Biological diversity (biodiversity)

The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Carbon footprint

The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Carbon neutral

Achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.

Carrying capacity

The maximum number of organisms of a given species that can be supported in a given habitat or geographic area.


Voluntary, third party assessment, through an audit, of a tourism enterprise for conformity to a standard.


Active management of the biosphere to ensure the survival of the maximum diversity of species and the maintenance of genetic variability within species. It includes the maintenance of biosphere function e.g. nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. The term also includes the concept of sustainable resource use so that the environment may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to current generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

An international legally binding United Nations treaty to deliver national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It has three main goals:

  1. the conservation of biodiversity;
  2. the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity; and
  3. the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.


A geographical area consisting of all the services and infrastructure necessary for the stay of a specific tourist or tourism segment. Destinations are the competitive units of incoming tourism.

Destination Management organisation (DMO)

Organization responsible for the implementation of strategic tourism policies, product development and co-ordinated management of all the elements that make up a destination (accommodation, attractions, access, marketing, human resources, image). The form and structure of a DMO can vary, depending on the context in which it operates.


A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.

Ecosystem services

Benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual, religious and other non-material benefits.


According to the UNWTO's definition, ecotourism refers to forms of tourism which have the following characteristics:

  • all nature-based forms of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas;
  • it contains educational and interpretation features;
  • it is generally, but not exclusively organised by specialised tour operators for small groups. Service provider partners at the destinations tend to be small, locally owned businesses;
  • it minimises negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment;
  • it supports the maintenance of natural areas which are used as ecotourism attractions by: a) generating economic benefits for host communities, organisations and authorities managing natural areas with conservation purposes; b) providing alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities; c) increasing awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets, both among locals and tourists.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

An analytical process that systematically examines the possible environmental consequences of the implementation of projects, programmes and policies.

European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST)

A certification for natural areas developed and promoted by the Europarc Federation that ensures the commitment and cooperation between the protected area authority, local municipalities, tourism stakeholders and community to promote environmental protection and sustainable tourism. It is practical management tool that enables Protected Areas to develop tourism sustainably. More information can be found at:

European Tourism Indicators System for sustainable destination management (ETIS)

A system of indicators suitable for all tourist destinations, encouraging them to adopt a more intelligent approach to tourism planning.

Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Criteria serve as the global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The GSTC Criteria are used for education and awareness-raising, policy-making and as a basis for certification. The Criteria are the minimum, not the maximum, which businesses, governments, and destinations should achieve to approach social, environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability.

Innovation in Tourism

The introduction of a new or improved component which intends to bring tangible and intangible benefits to tourism stakeholders and the local community, improve the value of the tourism experience and the core competencies of the tourism sector and hence enhance tourism competitiveness and /or sustainability. Innovation in tourism may cover potential areas, such as tourism destinations, tourism products, technology, processes, organizations and business models, skills, architecture, services, tools and/or practices for management, marketing, communication, operation, quality assurance and pricing.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

A membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

IUCN Red List

A compendium of information on the taxonomy, conservation status and distribution of plants, fungi and animal species that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction, and the main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction.

Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC)

Environmental indicators that can monitor changes over time as a consequence of tourism.

LAC has variously been described as a "management by objectives" approach or an "indicator-based" approach to management. It can be viewed as both a concept (e.g., one that focuses discourse on the appropriateness or acceptability of various conditions) and as a step-based framework to structure planning and decision-making.


A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living.

Local community

The collection of people living in the immediate area of a destination or tourism business and potentially affected socially, economically, or environmentally by its presence or operation.

Natura 2000

A network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Natural heritage

Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view; geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation; natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

Natural resources

Assets (raw materials) occurring in nature that can be used for economic production or consumption.

Protected area

A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

Quality of a Tourism Destination

The result of a process which implies the satisfaction of all tourism product and service needs, requirements and expectations of the consumer at an acceptable price, in conformity with mutually accepted contractual conditions and the implicit underlying factors such as safety and security, hygiene, accessibility, communication, infrastructure and public amenities and services. It also involves aspects of ethics, transparency and respect towards the human, natural and cultural environment. Quality, as one of the key drivers of tourism competitiveness, is also a professional tool for organizational, operational and perception purposes for tourism suppliers.

Responsible consumption

A concerted effort to purchase and use goods and services that have low environmental footprints and provide a positive economic impact where feasible.

Social Impact Assessment

The process of analysing, monitoring, and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions (policies, programs, plans, projected) and any social change processes invoked by those interventions. Its primary purpose is to bring about a more sustainable and equitable biophysical and human environment.

Sustainable development

A development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

A set of goals which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. They are one of the main outcomes of the Rio +20 Conference, aimed to be achieved by 2030.

Sustainable tourism

According to UNWTO, sustainable tourism can be defined as: "Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities".


A social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business /professional purposes.


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.


A visitor is a traveller taking a trip to a main destination outside his/her usual environment, for less than a year, for any main purpose (business, leisure or other personal purpose) other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited. A visitor (domestic, inbound or outbound) is classified as a tourist (or overnight visitor), if his/her trip includes an overnight stay, or as a same-day visitor (or excursionist) otherwise.

Visitor management

An administrative action oriented towards maintaining the quality of park resources and visitor experiences. In many but not all situations management tends to focus on the negative impacts resulting from unrestrained visitor activity. In other situations management acts assertively to create and maintain opportunities for visitors to view, experience, learn about and appreciate their natural and cultural heritage.


Living things that are neither human nor domesticated.