Some months ago we discovered the amazing nature of Mercantour National Park in France. In that occasion we stopped in a nice local refuge inside the park, where we tasted zero miles chees and special wine, and we visited amazing tree houses surrounded by nature.

We also discovered that French National Parks launched the Spirit National Park, a trademark for accommodations, services and products, to promote sustainable tourism, engaging the actors inside parks, and educating travellers.

The National Park Esprit trademark is available in 10 national parks of France. The implementation of the national park Ecolabel is governed in partnership with the national parks.

We interviewed Florence Couzinet, Ecotourism expert and Project Manager in the Mercantour National Park.

Florence COUZINET BAUDEMONT Chargée de projet écotourisme
Florence Couzinet Baudermont, Chargée de projet écotourisme, Mercantour Natural Park, France

What is your idea of sustainable tourism, and how the French Natural Parks (and Mercantour Natural Park)
are promoting it?

In the Mercantour national park, sustainable tourism is a network of small touristic partners that work together intending to protect, valorise and promote the area.

This 3 goals (protect, promote and valorise) can be reach by so many diferent ways : develop environnemental infrastructures, educate and share knowlegde to the visitors, work together, using local product, etc.

The European Charter of Sustainable Tourism helps us to plan and organize tourism and realize concrete actions on the area with all the touristic partners.

Indeed, an association has been created with local partners with the park (Association Mercantour écotourisme). This association provides a large touristic offer in the park.
Can you tell us something about the new eco-label certification? How is it born and how does it works?

Esprit parc national, Ecolabel in France
Esprit parc national, Ecolabel in France

The new Ecolabel cetification, called Esprit Parc national, is a national label created by Parcs nationaux de France in collaboration with all the French national parks.

Touristic (accomodations, guides, etc.) and local products (honey for example) can obtain this label if they respect the national park values.

This label was launch in 2015 and its main goal is to develop a real touristic offer in the French national park.

What are the main ecorequirements requested to the facilities?

Diferent criteria are controlled by the park. It depends on the product and sector, but they have all the same 4 general points :
– environnemental impacts,
– education to the visitors,
– economic and local integration to the area
– patrimonial valorization.
Some criteria are compulsory, some are optional.

Which feedback have you had from those who work in the park? And from travellers?

Our partners want to take advantage of the positive image of the national park. Of course, a national park is an important label by itself, the label Esprit parc national is an acknowledgement by the park. It means the patner share the park values. It is a real plus for our partner, sign of distinction .
National park is an international institution well known everywhere in the world, for the travelers the lable is a real security.

What are the new plans for the future? How will be the tourism in the Mercantour Natural Park in the future?

The Mercantour national park has a large touristic network and partnership today. So the park wants to continue its work on the area and helps the partner to obtain the label Esprit Parc national to have more visibility in the national and international touristic offer.

Info: Esprit Parc National, practical information on the trademark

Cover image: Mercantour Natural Park, France, ph. by Christian Teillas, via Flickr

Natural Parks, France
ph. by Tudre, via flickr

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Author: Silvia Ombellini

I am an architect with a passion for travel. I think it is urgent to be able to live in harmony with the ecosystem we are part of. After the birth of my second baby, Leo, I began to work at Ecobnb, an adventure undertaken to change the way we travel, to make it more sustainable, respectful of the environment, places and people.
More posts by Silvia Ombellini →

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