• “The economy of Spain’s areas in the vicinity of nature tourism has seen a positive evolution”
  • “Wildlife observation tourism has become an economic activity that has an impact mainly on the hospitality industry”
  •  “The message of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA) at this FITUR staging is “travel around Spain’s flavours and landscapes’, reinforced through different scheduled events” 

Which natural resources does Spain have?

Spain is Europe’s most biologically diverse country, known to be the home to some 85,000 species. Of all the European countries, we contribute the largest surface area to the Natura 2000 network (occupying 27.8% of our territory). It is also calculated that Spain is inhabited by 30% of all of Europe’s endemisms.

According to the habitats directive, we have 118 of the 217 terrestrial habitats of EU interest; and 3 of the world’s 11 major marine ecosystems are represented in our country. More than 54% of Europe’s animal species and more than 5% of the world’s are present in this territory. Not forgetting that our forests can capture 14-19% of the total CO2 we produce. Obviously, with such important biological wealth, it is also the European country with the highest number of endangered species.

What is the country’s situation in regard to national parks?

The network comprises the 15 current parks that define virtually all of the natural systems covered by the national parks law. In addition to this, four of our national parks (Doñana, Garajonay, Teide and Ordesa y Monte Perdido) have been designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, a distinction awarded to assets of exceptional characteristics that make them unique in the world.

Lastly, Spain is the country with the world’s highest number of biosphere reserves. This UNESCO MAB programme recognises compatibility between the economic development and respect for sustainability of a territory. Spain currently has 48 spaces listed as such, spread throughout its territory.

How has nature tourism evolved in recent years and how does it contribute to the environment?

Nature tourism accounts for 15% of worldwide travel and in Spain it accounts for 12-29% of tourism. This is a growing activity. In Spain, the nature tourist profile is a young person between 25 and 45 years of age, with secondary or advanced education levels who does short-term stays with low levels of specialisation in their activities in the natural environment.

The local economy of areas in the vicinity of locations where these activities are undertaken has seen a positive evolution owing to the area’s tourism promotion and the use of species as a tourism label. This has led to wildlife observation tourism becoming an economic activity that has an impact mainly on the hospitality industry.

Which are the challenges still to be faced by the national parks?

The network does not yet contemplate all of the natural systems covered in the appendix to Act 30/2014 of 3 December on National Parks, especially those referring to marine ecosystems, where we have to make an effort in upcoming years to designate new areas, some of which have already been identified. Moreover, we have to make efforts to make public use compatible with the conservation of our national parks. And make efforts to improve the communication channels that inform the population of the values contained in our parks.

Which message will you send out at FITUR 2018 and how will you promote your proposals?

The message the MAPAMA wishes to transmit at this FITUR staging is “travel around Spain’s flavours and landscapes”, reinforced through the different events scheduled for this staging.