It is generally agreed upon that cultural heritage can be an important strategic resource for a destination and provide both economic and non-economic benefits for local communities and visitors alike. However, strategies with regard to cultural tourism development remain somewhat scattered and tangible, readily available evidence on the benefits often remain ideological, anecdotal or local. Within this webinar, we focus on a broader analysis of cultural tourism policies, policy responses to Covid-19 and success conditions of different types of cultural tourism interventions. Lessons learned on both success conditions and barriers of implementation can serve further policy recommendations.
The webinar is jointly organized with the SPOT project and will be held next 20 June from 11:00 to 12:30 (CET). Speakers include Bart Neuts (KU Leuven, SmartCulTour), Milada Šťastná (Mendel University, SPOT), Alun Jones (CIHEAM Zaragoza, SmartCulTour), Claire Wallace (University of Aberdeen, SPOT), John Shaddock (University of Aberdeen, SPOT) and Simone Moretti (Breda University of Applied Sciences, SmartCulTour).
You can register and read all the details here: Webinar
From 11 to 13 May, the Living Lab of Split organized an exchange, within the framework of the SmartCulTour H2020 Project, with Lab managers and stakeholders from Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam and Università Ca’Foscari (Venezia) Vicenza Living Lab. The objective of this visit was to exchange experiences and discuss some of the challenges that local stakeholders face. The two-day event included a visit to the beautiful city of Sinj and the fantastic Stella Croatica experience centre in Klis. The next exchange will take place in June organized by Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam.
Cultural tourism has sometimes been seen as a sustainable alternative to the mass tourism excesses that became prevalent during the first growth stages of international tourism. However, many internationally renowned cultural sites have also experienced unbalanced and unsustainable growth. At the same time, there are many underexplored and undervalued cultural resources throughout Europe that could (a) help to alleviate pressure on primary cultural attractions and destinations, and (b) support regional (economic) development. In order to activate the potential of regional cultural resources in a sustainable manner, stakeholder engagement – and particularly community-participation – is essential. Within the SmartCulTour-project, financed through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the European Union, various tools and methods have been developed and tested with the specific view to assist in such stakeholder engagement and support sustainable destination planning and management.
This workshop will be held in Leuven (Belgium) on 2 June 2022, and a team of SmartCulTour experts will present a variety of tools and strategies. The topic and content of the workshop is seen as particularly relevant for regional destination management organizations, strategic planners, and NGO’s in the tourism and cultural sphere who often work on a scale that involves a multitude and variety of actors with varied interests.
8:30-9:30 Coffee and Participant Registration (Location: Zaal Couvreur, AGOR M01.E50)
9:30-11:00 Session 1 : Methods and procedures to support cultural tourism development (Location: SW 02.05)
9:30-9:45 Introduction to the SmartCulTour project (Bart Neuts, KU Leuven)
9:45-10:00 Design process crafting and the double-diamond design model (Bert Smit, Breda University of Applied Sciences)
10:00-10:30 Understanding destination characteristics and visitor motivations through decision-support systems: The SmartCulTour Platform (Dario Bertocchi, UNIVE)
10:30-11:00 Systems mapping and visitor flow mapping (Bert Smit, Breda University of Applied Sciences)
The webinar “Cultural tourism in post-Covid cities” was organized last 3 May as part of the Cultural Heritage in Action sharing stories webinar series with the objective of exploring new trends in cultural tourism in cities after the pandemic. The webinar was moderated by Julie Hervé, Eurocities, with the participation of our partner Prof. Jan van der Borg (visiting professor in tourism management at KU Leuven and professor in applied economics at the University Ca’Foscari of Venice) who shared current trends in urban tourism, Carlotta Viviani (Economic and Tourism Promotion Department Municipality of Florence) who presented the case of study of the city of Florence and Pellervo Kokkonen, (Senior advisor and CEO at Savonlinna Travel Ltd) who presented the case study of the city of Savonlinna.
