Cooperation with enterprises belonging to receptivity and enogastronomic sectors, organization of events, ecotourism networking for specific tourist groups
Before 1993 (the birth year of the LIPU Nature Reserve of Casacalenda) there was no activity related to tourism, nor a significant production and diffusion of local products. The Casacalenda City Council was aware about the richness of its natural heritage and identified the LIPU Association as sectorial expertise able to give support for a devolopment plan able to ensure nature preservation and its exploitation for tourist aims as well. The establishment of the Nature Reserve was a strategical starting point for an integrated plan of support for the start-up of socio-economical activities linked to territories characteristics, such as organic food and agritourism. The Visitor Centre of the Nature Reserve played an active role on promoting such economic activities giving information and distributing promotional leaflets about local enterprises. It has established a mutual and uninformal cooperation process, that is actually ongoing, between the Nature Reserve and enterprises considering that the Nature Reserve promotes local products and receptivity services while local enterprises bring their customers to the Reserve. The main beneficiaries of the practice are local enterprises, students, universities researchers and stakeholders involved in the Nature Reserve activities were local associations of volunteers, public administrations such as Province of Campobasso, Molise Region and LIPU Nature Reserves network
The establishment of the Visitors Centre received a public contribution (structural funds) from Molise Region of 20.000 Euro and the ordinary managemenet of the Nature Reserve activities received a yearly contribution of 14.000 Euro by Casacalenda Municipality.
Evidence of success
The cooperation with local private entities who deal with receptivity and enogastronomic sectors have strongly increased, and we work closely together. A University survey (2006) estimated that the village benefits of 24.000 € per year by various tourism incoming related to our reserve. Two farm guesthouses were born and two B&B, welcoming now hundreds of tourists every year. Actually nearly 500 people each year (among the reserve visitors) use local tourist facilities and buy local products.
The main challenge was to create awareness on the importance of creating a nature reserve, in a period in which the new information technologies were not widespread and therefore it was necessary a presence and physical movements on the territory to create the consent around to our initiatives.
Potential for learning or transfer
The experience of LIPU as regards the Nature Reserve of Casacalenda and its contribution to the development of ecotourism could be transferred to every new protected area that have specific natural attractions that have the needed support of a public authority. The basic development key-driver was the biodiversity characterizing the area, that requires a strong communication activity. So in European regions having such characteristic our experience could be easily transferred. Another strategic aspect that could be transferred it is the approach in the cooperation process of the Reserve's operators with local enterprises (mutual promotion).
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