General

Deliverable 4.3 – Academic publications on sustainable cultural tourism, resilience and the TALC model

This deliverable provides metadata and abstracts of the publications residing under Work Package 4: “Assessing the impacts of cultural tourism”. Deliverable 4.3 aimed to provide “A minimum of 3 academic papers on sustainable cultural tourism, resilience, and the TALC model” and therefore focuses on sustainable cultural tourism indicators, the link between cultural tourism development, sustainability and resilience, and the integration of cultural tourism, sustainability/resilience, and the tourism area life cycle. The full papers are available in open access and can be found by following the DOI links provided.

The deliverable is a living document that, after initial submission, can be updated in case of additional scientific publications within the scope of Work Package 4.

You can read the full report here: Deliverable 4.3

Deliverable 3.3 – Academic papers on state-of-the-art of cultural tourism interventions

This deliverable provides metadata and abstracts of the publications residing under Work Package 3: “State-of-the-art of cultural tourism interventions”. Deliverable 3.3 aimed to provide “At least one academic paper regarding the state-of-the-art of cultural interventions” and therefore focuses on identified best practices and impacts and success conditions of cultural tourism interventions. The full papers are available in open access and can be found by following the DOI links provided.

The deliverable is a living document that, after initial submission, can be updated in case of additional scientific publications within the scope of Work Package 3.

You can read the full report here: Deliverable 3.3

Deliverable 2.3 – Academic publications on definitions and framework for cultural tourism

This deliverable provides metadata and abstracts of the publications residing under Work Package 2: “Theoretical development”. Deliverable 2.3 aimed to provide “A minimum of 2 academic papers on the definition of cultural tourism for urban and regional tourism and framework for future cultural tourism” and therefore focuses on the conceptual clarifications provided during WP2, aiming at redefining/upgrading the concept of cultural tourism and framing it within current and future trends. The full papers are available in open access and can be found by following the DOI links provided.

The deliverable is a living document that, after initial submission, can be updated in case of additional scientific publications within the scope of Work Package 2.

You can read the full report here: Deliverable 2.3

Visitor survey in Utsjoki during an event week

The University of Lapland took part in Utsjoen Lumo event on the 9th of July at Onnelantörmä in Utsjoki. The event included live music shows, theatre shows, one author interview, and Sámi handicrafts and local food for sale. The event was part of the Utsjoen Lumo theme week 5.–11.7.2021, which included several cultural activities during the week. While participating in the cultural events, the University of Lapland conducted a visitor survey for the tourists who were visiting Utsjoki.

The purpose of the visitor survey was to gather insights from tourists for cultural tourism development in Utsjoki. The survey included among others questions of tourist’s purposes of their trip, expectations for cultural attractions, and ideas for cultural tourism development. The impact of COVID-19 on personal traveling habits was also inquired. The timing for this survey was ideal since it is traditionally the high season in tourism in Utsjoki. Salmon fishing is one of the major reasons for tourists to come in Utsjoki, but for this summer the salmon fishing in Teno river is restricted. Surprisingly there has been the same amount of tourists as previous years according to tourism entrepreneurs.

Although the visitor survey was small scale, the contents of it were insightful and useful. Utsjoki’s beautiful nature is often the main reason for traveling to Utsjoki according to the survey results. The cultural offer, in general, was seen important as well in a destination. More information for tourists should be gathered in an easily accessible place. The survey was also offered for holiday villages to distribute for their customers.

UNESCO tailors capacity-building opportunities to the SmartCulTour Living Labs through bilateral consultations

As Leader of Work Package 6 on “Sustainable cultural tourism laboratories (Labs)”, UNESCO coordinates the six SmartCulTour Living Labs (LLs), including by providing support in the identification of meaningful activities, methodologies and interventions to be implemented in each of them. Within this framework, UNESCO is also responsible for raising awareness and developing capacities of concerned stakeholders for the implementation of relevant international standards, using the methodologies and tools developed in the framework of the Organization for sustainable cultural tourism management and development.

Such mission appears even more relevant in face of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has provoked a rapid decline of tourism in most countries, affecting the ability of cultural sites, attractions and experiences to function properly. The situation remains volatile with different countries and regions experiencing a different scenario of impact and recovery.

Concurrently, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided momentum to rethink existing models and steer post-COVID efforts towards cultural tourism that defines the destination, whilst reflecting UNESCO’s values and providing benefits to communities. The rebound of tourism should be an opportunity to spur innovation and test new approaches to support communities in the recovery, transforming destinations away from outdated and unsustainable models.

