46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
This report pursues the objective to define the connection that ties exploitation of the environment quality in the protected areas and the opportunities of economic and tourist development. Sicilian protected areas involve a territory full of an extraordinary variety and concentration of historical, artistic and environmental resources, so that they represent one of the main tourist attractions of the Island. Unfortunately, the Sicilian protected areas system shows serious backwardnesses, so that the prevailing image is one of wide zones in state of abandonment and degrade. It needs to start a process of investments and programmes in order to realize an integration between both the basical aims of environmental safeguard and the promotion of sustainable touristic and economic activities. The report presents a brief description of protected areas' features, as long as considering protected territories as an instrument of local economic and social development. The second part of the paper is focused on the main features of the Sicilian protected areas system, in order to highlight the matters concerning the tourist-recreational exploitation of the protected territories in a sustainable viewpoint.