General

A new materialist governance paradigm for tourism destinations

A new paper has just been published on the Journal of Sustainable Tourism authored by Xavier Matteucci, Jeroen Nawijn and Jennifer von Zumbusch: “A new materialist governance paradigm for tourism destinations”

Until the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of tourism had confronted many destinations with policy decisions that had impacted regional ecosystems and the quality of life of their resident population. To counter the threats driven by dominant tourism growth models, a number of tourism scholars have called for revisiting the philosophical foundation upon which tourism activities are developed.

Informed by debates in philosophy and the wider social sciences, including tourism scholarship, this conceptual paper, therefore, suggests an alternative governance paradigm for tourism destinations, which is articulated in four propositions that reflect a new materialist perspective. These propositions are a monist post-anthropocentric ontology, a participatory epistemology, resilient forms of tourism and participation as methodologies, and social eudaimonia as societal value. The core argument presented in the paper is that the Anthropocene requires tourism destinations to espouse alternative governance approaches drawing from ideas emerging from new materialist scholarship.

You can read the full article here.

Second working meeting of the Huesca Living Lab

The second working meeting of the Huesca Living Lab was held on 13 May 2021. The main objective of the session was for participants to contextualize the tourist sector in Huesca and set the scene for the development of a common work strategy to strengthen the sector in the province. A total number of 17 members of the Living Lab participated in the session representing, among others, public administration and territorial management, the agriculture and food sector and the environment.

The participatory methodology was followed, using online tools to facilitate the implementation of different dynamics. The session’s original agenda was:

  • 10:00   Introduction – Aims and methodology of the meeting
  • 10:05   Rapid guide on Miro
  • 10:15   Round of introductions
  • 10:35   Dynamic 1: SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). 30 minutes
  • 11:05   Dynamic 2: Identification of priorities and needs for the LL. 30 minutes
  • 11:35   BREAK
  • 11:45   Dynamic 3: Sharing good practices. 30 minutes
  • 12:15   Dynamic 4: Identifying opportunities. 30 minutes
  • 12:50   End of session – Conclusions and next steps.

The session had a dynamic pace and active participation from start to finish. The concepts of sustainability, tools, learning and co-creation emerged as key words in relation to the expectations of the Living Lab.

Al final de la sesión se marcó la ruta a seguir y contenidos de las siguientes sesiones de trabajo a lo largo de 2021, donde se identificarán iniciativas de éxito, bien del propio territorio o bien de otros países, con el objetivo de que sirvan como referencia para impulsar el sector en Huesca.

The following dynamics enabled debates and discussions highlighting the importance of creating networking and cooperation spaces such as those generated in the project. Participants expressed particular interest in working with the other Living Labs of the project to learn about and share the concerns and methodologies in the tourist sector.  Huesca  Living Lab is characterized by having a rich diversity of resources and tourist attractions but also faces significant challenges such as rural depopulation, climate change and the new social paradigm caused by the current health crisis.

At the end of the session, the itinerary was marked out for the continuation of activities as well as the contents for the following working sessions to be held throughout 2021, where succussful initiatives will be identified either from the home territory or other countries, which serve as a point of reference from which to boost the sector in Huesca.

The Role of UNESCO Cultural Heritage and Cultural Sector in Tourism Development: The Case of EU Countries

For over seventy decades, tourism and culture have been amongst the biggest growing phenomena worldwide. Tourism is considered a significant economic sector, relevant for inclusive economic growth, both globally and locally, and culture is recognized as a powerful driver of global sustainable development, with community-wide social, economic and environmental impacts. Thus, tourism and culture present significant driving forces of economic growth and sustainable development in many destinations, with shared values and adjacent ties between tourism and culture stakeholders.

Blanka Škrabic Peric, Blanka Šimundic, Vinko Muštra (University of Split, Croatia) and Marijana Vugdelija (International Medical Corps, Split, Croatia) have published the article “The Role of UNESCO Cultural Heritage and Cultural Sector in Tourism Development: The Case of EU Countries» in Sustainability, as part of the Special Issue “A European Perspective on Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Sustainable Development and Regional Resilience”. The paper estimates the impact of different cultural indicators on tourism development in 27 EU member states for the period 2008–2018, by using dynamic panel data. The results indicate that the number of UNESCO Heritage Sites do not have a significant influence on the number of tourism overnights, whereas there are significant positive effects on international tourism receipts and tourism employment. Moreover, the additional cultural sector specifics considered in the analysis; government expenditure on culture and employment in culture, showed to have a significant positive influence on all three tourism indicators used in the research. In addition, the research results indicate that the real GDP per capita and the level of human capital are significant drivers of tourism development.

