Horizon 2020 online networking workshop

A Horizon 2020 online networking workshop was held on 27th November, involving SMARTCULTOUR, IMPACTOUR and SPOT projects, as the starting point of the creation of a collaboration network that could be built upon in the coming years. It provided a first step to get to know the colleagues from IMPACTOUR and SPOT. Concerning the main topic, the workshop addressed and discussed Cultural Tourism and its future in a 5-year time horizon, taking into consideration current potential and barriers. The workshop was followed by a group debate and a plenary session to discuss the conclusions.  In this context, all the participants shared opinions, concerns and visions for the future of Cultural Tourism, and many aspects ranging from sustainability through quality and accessibility to innovation and community involvement were brought up. In the end, the participants agreed on a couple of key findings that need further consideration when thinking about the development of cultural tourism and agreed to intensify the cooperation between the three Horizon 2020 projects for mutual benefit.

CIHEAM Zaragoza participated in this workshop as leader of the SmartCulTour communication workpackage and representing the Living Lab of Huesca, one of the six living labs that are being established in several European regions and that are meant to set up a community of practice related to the main aspects of Cultural Tourism in Europe. 

Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia

A new paper has been published in the special issue of Sustainability – “A European Perspective on Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Sustainable Development and Regional Resilience”- that is co-edited together with the European projects SPOT, Impactour and Ruritage.

The article is titled «Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Rural Development. Case Study: Southern Moravia» and presents a study whose main objective is to find out whether cultural tourism could be a driver of rural development in the selected area and in general. Three districts in the South-Moravian Region, Znojmo, Břeclav, and Hodonín, situated in the rural borderland with Austria and Slovakia represented the study area. Both geographical and sociological methods were used to gather evidence for cultural tourism in that study. Firstly, attractiveness analysis of the area defined for cultural tourism took place. Next, factors influencing the potential for cultural tourism affecting rural development in South Moravia were evaluated. Finally, synergistic relations were discussed. In the territory, many forms of tourism intersect.

Based on the results, it can be stated that cultural tourism can hardly be the main driver of rural development after the decline of agriculture because the region’s economy has branched out in several directions. However, it can be an important complementary activity that yields both economic and non-economic benefits.

The article is available online here:

SmartCulTour will be presented at WIRE2020

This week (4-6 November 2020) the University of Split, Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism, (Croatia) will host the 11th edition of the “Week of Innovative Regions in Europe“ (WIRE 2020) where SmartCulTour Project will be presented.

WIRE (Week of Innovative Regions in Europe) is the main European policy forum for innovation and regional development. The conference provides a platform for policy makers, public authorities, knowledge centers and enterprises to discuss research and innovation (R&I) practices, challenges and opportunities throughout the European regions, with a direct view on the current and future EU funding programs.

Due to the exceptional circumstances (COVID-19), the event will be organised online, under the agenda of the Croatian EU Council Presidency 2020, with the support of European Commission, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, and relevant national authorities: Ministry of Science and Education, Split-Dalmatia County and City of Split.

The Presentation of the SmartCulTour project will be under session 3.1 of the programme and will count on the participation of Lorena Gómez (moderator and speaker), Jan van der Borg (speaker), Jeroen Klijs (speaker), Lidija Petrić (speaker) and Ante Mandić (rapporteur).

For more information visit WIRE2020 site

Scheldeland Living Laboratory kicks off

A stakeholder meeting was held on October 13th for the Scheldeland Living Laboratory to present SmartCulTour project, identify regions for the resident survey and work towards establishing the living lab. The meeting was attended by the regional coordinator of Scheldeland and Regionaal landschap Schelde-Durme as well as representatives from Toerisme Vlaanderen (consortium partner), KU Leuven (consortium partner), Province of Eastern Flanders, and Province of Antwerp. Now the project will also be taken up in the relevant strategic plans of the regions.

The overarching goal of the Living Lab is to support the development of cultural tourism through bottom-up development. The Lab specifically aims to promote a broader view on culture and heritage which is currently, specifically in a Flemish context, rather narrowly focused on built urban heritage. Combining industrial heritage in this region with slow tourism products (walking, cycling, or boating) and local gastronomy can cater a more local and transformational tourist experience.

