An awareness campaign organised by the Romanian-Bulgarian Cross Border Cooperation programme for sustainable tourism is advocating environmental management for SMEs in the tourism sector. A five day EMAS and EU Ecolabel expert training was held from the 8th to 12th of July in Albena, Bulgaria. The training was organised in the framework of a cross-border project promoting sustainable tourism practices in the border regions of Constanţa (Romania) and Dobrich (Bulgaria). The development of sustainable tourism is one pillar of the Romania-Bulgaria Cross Border Cooperation programme (2007-2013) which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
The training was attended by a team of 15 persons from the project's three partner organisations: the Dobrich Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Development Institute and Mare Nostrum, a Romanian environmental NGO. Conducted by environmental consultants from 21 Solutions, a Brussels-based consultancy, and the Stockholm Environment Institute's Tallinn Center, the workshop informed participants about EMAS implementation and the criteria of the EU Eco-Label for tourism accommodations.
They were also given the opportunity to "experiment" with environmental management practices on the basis of a real case study.
The expert training was followed by a two day awareness raising campaign for the Romanian and Bulgarian Black Sea hotel sector. The Dobrich-Constanta cross border region is one the richest areas in biodiversity in Europe and its long beaches and attractive coastline have drawn an increasing number of international and domestic visitors to the area in the last years. However, the rapid development of tourism infrastructure has created considerable pressure on the natural environment through uncontrolled disposal of waste and wastewater and the over-consumption of energy, water and some food resources.
The Albena Hotel Resorts, where the two events were held, is a major Black Sea resort in northeastern Bulgaria. Albena is a vast complex of more than 40 hotels and 20 000 beds located 100 to 200 meters from the beach. The good management of the beaches has already been awarded the Blue Flag, and some hotels have begun to implement some green practices. But a larger awareness raising campaign on sustainability is needed and the cross-border programme is planning to widely promote EMAS and EU Eco-Label among tourism sector SMEs in the area, as a systematic approach to lowering the resorts' environmental footprint.
Visit the website of the Romanian-Bulgarian Cross Border Cooperation programme's sustainable tourism project: http://greenwebportal.eu/ and the project's Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/TourismRoBg