Here you can watch the recording:
A vibrant local cultural life and the presence of cultural heritage sites encourage people to travel: four in ten tourists already choose their destination on the basis of its cultural offering. Tourism is one of cities’ major economic assets. It contributes to the local economy, and generates jobs and social added value, but can also generate downsides: over-tourism, tensions with locals, pressure on the use of public services and on housing prices. There is a clear need to strike a balance between economic, social, cultural and environmental needs, including the protection of cultural heritage, to ensure the mid and long-term sustainability of tourism. While Europeans are starting to travel again, planning recreational and cultural activities, now is a good moment to reflect on urban tourism and developing practices, to address changing consumer needs and develop local policies and projects for more resilient, digital, and greener practices. How to develop a more sustainable cultural tourism in cities and regions, taking into account sustainability and environmental issues? Are there new practices developing in European cities and regions? These are the questions at the heart of the discussion.
Case study of Florence:
In Florence (IT, 366 000 inhabitants), the Feel Florence experience app brings tourists off the beaten track. Thanks to a real-time detection of the presences in certain areas, the app warns tourists to avoid overcrowded destinations and suggests unusual itineraries in the city centre, in neighbourhoods and in the metropolitan area. The app is a tool to avoid over-tourism in central areas of the city, where the management of crowds is a key challenge. 15.9 million people visited Florence in 2019, most of them focus on the historic centre, which is a 5km2 area in a city of 105km.
Case study of Savonlinna:
In Savonlinna (FI, 36 000 inhabitants), a recovery programme rescued the tourism dependent city and fosters innovation in tourism offers. Local policy makers quickly reacted to counter the effects of the pandemic on tourism in the city and to the need to compensate for the cancellation of large-scale events such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival (60 000 annual visitors). This included micro-grants to support innovative tourism products, more flexible weekly tourist programmes and support for pop- up events. This resulted in an increase overnight stays and national media visibility.
As part of Split’s Living Lab activities, the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism from the University of Split (FEBT), in collaboration with UNESCO, has organized a workshop focused on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and sustainable cultural tourism. The workshop is focused on the capacity building of the local stakeholders on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH, emphasizing participatory inventory and awareness-raising on ICH. It aims to introduce the stakeholders to the key concepts of the Convention, its ethical principles, and methods of participatory inventory of ICH, and raise the awareness of the local community on the ICH’s richness and its potential in the context of sustainable cultural tourism development. The program has been planned as a four-part: two online and two live meetings. The manager of all four modules is Mrs Tamara Nikolić Đerić, PhD, a longtime UNESCO facilitator.
The first part of the program was organized on Monday (February 21) via the Zoom application. The focus was on identifying and inventorying local knowledge for cultural tourism development. There were approximately 20 LL participants, and it lasted 2 hours. The Convention on the Preservation of the ICH, its ethical principles, and participatory inventory methods were discussed during the workshop. After the theoretical part, the LL participants prepared a questionnaire for the participatory inventory of ICH under the facilitator’s supervision. Then, from February 21 to March 1, LL participants were given the task to identify one ICH element and conduct at least one interview with local community members in preparation for the next part of the workshop program. During the process, they were continuously supported by the facilitator.
On March 4, in the hotel President, in the city of Solin, the second part of the workshop took place. It was dedicated to the inventory of ICH. During the first half of the daily program, incentivisation processes were discussed among LL participants, emphasizing the challenges and opportunities identified while working together with the local communities. In the second half of the program, the meeting of LL participants and invited local community members from Solin was organized. They worked together on the development of the ideas.
The third part of the workshop happened on March 15, online (via the Zoom application). The main topic was raising community awareness of heritage potential in sustainable cultural tourism development. Also, the principles of the Convention on raising awareness of ICH were argued at the workshop. In addition to good practices and the potential that heritage offers to local communities, the necessity to be aware of the dangers that threaten heritage preservation and sustainable tourism development was emphasized. After the introductory theoretical part, an action plan for the pilot project was created.
Finally, the fourth part of the workshop is planned to occur in Split on April 4-5. During the two-day program, in collaboration with the local artists, LL participants will co-create the campaigns to raise awareness of ICH. Results are going to be presented publicly at the online event in May.
If you are interested in learning how UNESCO works for sustainable cultural tourism destination management on a local level, now you have an excellent opportunity to join workshops online and on-site in Utsjoki as part of the SmartCulTour project!
As a partner in the H2020-funded project SmartCulTour, UNESCO is delivering a sustainable tourism capacity building and networking activity that brings together culture, heritage and tourism stakeholders from Utsjoki.