This article is based on research conducted in the context of the SmartCulTour project that has received funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement no. 870708.

Uncovering the ‘state-of-the-art’ of cultural tourism interventions implemented in European cities and regions

By pursuing different interests and objectives, cultural tourism stakeholders determine a wide range of impacts on tourism destinations and their communities. For instance, private businesses are constantly investing resources (time, money, expertise, skills, etc.) to innovate the cultural tourism offer, determining multiple socio-economic impacts. Destinations can embrace a variety of governance settings and influence the decisions of public or private actors. Moreover, local and national governments, the European Union and other international organisations often grant financial resources for a wide range of programs and projects, aiming at uncovering, designing and implementing more sustainable forms of cultural tourism. Such a complex range of activities and the diverse spectrum of actors involved, stress the urgency to gather and frame more structured insights on what the impacts and success conditions of these initiatives and approaches are. Within SmartCulTour, the objective of Work Package 3 is to provide a ‘state-of-the-art’ of cultural tourism interventions implemented in European cities and regions, thereby identifying good practices and their impacts and success conditions. We are pursuing this objective via a multiple-steps approach:

  • The contribution of SmartCulTour partners allowed to collect preliminary insights concerning the context, actors, objectives and impacts of more than 100 interventions all over Europe. This revealed information about interventions initiated by different stakeholders, ranging from national and local governments to private businesses or NGOs. The variety of cultural tourism interventions that have been considered includes the introduction of new cultural products, marketing and communication activities, heritage interpretation, capacity building, visitor management plans and regulations, just to mention some examples. The gathered data also revealed preliminary insights on the impacts of the interventions in terms of social, economic and environmental sustainability of the destinations and the resilience of their communities. Focusing on the essential purpose of the interventions, the analysis of the collected data allowed to propose the following innovative taxonomy of cultural tourism interventions:
  • Starting form the proposed taxonomy and supported by a process of expert’s evaluations, we selected 18 interventions (out of the initial 108), to be further investigated via in-depth case studies. Aiming at interviewing at least 3 relevant stakeholders, each case study allowed to enrich the available data, especially concerning the economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts of the interventions, revealing additional insights in terms of success conditions and “lesson learnt” from these interventions.
  • SmartCulTour Deliverable D3.2, available here, contains a ‘portfolio’ with the 18 selected interventions, reporting essential information about the context, the initiators, the required resources, the impacts, success conditions and lesson learnt through the interventions. This selection of cases reflects the variety of interventions analysed, ranging from the development of entrepreneurial ideas to initiatives focused on interpreting the heritage of minorities or capacity building projects and initiatives that provided a common space, where the tourism and culture industries could meet, discuss and work with each other.
  • By the end of May 2021, also the SmartCulTour deliverable D3.1 will be available here, providing a comprehensive state-of-the-art of cultural tourism interventions implemented in European cities and regions, with an overview and additional insights on good practices, impacts and success conditions of cultural tourism interventions.

The outcomes of this process will be useful as a reference about the state-of-art of cultural tourism interventions in Europe and can be used to initiate and structure discussions concerning cultural tourism and sustainable development in a variety of urban and regional settings.

Culture: A year into Covid-19

At the outset of the pandemic, UNESCO took decisive steps to combat the impact on the culture sector through strengthening global policy dialogue and promoting the continued access to culture. In April last year, when UNESCO convened 130 ministers of culture in an online meeting to discuss the pandemic’s impact on the sector, it activated and laid down the foundations for an ongoing global policy dialogue with its Member States to carry forward consolidated action in ensuring the sector is supported in crisis response strategies.

Monitoring the impact of the pandemic has been essential to gauge the needs and gaps, and help Member States in shaping appropriate policies. This is also why UNESCO mobilized a broad network of actors within the scope of its work in culture to better understand the situation in order to develop adequate responses. UNESCO launched a wide range of monitoring tools to guide policymakers and practitioners in the various dimensions of cultural policies.

This month special issue of the UNESCO Culture & Public Policy Tracker titled «Culture: A year into Covid-19» was initially published last April as a weekly global policy monitor and later consolidated into a monthly format beginning in September 2020. The past year has seen each of UNESCO’s Culture Conventions and programmes develop unique monitoring mechanisms to track the impact of the pandemic, ranging from monitoring World Heritage site closures, to carrying out surveys amongst Member States, site managers, living heritage bearers, and local authorities, among others.

The monthly Tracker is produced by UNESCO to monitor culture in public policy with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. It highlights developments within national and regional contexts, as well as emerging debates on culture’s contribution to sustainable development. Drawing on a variety of sources, it provides a broad overview of cultural policy trends worldwide at the national, regional and international level and looks at ways in which countries integrate culture into other policy areas.

