This paper aims at illustrating the scope of involvement of local communities and local businesses in the development of cultural ecosystem services in rural areas, in particular with reference to sustainable tourism. The authors discuss if, how and why local communities develop ecotourism products and infrastructure in areas where natural and cultural resources are strictly controlled. This work is based on field surveys in the naturally valuable region of the Noteć River Valley, forming a part of International Waterway E70. Six focused interviews were carried out with employees of the indicated organisations and local residents who were involved in developing the offer of sustainable tourism and ecotourism. The results indicate that the local community more and more often realizes the existence of advantages related to operation in protected areas and utilizes local natural and cultural resources for the purposes of developing sustainable tourism, including ecotourism in their territory. It becomes an additional source of income, and for some people - the main one. At the same time, local cultural heritage, being a priority measure taken into account by the European Union, is protected. On a wider scale, such activities have a chance to develop in the Noteć River Valley if specialist and financial support is provided and if the residents’ knowledge about ecotourism and their conscious involvement in the development of ecotourism increase.