SmartCulTour Advisory Board Meeting

Last 24 September the SmartCulTour Advisory Board met online to take stock of the project’s progress and discuss the upcoming deliverables and research phases. Part of the discussion revolved, as could not be otherwise, around the pandemic and the effects of Covid-19 both on the project and on tourism dynamics.

The project started pre-Covid and then experienced a pandemic that has changed many parameters. Research should continue to identify how the situation keeps on changing, and how potential opportunities can be leveraged to prevent a future return to overtourism. It is clear that flexibility and pragmatism are essential in adapting to these new circumstances which no doubt will result in shifts in behaviour, safety measures, destinations, etc. and will test resilience and sustainability. Working together with stakeholders and entrepreneurs is as important as ever so that practical solutions can be generated.

The SmartCulTour Advisory board is composed of Jan van der Borg (KU Leuven), Bart Neuts (KU Leuven), Eduardo Santander (Executive Director of the European Travel Commission, ETC), Anouk Van Eekelen (Destination Manager Development at Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, NBTC), Peter Debrine (Senior Project Officer at UNESCO World Heritage Centre), Leo van den Berg (former Director at EURICUR, Professor of Regional Economics at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Member of the Urban Competitiveness Group) and Cécile Houpert (European Projects Officer at Eurocities) who could not attend the meeting.

Deliverable 4.1 – Report on the most appropriate indicators related to the basic concepts of sustainability, resilience and cultural tourism

SmartCulTour project aims “to propose and validate innovative, community-led interventions directed at sustainable cultural tourism development contributing to the EU regions’ resilience and inclusiveness”. Among several priorities, the objective number two strives to “establish an improved indicator framework for cultural tourism impacts on sustainability and resilience and link these to an improved Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) model“.

Within the work package (WP) 4, several tasks dedicated to the fulfilment of this objective have been outlined. This report reflects on Task 4.1. Identification of the indicators related to the basic concepts defined in WP2.

To deliver our conclusions, a systematic review of relevant literature, related to the concepts of sustainability, resilience and cultural tourism has been conducted. Particular reference was paid to the indicators most often used to measure these concepts. Additionally, the Report contains a review of the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) – related literature. The conclusions of the TALC analysis will have an important role in the delivery of further tasks within this WP. With regard to each analysed concept, a proposal of the prospective methodology to be used in the Deliverable D4.2 is given, with the aim to create Sustainability-Resilience-TALC framework for cultural tourism destinations.

The report contains four sections, including the introduction; the methodology section – outlining the process of systematic review; the analysis section – delivering the overview of indicators related to fundamental concepts and guidelines for the selection of relevant indicators, including the conclusion after each part of the analysis, pointing out main findings; and reference section. At the end of the report there is also an Annex containing tables with elaborated sources of literature retained after primary selection based on relevant data bases
You can read the full Deliverable here: Deliverable D4.1

Deliverable 2.1 – Theoretical framework for cultural tourism in urban and regional destinations: First review of key cultural tourism concepts and trends

Sustainable cultural tourism can be achieved through democratic participatory planning processes which are context specific. A key challenge for peripheral European regions lies in crafting well designed cultural tourism programmes which will meet the needs of the residents and tourists while preserving regions’ fragile cultural assets. Thus, it is important to frame cultural tourism within a larger socio-cultural, environmental and economic debate, ensuring a more equitable development.

In this context, a report has just been submitted by SmartCulTour partner Modul University Vienna (Austria) presenting a first review of the key cultural tourism concepts and trends which will help to identify a set of sustainability and resilience indicators. These indicators will be a useful tool for stakeholders so that they can plan, monitor and evaluate sustainable cultural tourism developments.

