STEP stands for Sustainable Tourism in Estuary Parks. The aim of the STEP project is to develop sustainable tourism in the estuarine nature areas involved in the project: the Broads in England, the Polders of Kruibeke in Flanders and the Biesbosch in the Netherlands. Focus will be on developing the concept of sustainable tourism, innovative forms of visitor management and cooperation between public and private partners in developing sustainable tourism.
By sharing experiences and knowledge and by working together on joint studies, all three areas will develop towards areas where sustainable tourism is a priority, a shared goal by the people who work in the areas and a visible issue to the visitors who come to visit these areas.
Nature and landscape areas in estuaries are increasingly confronted by environmental problems and social developments. These areas, which have long been attractive for recreation and tourism, are encountering increasing recreation pressure, rising water levels as a result of climate change, new flooding areas, more stringent protection as a result of the European Natura 2000 guidelines, a decrease in agricultural usage and a rise in environmental pollution. Furthermore, these areas are often hard to access (often only by boat). Management and supervision are difficult. STEP will tackle a number of these problems and capitalise on new opportunities.