This paper presents certain results of the research Tourism as Driving Force behind the Sustainable Redevelopment and Changes of Towns and Territories. Euro-Mediterranean Strategies and Experiences, which is still in progress. The aims of the research are: to understand the relationships between tourist phenomena and territorial changes; to investigate the role of town and physical planning in enacting concrete principles and directives concerning sustainability, in terms of tourist strategies respectful of local identities. The first part of the paper tackles the theme from a theoretical perspective, while the second part examines certain operational strategies and experiences carried out in the Mediterranean Basin, the world’s most important tourist area for the presence of historical and cultural sites and for its extraordinary environmental resources. The final part proposes considerations useful to the elaboration of guidelines for a sustainable tourism which takes into account the specific identities of the different local contexts. The paper proposes Calabria as a particularly significant case study. This region is located in the southern end of the Italian peninsula and juts out into the Mediterranean Sea. Its abundant and varied resources of outstanding historical, cultural, landscape and environmental value, which are associated to favourable climate conditions, clash with certain degraded natural, environmental, physical and morphological conditions. This is due to opposed reasons: on the one hand, the spread of housing, particularly in coastal towns and in valleys, and the growing unrestrained anthropization of tourist areas outside all planning logic; on the other hand, inland marginal areas which are forlorn and hardly accessible because of the lack of constant protection and maintenance. With respect to this complex and contradictory situation, recent dynamics indicate that a favourable change is probable and reverse the traditional image of a static, constantly backward and almost fossilised region with regard to the need to increase the factors of attractiveness and competitiveness in the tourist sector. The Law 135/2001, “Reform of the National Law on Tourism ”, concerning the Italian Local Tourist Systems, its regional implementation through the Regional Law 8/2008, the Regional Planning Law 19/02, its Guidelines and the European Landscape Convention will be referred to in order to outline opportunities, strategies and prospects for the establishment of virtuous relationships between tourist development and territories where innovation and modernity, on the one hand, and traditions and values, on the other, interlace, since each local tessera is fundamental to complete the global “mosaic” of sustainability.
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