Tourism and the WiCoP Forum

From May 1999 to December 2004 a web-based discussion forum on Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development (WiCOP Forum) was operated as part of the work programme of UNESCO’s Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform.

In its early stages, the Forum organizers in Paris asked leaders of UNESCO-sponsored field projects to send in examples of wise practices and to analyse them using a check-list of criteria. These were then posted on the Web to trigger discussion. Gradually the organizers extended the Forum to wise practices from other initiatives, besides UNESCO's.

A team of moderators maintained the site -- editing the contributions before they are posted on the Forum site, and in addition sending the new postings over 20,000 individuals connected with the Forum (at the time of its closure in late 2004). (In some parts of the world with poor Internet connection, large files and attachments overload the local server, or cost too much to download at slow speeds and inflated telephone charges, so e-mail is the only option).

To stimulate dialogue through the Forum, rather than person to person, the moderators decided not to include contributors’ e-mail addresses. The downside of this is that the Forum did not fully function as a network, as people were not able to contact one another directly. But there were been other, unexpected spin-offs, with contributions turning out to be valuable case studies for learning and teaching purposes.

In its four-and-a-half years of operation, the Forum addressed a large range of issues related to wise coastal practices, with many perspectives being flagged by individual contributors. Some examples of contributions related to tourism in coastal regions, in both continental and insular settings, are given below.

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