensure long-term sustainability, contributing to a genuine conservation and sustainability effort.

 


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