Protected Areas

Tourism - TAPAS

IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group

Specialist Group Leader

Anna Spenceley
Anna Spenceley

IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group Strategy 2015-2020

More than 350 professionals are members of the Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, part of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

The priorities of the TAPAS group are to contribute to the work of the IUCN and WCPA to:

  1. conserve biodiversity
  2. generate knowledge
  3. build awareness
  4. improve governance and equity.

The objectives of the TAPAS group are:

(a) Strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of protected area managersand policy makers and others in relation to sustainable tourism, through learning, exchange and the development of information and guidance in a managed professional network;

(b) Provide an interactive forum for individuals working on protected areas and tourism, which allows them to network, communicate, collaborate, and develop partnerships.

(c) Provide strategic advice to governments and others on the optimum approaches to sustainable tourism in protected and natural areas.

(d) Develop and disseminate knowledge on tourism and protected areas, including case studies and best practice syntheses.

(e) Enhance the level of tourism contribution to the goals of protected areas and protected area systems.

(f) Enhance the capacity of WCPA through the TAPAS group, including through co-operative ventures with networks and partners and, in particular IUCN members, and recognize their contributions.

The terms of reference for the TAPAS Group is to contribute constructively to the mission of IUCN and WCPA, in a voluntary capacity, and in particular to:

  • Provide technical advice on sustainable tourism, biodiversity and heritage protection and conservation, where IUCN’s advice is sought,
  • Develop guidelines and tools for the management of tourism that supports sustainable development, local economic development, biodiversity conservation, human and natural health outcomes, environmental education, awareness raising, monitoring and evaluation, and fosters attachment and support for nature
  • Develop case studies and syntheses to investigate best practice models and policies for sustainable tourism management, including facilitate special issues of major academic and practitioner journals on topics relevant to tourism and protected areas,
  • Communicate best practice tourism and visitor planning and management to policy makers, planners, protected area managers, the tourism industry, development agencies and others,
  • Foster professionalism and technical competence in the establishment and management of sustainable tourism and visitation to protected areas including assisting with publications, education, standards, and capacity development where applicable,
  • Work with colleagues from other WCPA Specialist Groups and Task Forces, IUCN Commissions and partner organisations to further the key role of protected areas in achieving sustainable tourism that contributes to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural heritage,
  • Provide support for international initiatives relevant to protected areas in their country/region on sustainable tourism,
  • Support the Parties and the CBD Secretariat, Working Groups and Task Forces in delivering the goals of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas,
  • Develop a model for integrating the work of TAPAs more closely with IUCN via discussions regarding the sponsorship of tourism and protected area research, as suggested above, and delivering a joint plan of communications based and approved fundraising goals together with the leadership of IUCN,
  • Forge stronger partnerships and linkages with international agencies working on sustainable tourism that promote synergies to help achieve the mission of the TAPAS Group, including the UNWTO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, 10YFP and others,
  • actively participate in international conferences and workshops on sustainable tourism and protected areas, encouraging members to share their experiences, engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, and raise awareness the TAPAS Group,
  • Develop a model for financing the cost of TAPAs administrative and research leadership, including reviewing the potential for donor support, corporate support and grants, and partnering with academic institutions to allow raising funds through their non-profit, research programs.


IUCN Best Practice Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ST-BPG) (also available in Chinese, Japanese and Russian)

Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas: Generating sustainable revenues for conservation and development, The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), IUCN WCPA TAPAS, 2017

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