The report contains an updated definition of cultural tourism, a new definition of sustainable cultural tourism destination, a comprehensive review of literature on cultural tourism concepts, trends and current management challenges, and an outlook towards the future of cultural tourism in Europe. You can read the full Deliverable here: Deliverable D2.1

FEBTS’ team meeting to discuss WP4 activities

The FEBTS team met last 19 June in Split (Croatia) to discuss WP4 activities related to the selection of the most appropriate indicators. Based on concepts such as cultural tourism, cultural tourism assets and products, cultural tourism impacts, cultural tourism destinations, sustainability and resilience, etc. an extensive review of literature and data bases will be used to explore what types of indicators are most commonly applied and which ones may be the most appropriate for measuring these concepts.

Much of the data that is currently used to measure impacts of tourism is highly fragmented and/or incomplete, with unclear and/or different definitions for key concepts. Furthermore, there is a lack of data on excursionists, on new formats of accommodation, on transportation and accessibility, etc. WP4 will first explore how to optimally use existing data and data collection methods, and supplement these with new (qualitative and quantitative) methods, thereby making use of recent ICT developments (big data, smart cities).

WP4 is lead by the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism (FEBTS) of the University of Split (Croatia) with the contribution of KU Leuven (Belgium), Ca’Foscari Università di Venezia (Italy), UNESCO and MODUL University in Vienna (Austria).

A European Perspective on Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Sustainable Development and Regional Resilience

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050) within the section «Sustainability of Culture and Heritage» has been set up as a collaboration between SmartCulTour, IMPACTOUR, SPOT and RURITAGE H2020 Projects.

Within the framework of Europe’s Smart Specialization Strategies, it is important to identify to which extent and under which considerations a cultural heritage strategy can support an effective and sustainable regional development. Focusing specifically on European regions, this Special Issue gives particular relevance to the development of robust measurement frameworks on the sustainability and resilience of cultural heritage (tourism) destinations, past and future trends in transformative cultural tourism, successful interventions in cultural heritage management, and community-based management and planning.

Cultural heritage holds many tangible and intangible values for local communities and society in general. Particularly from a socioeconomic perspective, the presence of cultural heritage resources might serve to improve regional development through cultural tourism, event organization, the attraction of creative industries and other businesses, etc. However, notwithstanding the relative abundance of cultural heritage resources—in varying degrees of scope—there are substantial differences in the current application of culture-led development strategies across European regions.

The Special Issue is edited by Dr. Bart Neuts (KU Leuven, Belgium), Prof. Dr. João Martins (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal), Prof. Dr. Milada Šťastná (Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic) and Dr. John Martin (University of Plymouth, UK) and will provide a state-of-the art overview of contemporary cultural heritage management within Europe, providing theoretical contributions as well as practical toolkits and case studies. Contributions will help to frame cultural heritage as a resource for the creation of sustainable and resilient territories.

Manuscripts can be submitted until 15 January 2021 here: by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form.

For more information:


European Research project to support regional development through sustainable cultural tourism

SmartCulTour (Smart Cultural Tourism as a Driver of Sustainable Development of European Regions) is a four-year project, funded by the European Union in the frame of Horizon 2020. The goal of SmartCulTour is to support 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.

SmartCulTour redefines cultural tourism through a contemporary lens and provides a comprehensive measurement framework for supply, demand and impacts. In order to support knowledge-led destination management, a decision-support system (DSS) will be developed for wide-scale monitoring purposes across European regions. The DSS will synthesize both traditional and non-traditional data sources, the latter particularly related tobig data analytics, thereby assisting smart regional development. Besides a contribution to conceptual development and cultural tourism measurement, the main objective of SmartCulTour relates to the facilitation of community-led rural development through field experimentation in 6 living labs. Prior to these living labs, a comprehensive desk research will identify significant sustainable cultural tourism policies, their impacts and critical success factors. These best cases will inspire a series of possible local interventions. Within the living labs, novel creative approaches to stakeholder engagement are tested, notably arts-based methods, serious games, and service design which will help to provide local context and support. A toolkit will be designed to help destinations implement local actions towards sustainable cultural tourism development. SmartCulTour will therefore contribute to theory development, empirical validation of best practices within a living labs setting, and procedural development, particularly by providing European regions with a set of strategies to optimally engage with stakeholders and co-create sustainable cultural tourism experiences.