You can read the details and download the special issue here: https://en.unesco.org/news/tracker-culture-public-policy-special-issue

Report outlining the SRT framework: Deliverable 4.2 of H2020 project SmartCulTour

The team of experts from the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism (FEBT), University of Split, Croatia, have recently delivered a report striving to fulfil the SmartCulTour project objective of ‘establishing an improved indicator framework for cultural tourism impacts on a destination’s sustainability and resilience and linking them to an improved Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) model’. 

The Report D4.2 contains four sections, including the Introduction; the Empirical Analysis section – outlining the data collection process, methods, analysis and main conclusions following each part of the analysis; the TALC modelling section delivering a theoretical foundation for the TALC modelling together with its empirical verification; Conclusion and Reference sections. At the end of the Report, an Annex contains tables and figures to describe the attained results.

The obtained research results shed light on the relationship between cultural tourism development and destinations’ sustainability and resilience, taking into consideration destinations’ position in the TALC. The foundation of the analysis are frameworks of indicators related to cultural tourism development, sustainability and resilience of cultural tourism destinations corroborated in Report D 4.1. The empirical analysis was performed based on data collected for six case studies, i.e. six Living Labs involving thirty-five micro destinations, i.e. LAUs. Within this analysis, special focus was put on culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable tourism development and aiming to assess cultural tourism development impacts on a local scale, among others, by inaugurating indicators reflecting visitor and resident attitudes.

To analyse cultural tourism development influence on cultural tourism destinations’ sustainability both dynamic panel data and regression analysis were employed. The analysis in the resilience model was performed using only dynamic panel data methodology.

The results revealed that the cultural resources index (CulRes_INDEX) is without a doubt the most important in affecting both, sustainability and resilience of destinations under analysis, thus addressing the fundamental relevance of cultural resources from the cultural tourism policy standpoint. Considering that other indices such as those referring to cultural enterprises (CulEnt_INDEX), cultural governance and policy (CulGovPol_INDEX) and cultural tourism governance (CulGovTour_INDEX) are shown statistically significant with positive effects on regional resilience, and with diverging impacts on sustainability, elaboration of the obtained results requires an understanding of the broader regional development framework.

Given the requirement to associate the results of the analyses with the Living Labs life cycle stage (TALC), their movement along the life cycle curve has been modelled. The model indicated all LLs being in the stage of demand dependence, tending to reach the saturation stage unless restructuring policies and new products such as cultural tourism introduced.

Online inception meeting to present the Living Lab of Rotterdam

On April 15, 2021, an online meeting was held to present the Rotterdam Living Lab to various stakeholders from the region. The Living Lab of Rotterdam is one of six living labs participating in the European project SmartCulTour, funded by the European Commission under the H2020 program. 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.

In collaboration with city marketing organization Rotterdam Partners, people who in their daily work or life are involved with tourism, events and leisure but also for example with urban planning, were invited to the ‘inception meeting’. Theater Zuidplein, Rotterdam Festivals, the municipality of Rotterdam and IFFR, among others, were present at the online session. With a total of 15 participants, the online meeting started with a fun warm-up exercise: «By using your Microsoft Teams background, show us what you mean by cultural tourism in Rotterdam. ‘’This resulted a diverse range of colorful backgrounds and also provided a nice opening discussion where the various participants heard from each other what Rotterdam Cultural Tourism means to them.

Next, Ko Koens and Bert Smit of Breda University of Applied Sciences explained SmartCultour and the use and necessity of living labs. Ko Koens: «For a living lab to be successful, it is necessary to have the right participants at the table who know about opportunities, possibilities and problems in neighborhoods and also have knowledge of tourism, culture, urban development and infrastructure. We can’t wait to get to work with you in an interactive and fun way in the near future.»

To suit the action to the word, the next part of the meeting was to create a mood board in the app ‘mural’. The participants of the meeting were challenged to make a collage with photos that for them represented Rotterdam’s cultural tourism. Interesting boards emerged, which were compared and discussed with each other a little later. For example, the participants noted that the photos previously selected by the lab managers and project leaders lacked, among other things, maritime culture, which is so important to Rotterdam. In addition, the participants came to the conclusion that the 174 nationalities that Rotterdam abounds also determine the cultural tourist image of Rotterdam.

Finally, interesting interventions in the field of cultural tourism from other cities were shared. See for example the image below taken in Den Bosch during the Jheronimus Bosch year in 2016. The participants will meet again in early June in a design session. The focus will then also be on how tourism vision and strategy become reality in a particular district or maybe even how the reality of the district and the city should lead to a continuously evolving tourism strategy.

