The sustainability concept applied to human activities implies the need to harmonise the protection of environment with a satisfactory economic and social development. This is particularly true for tourism development: a misuse of the natural resources can cause a degradation of the tourist appeal of the destination, bringing it finally to its economic decline. This problem is particularly important in coastal tourism destinations. The implementation of an environmental management system is a powerful way for progressing towards better environmental performances. In this paper, the main results obtained in applying the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme procedure to the municipality of Cervia, a well-known tourist destination located on the Adriatic coast of Italy are described. This research puts into evidence that the main environmental pressures in the summer season are related to the supply of potable water, the production of solid wastes and wastewater air pollution and noise, etc. However, if correctly planned and managed, tourism can also contribute to environmental protection, to the conservation of biodiversity and to a sustainable use of natural resources.

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