Protected areas play a very important role in terms of the concept of sustainable socioeconomic and tourism development on the planet. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) created a special classification with the aim to divide into certain categories protected areas, depending on their natural values and significance. Except for their preservation functions, in particular conservation of biodiversity and their natural habitats, protected areas have one more function. They can be used for and contribute to the sustainable development of all aspects of the socioeconomic development of community.
This paper has the aim to determine to what extent national parks could be engaged with the sector of tourism. Under observation are national parks as they represent one of the most preferred forms of nature protection in global scale and in Bulgaria as well. Their involvement in turn could be used to contribute to sustainable development. Ecotourism is considered as a basic instrument to achieve the aforementioned objectives. There are two concepts that lay the foundations for successful implementation. These are the concept of sustainable development, on the one hand, and the concept of development of alternative forms of tourism, on the other hand. The main idea is that the concept of development of alternative forms of tourism is derivative on the principles of sustainable tourism development.


Key words

protected areas, national parks, functional zoning, alternative forms of tourism, ecotourism



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