Photo Jherominus Bosch year 2016. Credits: Brabants Dagblad

Inception Meeting to present the Living Lab of Scheldeland

On 15 March 2021, the inception meeting of the Scheldeland Living Lab, one of six Living Labs established throughout Europe as part of the SmartCulTour H2020 project, was organized. This Living Lab will specifically focus on three municipalities within the wider tourism region of Scheldeland, namely Bornem, Dendermonde, and Puurs-Sint-Amands.

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the first meeting took place online and was organized by Toerisme Vlaanderen, coordinator of the Flemish lab, with further cooperation of KU Leuven as consortium partner. The initial meeting brought together 18 stakeholders, representing the heritage and tourism representatives of the three municipalities, the directors of the local cultural centres, representatives of the regional and provincial boards of tourism, the coordinator of Regional Landscape Schelde-Durme and various heritage experts.

After an initial round table and brief introduction to the project goals of SmartCulTour and the link of the Living Lab with other work packages and European collaborators, appreciative inquiry techniques were used to establish shared meaning of the region. People were asked what connects them personally to the place, with aspects such as the tides of the river and associated nature, and heritage – particularly Medieval castles and forts dating back to the world war – being top of mind.

Next, in smaller groups, participants were asked to think about an ambition and goal for the project, as well as criteria with which a potential successful project should comply. Finally, the brainstorm technique OPERA was adopted to come to a commonly shared project focus. This technique consists of five phases: (1) Own suggestions, (2) Pair suggestions, (3) Explanations, (4) Ranking, and (5) Arranging. After 15 initial suggestions, which due to many overlaps could be reframed into four clear propositions, the final focus for the project was decided as:

“The poetry of coming and going, linked to the ebb and flow of the Scheldt river as hook for the tourism development. The regional characteristics of the tidal river are translated through region-specific heritage such as the industrial heritage, the steam train, and the forts and castles.”

Inception Meeting to present the Living Lab of City of Split metropolitan area

The Inception meeting and the establishment of a Sustainable and resilient cultural tourism Living Lab (LL) was held on February 11, 2021. The session was led by Dr Ante Mandić, the LL manager and Dr Lidija Petrić, the WP and team leader at the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism, University of Split.

The LL was established as a part of the SmartCulTour HORIZON2020 financed project discussing how cultural tourism can foster sustainable and resilient development of European regions.

LL are community-based and objective-driven entities, incorporating multi-stakeholder participation and engagement and representing the perspectives and interests of all the key actors of the destination. The concept uses place-based community and participatory stakeholder approaches to identify local needs and main intervention priorities. This LL focuses on creating an incentive environment for the development of cultural tourism.

Engaging local stakeholders, including tourism boards, tourism businesses, cultural institutions, NGOs and communities, this LL will foster co-creation, co-innovations and bottom-up solutions to design and inaugurate interventions for leveraging cultural tourism at the destination level.

Currently, the LL involves fifteen stakeholders who actively participate in the development of LLs long-term goals and priorities.

Following the fruitful discussion during the inception meeting, the stakeholders were invited to participate in the focus groups to discuss the current state and the future of cultural tourism development. More information about the conclusions of the focus groups and the goals and priorities with this LL you can read in our next post.

SmartCulTour will participate in the “ReDiscover Europe” workshop organized by Impactour project

The EU-funded IMPACTOUR project organizes the workshop “ReDiscover Europe” next 9 May. IMPACTOUR is connecting cultural tourism stakeholders and researchers, envisaging new approaches and methods that will support European cultural tourism, reinforce a feeling of belonging, value minority cultures and promote Europeanisation. The project will elaborate on an advanced and adaptable methodology to estimate the impact of cultural tourism on EU regional economic growth. It will combine data analytics algorithms with machine learning and AI approaches to improve policies and actions on cultural tourism.

Bart Neuts from KU Leuven will participate in this Workshop representing SmartCulTour. The Workshop will provide a unique opportunity to discuss the role of sustainable Cultural Tourism in today’s Europe. Besides important keynote presentations the workshop will hold three key panel debates (with catalyst viewpoints from policy makers, scientific researchers, industry and cultural tourism practitioners) revolving around three themes:

>Theme 1: Post-COVID cultural tourism – what have we learned, what might we do differently, an opportunity for Big / SMART Data?

>Theme 2: People – accessibility, inclusion/exclusion, market needs

>Theme 3: Technology – digital gateways, mobile interactive content / co-curation, dynamic modelling and tourism management

You can register and read the details here: https://impactourworkshop.pt/