EU Leonardo da Vinci Programme

n 1997, the research New competencies for sustainable tourism in protected areas was carried out; it was financed by the European Union in the framework of the "Leonardo da Vinci Program". The objective of this program is to help and complete the actions aimed at improving the quality of job training policies, in order to identify new learning methodologies. Four national teams (Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain) took part in the research. Its designing and central scientific coordination were guaranteed by the University of Rome "La Sapienza", Sociology Department, Chair of Environmental Sociology. At the basis of the research there are the following expectations:

  • Tourism will increase more and more its feature as a mass phenomenon at a world-wide socio-economical system level;
  • In the framework of tourist resources, a growing success of environmental tourist resources will take place;
  • The various types of protected areas will play a more and more central role in the system of naturalistic-tourist offer.

A problem of intelligent management of tourist flows in the protected areas has started for some time; this problem need the design and implementation of adequate actions to consider tourist activities as socio-economically desirable events and, simultaneously, as actions characterized by no or low environmental impacts. This last requisite needs a strong professionalization process of all the operators working inside and around the protected areas.



This desirable prospect was the basis for the identification of the following cognitive objectives:

  • Highlight the professional functions that, in the context of the European protected areas, may guarantee both the economical and social development and a low environmental impact of tourist and natural resources;
  • Describe the specific competencies of these professional functions that are asked by the society to carry out peculiar activities such as the above-mentioned ones.
  • A critical identification of the training needs coming out from the definition of the above-mentioned professional functions.
  • Give, in this way, a knowledge basis (it could be defined as a pre-project basis) for the training project.

The results of the various interviews carried out in Italy and in Europe both by experts of tourism in the protected areas and by visitors of these areas indicated that the park directors, environmental education directors and rangers/ guides are the people with the largest responsibilities for a correct tourist fruition. The processes needed to complete the training of these professionals in a "tourist way" were defined. From the professional profiles come out during the research, it appears that training is not only based on some specific professional competencies, but it also has to consider psychological and sociological competencies to allow the development, for instance, of communication abilities and the capability to work in group.
Moreover, the research allowed to highlight other professional functions already working in the European park areas, such as local development agents, marketing experts of the protected area, environmental designers and managers of tourist impacts (traffic, transportation, etc) that may give a very valuable contribution to develop a kind of tourism with a low impact in our protected areas.

Aspromonte N.P.: trekking

Gennargentu N.P.:
shepard's cabin

  • University of Rome "La Sapienza", Sociology Department (Italy);
  • Eures (Germany);
  • Uncpie (France);
  • Cranfield University (United Kindom).
Cilento N.P.: Punta Tresino:
ruins of a colonic house
EU Leonardo da Vinci Programme