The two-part programme will include an online learning session introducing UNESCO’s approach to sustainable cultural tourism destination management, and a more practical workshop centred around the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit, with a focus on “Communicating with visitors/interpretation” and “Digital media and marketing”. As a follow-up to the learning programme, an interactive virtual session will be organized, providing opportunities for further reflections and exchanges.
An online learning session introducing UNESCO’s approach to sustainable cultural tourism destination management on 26.4. at 14-16 (Zoom link will be send later for those who are registered).
A more practical onsite workshop centred around the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit, with a focus on “Communicating with visitors/interpretation” and “Digital media and marketing” on 12.5. at 9-16. This will be held in Holiday Village Valle (CANCELLED AND MOVED TO AUTUMN 2022 – DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED).
As a follow-up to the learning programme, an interactive virtual session will be organized, providing opportunities for further reflections and exchanges on 25.5. at 14-16. (Zoom link will be send later for those who are registered).
The H2020 funded SmartCulTour project aims at supporting regional development in all European regions with important tangible and intangible cultural assets, including those located in rural peripheries and the urban fringe, through sustainable cultural tourism.
The International Day for Monuments and Sites 2022 (World Heritage Day 2022) takes place on 18th April, focusing this year on Heritage and Climate. As a project supporting the sustainability of cultural heritage within the sustainable tourism framework, SmartCulTour is working with 6 local community Living Labs to develop sustainable tourism approaches.
One of the goals of the international day is to ‘safeguard all types of cultural heritage from adverse climate impacts’. The local authorities of the municipalities (which are members of our Split Living Lab – see Fig. 1), especially the coastal ones, have been very active in developing measures to adapt to climate change through implementing coastal development plans. Although this activity has neither been financed nor supported directly by the SmartCulTour project, we are reporting on this practice example provided by one of our Living Labs in order to help raise awareness about how climate change is impacting on our cultural heritage and how active solutions are being sought.
The impacts of climate change are felt in the whole Split Living Lab (LL) area, in terms of the growing temperatures, longer waves of extreme heat and consequently longer periods of drought, changes in precipitation amount and regime (with occasional strong showers causing flooding) and stronger winds. In addition, Split LL coastal cities, especially their historical centres, are located on a narrow coastal strip and are affected by a significant rise in sea level. Figure 2 shows a significant change in the average monthly sea-level increase in the city of Split from the 1956 to 1997 period (blue columns) compared to 2017 (red line) (Margeta et al. 2019[*]).
According to Margeta et al., 2019, the city of Kaštela has experienced a 30 cm rise in seal level over the last hundred years and in response has developed a Coastal zone management plan foreseeing several adaptation scenarios to combat climate change. The plan defines the development of an action plan based on integrated coastal zone management and maritime spatial planning. The goal of the Coastal Plan is the sustainable development of the coastal area based on tourism with a focus on measures to protect the sea coast that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Some of the solutions proposed by the Plan to strengthen the resilience of the coastal strip and its infrastructure to climate change are already being implemented. These include infrastructure enhancements close to the heritage buildings within the old historical cores of the seven Kaštela municipalities that are the most endangered by the sea level rise (Figure 3).
Another interesting solution in the City of Solin aims to mitigate climate change impacts and protect important historical remains (Katić, M., Bucat, M. 2022[*]). The city is rich with monuments from the Roman period and the early mediaeval ages when it was the seat of the early Croatian rulers. One of the most important monuments of that period are the remains of the so-called Hollow church (dedicated to St. Peter and Moses), the coronation basilica of the Croatian King Zvonimir (11th century A.D.). While in the eleventh century, it was above the level of the adjacent river Jadro, the ground level of the church is today situated below the height of the river (Figure 4). The terrain is flooded due to several factors, among others due to underground springs and the rise in sea level, considering that the river´s sea estuary is not far from the remains of the church. Therefore, the city of Solin has developed a plan to displace the course of the river a few meters away to protect this important archeological site from flooding (Figure 5). Although being technically and financially challenging, the project is a good example of partnership and cooperation among different experts and stakeholders, for example archaeologists (from the Museum of Croatian archaeological monuments in Split), architects (from the architectural bureau “Arhitektonski kolektiv” in Split), the City of Solin administration and the Croatian legal entity for water protection “Hrvatske vode”.
