||This paper reviews the perspective of the local actors within the context of a sustainable future. Biosphere reserves as designated model areas for sustainability strive to reconcile existing conflicts between the goals of economic growth, environmental protection and social justice. Tourism development in biosphere reserves provides opportunities as well as challenges for the exploitation of biodiversity. In order to minimise the danger it is important how tourism is managed. Without the involvement of local people, sustainable tourism development is doomed to failure. The case studies presented from Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic provide a view inside the situation of protected areas in East Central Europe and cover areas where tourism has reached differing stages of development. Empirical results in four biosphere reserves will show the view of the actors in the region.