New tourism project shifts focus to guests’ role in protecting nature

In October 2023, the three-year Interreg project VaBene was launched with the goal of developing sustainable experience programmes aimed at directly protecting the distinctive natural environment in the Wadden Sea regions of Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark.

Traditionally, the tourism industry has considered nature as an attractive bonus for drawing in visitors. A novel initiative in the Danish-German Wadden Sea region is challenging this perspective. Rather than emphasising what nature can contribute to tourism, the project titled 'Visitor activation to Benefit nature and environment' (VaBene), part of the EU Interreg 6a programme, is redirecting attention towards what tourism can do for nature. The project is set to span from October 2023 to September 2026 and involves collaboration between the Danish Wadden Sea National Park, the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, WWF Germany, and Nordsee Tourismus Service GmbH, along with various network partners in both countries.

Presented to the trilateral Network Sustainable Tourism (NG-ST) in December 2023, the project received positive feedback for its output-oriented sub-goals. The connection to trilateral cooperation and partners via network partners (NP Lower Saxony and CWSS) was applauded, offering interested NG-ST members an opportunity to actively exchange information and reap benefits from the project outcomes.

Furthermore, the project envisions creating additional synergies by linking regional projects and activities to the trilateral STS Action plan. This includes collaboration with the new Interreg project “3ST: Speeding up Sustainability Skills in Tourism” initiated in November 2023.