Coastal Tourism

Traditionally, coastal tourism in Europe has been based so far on the so-called 3S model: sea, sand and sun.

Over the decades, the need for accommodating growing number of tourists has led to the massive urbanization of portions of the Mediterranean coast, often in a rapid and uncontrolled manner.

Coastal development has led to the artificialisation of coastal and marine ecosystems, habitat fragmentation and deterioration, threatening its own economic viability.

As a blue growth sector, it has however the potential to create well-being and jobs while contributing to the good state of coastal and marine environments.

What's the attraction???

Coastal tourism in Europe has been largely based on 3 main attractions: sea, sand and sun. Of course this is very attractive - a LOT of people want to share this experience:

The numbers of tourists globally has increased massively over the last number of decades:

So guess what the forecast is for 2030?

1.0 Billion 1.4 Billion 1.8 Billion

Europe remains the region with the most international arrivals per year. The Mediterranean Sea region has for decades been a massively popular tourist destination and the industry has been growing.

Since 1995, tourism has grown by almost 75 % in the region and projections show that the number of arrivals could reach around 637 million by 2025!

This generated $5.6 billion of revenue across the Mediterranean in 1970, rising to , and $224 billion in 2011!!

So what drove the development of Mass Tourism?

Early tourism was the preserve of the well-off. Tours of of important artistic and cultural archaeological and artistic sites were part of the grand tour experience – a rite of passage for wealthy Northern Europeans for many years.

Thomas Cook Early Tourists

Access to regular scheduled ship and rail transport in the late 1800’s brough the era of mass tourism, such as the integrated travel and accommodation systems introduced by Thomas Cook, which pave the way for mass tourism in Italy for example.

In the 1950's thousands of small, family-owned, all-inclusive hotels appeared along the Mediterranean coasts, offering a basic but cozy service.

Lloret de Mar on the Spanish Costa Brava started receiving summer visitors from wealthier Barcelona families. The first hotel opened there in the 1920's, but it was not until the 1950's that the first foreign tourists arrived. While tourism has become an important industry, with over 1 million visitors per year, 80% of whom are from other countries, it has long since replaced fishing as a major source of income of the inhabitants.

LLloret da Mar - Early 1900's

LLloret da Mar

LLloret da Mar Early 1900's

LLloret da Mar - Now

LLloret da Mar

LLloret da Mar Now

Once somewhere has been 'discovered', it can become very popular very quickly!

So, what's the problem??

The golden age of coastal mass tourism in the Mediterranean area arrived in the 1960s and 1970s, bringing massive urbanization of portions of the Mediterranean coast such as for example the Riviera Romagnola in Italy, the Côte d’Azur in France and the Costa Blanca in Spain. In most cases, this growth was extremely rapid, and uncontrolled.

Urbanisation leads to Artificialisation of coastal and marine ecosystems, to fragmentation and deterioration of habitats

Habitats worth Protecting

Healthy coastal and marine environments are seen as important touristic assets. As we become more concerned with Sustainable Tourism, we realise that it is these habitats that Sustain Sustainable Tourism

  • All
  • Coastal
  • Marine


Sea and fresh water mix, making estuaries among the most productive natural habitats in the world.



Coastal lagoons are one of the most productive ecosystems and are home for many species of organisms.



Mudflats usually support a large population of wildlife, and are important in preventing coastal erosion.



Helping to form tidal pools, lagoons, and wetlands, a variety of marine life can grow in these areas.


Rock Pool

A constantly changing environment, home to a wide variety of highly specialised organisms.


Shallow Bay

Supporting a huge variety of life, but often under pressure from human activity.



Reefs provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms.



Posidonia meadows are an important habitat for more than 400 plant and 1000 animal species.

Dive A Bit Deeper

Click on the images on to find out more.

Cause & Effect

Find out how the a chain of activities and events can impact our coastlines and habitats.

Sustainable Tourism

If anything is to last and have minimal environmental impact, it must be Sustainable. Tourism is no exception!