Margeta, J.,Baučić, M., Vilibić, I., Jakl, Z. Petrić, L., Mandić, A., Grgić, A., Bartulović, H.,,Popić, N., Marasović, K.,Jajac, N., Rogulj, K., Ivić, M., Jovanović, N., Bačić, S., (2019), The city of Kaštela Coastal Zone Management Plan, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Geodesy, University of Split. Document financed by the ERDF, within the Interreg Med project CO-EVOLVE, pg. 16 (retrieved from: https://www.kastela.hr/projekti/plan-upravljanja-obalnim-podrucjem-grada-kastela).
Katić, M., Bucat, M. (2022). Budućnost starohrvatskih lokaliteta Rižinice i Šuplje crkve u Solinu, power point presentation from the 8th International Congress of the Historic Cities, Solin, 29/3/2022-1/4/2022.
At the end of March, stakeholders from Hoek van Holland and Bospolder-Tussendijken played a game to determine which interventions could be applied in the future to further develop cultural tourism in both districts. This game was obviously not just a ‘game’ but a serious game developed within the framework of the European project SmartCulTour.
SmartCulTour in Rotterdam
The Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam / Living Lab Rotterdam is one of the six living labs participating in the European project SmartCulTour, which is funded by the European Commission within the framework of the H2020 programme. The aim of the living labs is to encourage networking between tourism stakeholders in order to develop best practices and innovative solutions for sustainable cultural tourism, which can also be exchanged with other European regions.
Over the past months, several meetings have taken place with Rotterdam stakeholders to identify areas where there are opportunities to further support sustainable cultural tourism. Hoek van Holland and Bospolder-Tussendijken are the areas where a neighbourhood-oriented approach with stakeholders is being used to investigate what is needed to further develop cultural tourism. For example, in both Hoek van Holland and Bospolder-Tussendijken, neighbourhood tours were conducted to identify interesting places in the areas together with stakeholders. In addition, interviews were conducted with stakeholders to get a better idea of what cultural interventions might be of interest.
Hoek van Holland
On 24 March, various stakeholders, namely the municipality, local residents, cultural entrepreneurs and researchers used tools to think about the cultural tourist future of Hook of Holland. The meeting took place in MY Torpedo shed. A piece of cultural heritage, the shed was used for years to store sea mines and torpedoes. Since 2014, the shed has been used as a hotel, restaurant and meeting venue.
The meeting started with the use of the House of Quality tool. This is a tool to reach consensus on (policy) interventions that have the greatest chance of contributing to the wishes of a destination. The tool was used in Hoek van Holland to get more indication about which (policy) intervention has the greatest chance of success when it comes to making Hoek van Holland ‘better’. In addition, the tool helps in making rational decisions.
The ‘needs’ were jointly assessed. How important is accessibility to good jobs?’ or ‘How important is the development of a cultural identity? After rating the needs with a number, the current situation was mapped. How is the accessibility to good jobs at this moment? Subsequently, the stakeholders were asked what type of cultural interventions they considered important, after which the first results of the House of Quality were revealed. For example, the most important intervention that emerged was that there is a strong need in Hoek van Holland to develop »A cultural tourist offer that can attract visitors during the low season.» This intervention is in line with the need of, among others, the municipality of Rotterdam to transform Hoek van Holland into a four-season seaside resort in a sustainable manner.
After the deployment of the House of Quality, the SmartCultour Serious game was used as a tool. The serious game is a hybrid role-playing game that uses a combination of a digital dashboard, a mobile app and physical intervention cards. Players assume the role of regional stakeholders of cultural heritage and try to achieve their goals and needs by creating interventions or supporting someone else’s intervention. The players are of course given roles they do not fulfil in everyday life. This makes for surprising results. In Hoek van Holland, the most important outcome was the need for a practical strategy to achieve the four-season resort in a sustainable way. In the next session on 14 April, the Roadmapping tool will be used to determine together which steps need to be taken.
