The Protocol on Sustainable Tourism

turystyka1Photo: UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre

The Protocol on Sustainable Tourism (Bratislava, 2011) to the Framework Carpathian Convention was adopted on 27 May 2011 in Bratislava at the 3rd Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP3). Poland signed this Protocol on 8 September 2011 in Krynica, during the 21. Economic Forum. As for today, the Protocol on Sustainable Tourism is in force already for six “Carpathian” countries, except Ukraine, which has not signed it.

This Protocol entered into force for Poland on 29 April 2013, and upon its publication in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland (Dz.U. 2013 item 682) became part of the Polish national legal system.

The thematic scope of the Protocol on Sustainable Tourism includes:

  • promotion of the Carpathian region as the destination for sustainable tourism (Article 8)
  • development, promotion and marketing the Carpathian regional sustainable tourism products, services and packages (Article 9)
  • ensuring the common high quality standards of sustainable tourism in the Carpathians (Article 10)
  • managing tourist traffic in the Carpathians for the benefit of the environment and sustainable local economic development (Article 12)
  • planning the sustainable development of tourist transport and infrastructure (Article 16)
  • information and experience exchange, capacity building for development and management of sustainable tourism in the Carpathians (Article 19)
  • promoting transboundary cooperation on sustainable tourism development in the Carpathians (Article 20)
  • enhancing the contribution of tourism to: the sustainable development of the local economy (Article 11), conservation and sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity (Article 13), sustainable agriculture (Article 14), sustainable forest management (Article 15), preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage and of traditional knowledge of the local communities (Article 17), public education and awareness on sustainability issues (Article 18)
  • managing impacts of tourism on the biological and landscape diversity of the Carpathians (Article 21), managing environmental impacts (Article 22), socio-economic and cultural impacts (Article 23)

The common natural, cultural, traditional and historical heritage of the Carpathians are perceived as the specific Carpathian competitive advantages for sustainable tourism development (Article 9.2 of the Protocol).

According to Article 12.2. of the Protocol, in order to mitigate the impacts of tourism on fragile mountain ecosystems of the Carpathians and to provide for a more equal distribution of the tourist traffic in the Carpathian region - each Party shall take measures in its national territory with the objective to disperse, redirect and channel part of the tourist traffic out of the current main tourist destinations and sensitive sites such as protected areas, to the areas being less ecologically sensitive, less developed and less explored by tourism, but having sufficient potential to absorb and accommodate part of the tourist traffic.

Such policy would mitigate negative migration and rural depopulation trends, contribute to poverty alleviation and allow for more equal sharing of benefits and revenues from the tourist services sector by all municipalities of the Carpathian region.

Between 2012 and 2015 “The Strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Magical Land of Lemko and Pogorzanie” was developed under the “Carpathians Unite” project, with the participation of 38 neighbouring Carpathian municipalities. This activity can be perceived as the pilot action towards the implementation of the Protocol on Sustainable Tourism in the Polish part of the Carpathian region. This model strategy for the “Magical Land” can easily be applied also in other parts of the Carpathians.


In 2014 the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the Framework Carpathian Convention adopted the Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development of the Carpathians in 2014 - 2024 (Document UNEP/CC/COP4/DOC14) containing the international “Joint Action Plan” as well as the uniform “Country Action Plan” to be implemented by each Party to the Protocol.

Basing on the above „Country Action Plan” template the Ministry of Sport and Tourism of the Republic of Poland prepared in 2016 the “Plan of voluntary activities by the administration and tourism sector entities towards the implementation of the Strategy for the development of sustainable tourism in the Carpathians”.

More information on the Sustainable Tourism Protocol and related activities at the website of the Carpathian Convention.