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The world is in a constant state of change. In 2020, it became even more clear that the world can change drastically and very quickly. Protected areas, a tool for the long-term conservation of biodiversity and environmental services, represent one of the largest collective human land-use decisions in the world. However, the global changes occurring affect protected areas in many complex ways. We are losing biodiversity, forest cover, clean water, clean air, and even our own connection with nature. But at the same time, protected area managers, collaborators, and communities are working with great dedication to sustain the protected areas that in the end sustain us.

It is clear that providing sustainable opportunities for people to visit protected areas is vital for their long-term public support. In addition, support to protected areas can be designed in a way that also contributes to local community livelihoods and national-level economies. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created major global challenges on this front. At the same time, we have seen a boom in local visitation to protected areas as people have turned to their parks as a space for mental, physical, and emotional well-being during the pandemic. This virtual conference will allow us to exchange ideas, approaches, and stories of success in protected area visitation and sustainable tourism around the world. This includes what is working now and how we envision to create even more meaningful opportunities for people to connect with the world’s protected areas as global tourism starts to open up again.

Along with our general theme, “Protected Area Tourism in a Post-COVID World”, the conference has three subthemes and ten featured topics:

Conference Sub-themes:

  1. Building resilience for tourism and protected areas.
  2. Enhancing engagement and connections with the public.
  3. Planning and managing sustainable tourism in protected areas.

Conference Topics:

  1. Adaptation to COVID-19
  2. Protected area tourism and resilience
  3. Good practices in sustainable tourism planning and management
  4. New trends and opportunities in sustainable tourism in protected areas
  5. Building public support for protected areas

  6. Tourism and protected area concessions
  7. Tourism value chains
  8. Trails and other sustainable tourism infrastructure
  9. Environmental interpretation
  10. University access programs