One week later, on the border between Bospolder-Tussendijken and Historisch Delfshaven, a meeting was held in which the stakeholders from Bospolder-Tussendijken set to work on interventions for their neighbourhood. At this meeting, too, a diverse range of stakeholders were present: municipal employees, local residents and entrepreneurs. In the library of Altstadt, a theatre and workshop for performing arts in the making, they first used the House of Quality tool together. This made it clear which interventions would have the greatest chance of success in Bospolder-Tussendijken. The most important intervention that emerged was that there is a need in Bospolder-Tussendijken for the development of new products and services in the area of tangible cultural heritage.
With this intervention in mind, the various stakeholders got to work together using the SmartCultour Serious game. The game showed that there is a strong need to bring together a number of existing social but also cultural components in a (public) space. On 18 May, the stakeholders will sit down together again to take the first steps, based on roadmapping, towards making this a reality in the future.
Want to know more about SmartCulTour? Check out the website.
In November 2021 and February 2022, two advisory board sessions were organized in Living Lab Scheldeland, with the explicit purpose of presenting the community-led ideation to local policy makers.
The first session on 22 November 2021 took place in hybrid fashion, both real-life in CC Binder in Puurs-Sint-Amands and via Microsoft Teams. In this session, the project ideation canvases of the three subgroups – as developed in the fourth workshop – were summarized in a PowerPoint presentation and presented to the advisory board by selected members of the workgroup. The three prospective project to be presented were:
“Scheldeland in beweging” (i.e. Scheldeland in motion): family-focused and group-based active weekends, linking different cultural heritage attractions and particularly focusing on one of the last remaining steam trains in Belgium;
“Scheldeland, goed gezien” (i.e. Scheldeland, well seen): a sensory route for people with visual impairments, with slow modes of transportation;
“Scheldeland, vanuit de hoogte” (i.e. Scheldeland from above): nature ‘hangouts’ with landmark values, particularly focusing on a lookout platform at the Scheldt river turn, linked to cycling routes and bird breeding grounds.
A House of Quality matrix was used by policy makers on various level in order to scare the different initiatives on different priorities and needs, leading to aggregated scores for the three proposals.
After the meeting, the scores were analyzed and reported to the participants, with “Scheldeland in beweging” receiving the highest average score. In a next advisory board session on February 2022, the different proposals and their respective scores were discussed and “Scheldeland in beweging” was unanimously seen as the initiative to prioritize, considering multiple recognized benefits. In the remainder of the meeting, a customer journey was mapped out in order to identify further needs in product development and help to plan future workshop meetings.
The training took place in Loarre’s Town Hall on 17 March with researchers and experts from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Representatives of different counties of Huesca took part in a parallel training session to test a tool designed to boost sustainable tourism in the province.
The SmartCulTour project, Smart Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Sustainable Development of European Regions, has organized an internal capacity-building event for representatives of the project’s six Living Labs to test creative tools to boost the tourist sector in each of the regions. The training was organized in two working sessions, one in the town of Loarre on 17 March and another on 18 March at CIHEAM Zaragoza. Participants came from Belgium, Finland, Croatia, Italy, Austria and Spain.
The aim of the first session was to provide the project’s partners with context about the tourist sector in Huesca. They worked on tools to favour engagement of stakeholders related to the tourist sector that would enable them to promote their area from a more emotional perspective, linking their past, present and future to their territory.
The second session was held at CIHEAM Zaragoza. Participants worked on methodologies to help territorial managers improve their decision-making by addressing initiatives that would cover the needs identified for development in European regions – including the province of Huesca – as sustainable cultural tourism destinations.
A parallel session was organized on 17 March for representatives of different counties, public entities, and businesses in the province of Huesca who did a pilot test of the SmartCulTour Game, one of the project outcomes expected to have the biggest territorial impact. The idea is to use the serious game approach to draw up policies and engage stakeholders, and at the same time learn about cultural tourism and potential interventions to make cultural tourism more sustainable for local communities, the environment and the business sector.
This training event lies within the activities of the SmartCulTour project, which aims to promote territorial development through sustainable cultural tourism. This model of tourism requires a redefinition of the classical cultural tourism, considering new demands derived from sustainability and the need for supply and demand metrics and impact assessment. The project intends to review theories and make an empirical validation of good practices in the natural surroundings and seek closer collaboration between the local stakeholders, facilitating the development of joint strategies and creating sustainable cultural tourism experiences.