Holidays in mountainous areas or natural parks are now all the rage in Italy. But ecotourism, or sustainable nature-based tourism, may be developing into a victim of its own success. On the one hand, the sector is good for the shrinking national holiday industry; on the other, high tourist numbers now threaten local ecosystems. National tourist association, the Touring Club of Italy, says ecotourism in the country rose by 20 per cent between 2000-2005, and is now worth around 8 billion per year. The Alpine mountain range, covering eight European countries and home to 30,000 animal species and 13,000 plant species, is the destination of choice for many ecotourists. Against this backdrop, the EU aims to safeguard the mountain range via the convention on the protection of the Alps a treaty ratified by all alpine countries except Italy, despite repeated calls from the WWF.
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