Traditionally, coastal tourism in Europe has been based so far on the so-called 3S model: sea, sand and sun. Over the decades, the need for accommodating growing number of tourists has led to the massive urbanization of portions of the Mediterranean coast, often in a rapid and uncontrolled manner. Nowadays, coastal development is a bulging phenomenon concerning long stretches of the Mediterranean coast, leading to the artificialisation of coastal and marine ecosystems, habitat fragmentation and deterioration. Thus, its success itself can threaten its own economic viability. As a blue growth sector, it has however the potential to create well-being and jobs while contributing to the good state of coastal and marine environments.
Ocean literacy can play a key role in guiding the sector towards sustainable blue growth. Key is to improve coordination among actors of a very fragmented tourism industry–hotel & restaurant owners, beach resort and marina managers, building companies, national and local policy makers and urban planners. Ocean literacy campaigns also need to target tourists: raising awareness on how they can mitigate their own impact; and informing local actors on tourists’ expectations and wishes.