The alternative forms of tourism that involve outdoor activities, mountain sports or ecotourism are gaining popularity around the world. The increasing interest for visiting protected areas such as nature reserves, national parks and protected forests underlines the importance of tourism for environmental protection.
The quality of the environment, natural or urban, affects tourism. Still, the relationship between tourism and environment is complex. On one hand, tourism and the funds it brings makes it possible for protected areas to be self-sustainable, while on the other, tourism and infrastructural needs could have a negative influence on the environment. The main threat from tourism can be defined as slow destruction of resources on which ecotourism is based. Tourism, however, can contribute a lot for protection and promotion of natural rarities. Ecotourism can also be used as a financial tool, as well as a tool for education and promotion of policies for environmental protection.
These alternative forms of tourism can be of great benefit to small protected areas. Unlike national parks, for example, they have fewer options and possibilities for maintenance, financing and promotion. By creating scientifically-backed tourist offers, setting up infrastructure that would not violate the natural landscape and its moderate use, tourism can be the key for preservation of natural values.
The Nature Conservation Programme is already actively promoting alternative forms of tourism in the Bregalnica region, and also supports the work of local restaurateurs by organizing educational meets and workshops in order to improve the tourist offer in the region.