The Future of Tourism in Natural Areas: Impact, Governance, Financing


COMMUNITY LAB  15 Oct-26 Nov. 2020 Remote participation

WEBINAR  3 Jul. 2020 12.30-14.00 CEST Watch the replay

A creative Lab for policy makers and practitioners at the time of Covid-19

The project was developed by the OECD Trento Centre for Local Development and tsm - Trentino School of Management, in collaboration with the OECD Tourism Committee


The Covid-19 pandemic has heavily affected tourism worldwide and it is expected to continue doing so over the coming months. In such a changing context, there is a widespread acknowledgement that tourism will never be the same in the Covid-19 aftermath. The effects of the pandemic will modify the way we move, the way we stay, and the way we experience destinations.

This massive change will not be linear and destinations around the world will face unprecedented challenges. Hence, the demand for new skills, new tools and new strategic approaches will increase. The recovery of tourism requires conceiving innovative ideas and views, considering all phases of the customer journey. 

The recovery will require a long time and, now more than ever, there is the need of a transition toward a more sustainable tourism. The sustainability concept should be intended in a broader perspective, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be regarded as the reference guideline for such transformation. This will be particularly important when it comes to the future of tourism in natural areas as the protection of nature will be particularly important after the pandemic.

Why a focus on natural areas, and why now? 

Based on various analyses of Covid-19 impacts on tourism, it is fair to assume that nature will be explored more in the post-Covid-19 era. Free spaces, remoteness, air purity, water freshness will gain more value in the eyes of travellers, and Protected Areas might expect a significant rise in the number of visitors, particularly by domestic tourists. This will have advantages but also side effects and will require more responsible management of negative impacts to find new solutions, to build a more sustainable tourism in Natural Areas, and to improve resilience to future shocks and instabilities. Transforming the crisis into an opportunity depends as well on the capacity of the policymakers and operators to gain a deep understanding of the situation and to shift toward new models and settings.

The theme of the Future of Tourism in Natural Areas project (Tour.Nat) was tourism management in natural and protected areas: how to design it, how to make it more balanced, how to reshape the experiences, how to govern and manage the visitors’ flows, how to minimise the negative impacts, how to manage the relationship with local communities, how to engage with nature stakeholders, and how to govern it for the benefit of the local people and the natural environment.

Goal & Topics

The project intended to build an agile living laboratory of practical seminars, individual research, working groups, creative sessions, interactive discussions, and online tutoring. Bearing in mind that no “one-size-fits-all” solutions for the current and post-Covid-19 challenges exist, the steering concept of Tour.Nat was to leverage on the case studies and on the participants’ first hand experiences. The ideas and actions of the post-pandemic tourism - that participants developed and tested during the summer - were discussed, studied, analysedand compared to draw practical lessons and viable solutions for the forthcoming seasons.

In dealing with the twofold practice-oriented and policy-making challenge, Tour.Nat built around three main topics: impacts, governance and financing.


The Project, capitalising on the 2019 OECD-tsm project on Tourism management for UNESCO designated sites in Natural Areas (T.UN.NA), was conceived on a full web-based peer-to-peer training and capacity-building concept and was built on 3 main components:

TourNat timeline

Participants profile

The international seminar was open to everyone interested in Tour.Nat topics.

The Community Lab targets:

  • Practitioners (local and regional Destination Management Organisations, tourism business operators, tourism agencies, experts, representatives of sectoral interest groups and associations, researchers);
  • Policy makers (local, regional and national authorities, national and regional agencies, international tourism sector organisations, tourism management institutions and bodies);
  • Parks and natural areas’ managing authorities and natural areas regulating institutions.
  TourNat visual

Materials & Information

Project outline & Agenda

Project outline & Agenda

Cost & Participation

There was no participation fee.

The participation to the international webinar on 3 Jul. 2020 was only subject to online registration. The recording is available. 

The Community Lab was subject to a selection process. Candidates had to provide:

► Personal and professional information.
► Motivations for participating in the Community Lab
►  A case study (project, programme or initiative, which is directly related to the candidate’s professional experience and based on sustainable tourism strategy in natural area to face the Covid-19 challenge).
► CV in PDF format.

A panel of experts selected 32 participants for the Community Lab considering the curriculum and the presented case study. This final phase was divided into two stages. 

15 Oct. - 15 Nov. 2020. The focus was on the participants’ individual case studies, to analyse, assess and enrich them with a blend of online tutorship and virtual group working for a maximum of 20 hours of estimated individual workload.

■ 23-26 Nov. 2020. A four-day intensive online Lab of plenary sessions (4 hours per day) to compare and build on the main lessons learned and fresh concepts developed in the previous four weeks of group work. During the plenary sessions, each group presented the main results of the group works to a panel of international experts and to the other participants to draw some strategic indications and insights on how to reshape tourism in natural areas, dealing with both practical lessons and policy solutions. Each working day was devoted to a different pillar of the Project, while the fourth day gathered all the concepts with the aim of developing a shared outcome.

Working language


Online platform

The webinar and the Community Lab were held in digital format through the ZOOM platform. Connection was possible via computer, tablet or smartphone.


OECD Trento Centre for Local Development:

tsm-Trentino School of Management:




OECD Trento Centre: integrated local development

Community Lab International Experts


Professor of Management, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy & former Director, Research Institute on Tourism Management, La Rochelle Business School, France 



Executive Director, Conservation Finance Alliance, US & and environmental finance expert


Anna Spenceley

Chair, Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)



Policy Analyst, Tourism Unit
Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions & Cities, OECD


Webinar 3 Jul 2020




with the support of


Europarc Federation