Since the early days of the COVID crisis, UNESCO has been working on the identification of new measures for a responsible and sustainable restart of cultural tourism, in the conviction that destination management will need to adapt, and knowledge sharing and learning will be needed to allow for more resilient responses from local communities.

Destinations should be able to shape their respective tourism systems, customising them to balance competitiveness with the needs and priorities of local communities and the sustainability of cultural resources, through a comprehensive Build Back Better (BBB) vision.

To stimulate discussion on these subjects, while informing LLs’ stakeholders about the different capacity-building opportunities that UNESCO will offer them throughout the project’s lifespan, UNESCO organized on 27 April an online Awareness-raising webinar on UNESCO’s capacity-building opportunities for SmartCulTour Living Labs (recording is available here). Attending participants included SmartCulTour Consortium partners, Lab Managers, and local stakeholders from the six Labs.

This awareness-raising webinar was intended to give participants an overview of the tools, measures and approaches that UNESCO has developed to support the sustainable management of cultural resources at territorial level, with a focus on cultural tourism development, and an outlook towards the post COVID-19 recovery. In particular, the panellists presented some specific UNESCO’s methodological approaches that can be functional to the sustainable integration of culture and tourism into local development interventions, and notably introduced UNESCO’s vision on sustainable and resilient cultural tourism, the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach, and UNESCO’s programme on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

To complement the webinar, an additional presentation was made available by UNESCO on its approach to sustainable destination management, alongside concrete tools supporting its design and implementation (recording is available here).

Following up to these activities, UNESCO has planned a series of bilateral consultations with all Living Labs, to further discuss specific needs and priorities and identify tailored capacity-building activities to be implemented. Capacity-building actions will start at the end of the year and are expected to run throughout 2022. They will address local skills gaps, aimed at empowering local stakeholders by equipping them with the knowledge and tools that may support the planning and design of interventions contributing to the sustainable development of cultural tourism at the destination level, both within and beyond the lifecycle of the Labs. Each capacity-building package will be designed in accordance to the local cultural resources that are more relevant to the Living Lab destination and its local community, adopting a two-folded approach towards protecting cultural and social values while promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Download the programme of the webinar here

Watch the Awareness-raising Webinar:

Watch the lecture on UNESCO’s approach to sustainable destination management:

Third hybrid working meeting of the Utsjoki living lab

The third hybrid working meeting of the Utsjoki Living Lab (LL) was held by the University of Lapland on 8th July 2021. The main objective of the meeting was to engage the local stakeholders in developing the LL’s communication and visibility plan, including tailored communication tools and channels such as a dedicated blog on the SmartCulTour website. Although only five participants were able to attend the meeting due to the tourism peak season, each of them represented different local stakeholders, specifically, the Municipality of Utsjoki, the Sámi Parliament of Finland, the local tourism entrepreneurs, the local service industries, and the local reindeer herders. They offered valuable and constructive ideas on how to enhance the LL’s communication and visibility. During the meeting, a Utsjoki LL tailored roadmap, the DSS – also known as the SmartCulTour Platform, and the SmartCulTour Game were also introduced to the participants, in order to keep them informed of the latest developments in the project.

There were several highlights regarding the LL’s communication and visibility plan:

·  The representative of the Municipality of Utsjoki suggested that a storytelling video about the local culture can be created to provide important information to guide tourists during their visit.

·  The representative of the local reindeer herders suggested information giving on the local handicrafts which have been exhibited in the local museums and/or village house, as this would allow tourists to learn more about the local culture.

·  The representative of the Sami Parliament suggested the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance as a possible channel through which the SmartCulTour project and the Utsjoki LL could be presented.

·  The participants discussed the rights for filming the local reindeers. It was emphasised that the reindeers owned by the natives, herders, and any private parties should not be filmed without their permission.

The meeting closed with the participants planning the LL’s next steps to be taken in the autumn.

Providing policymakers and practitioners with a Toolkit for cultural tourism change in Europe

The WP7 of SmartCulTour is specifically designed to engage with diverse stakeholders through a participatory approach using of a set of service design and arts-based tools/methods. The aim is to improve inclusiveness and resilience for cultural tourism change in Europe. There are four tasks under the WP7:

  • Task 7.1 Co-design workshops with cultural tourism stakeholders
  • Task 7.2 SmartCulTour Game
  • Task 7.3 SmartCulTour Toolkit for cultural tourism policy development
  • Task 7.4 Strategic roadmap for cultural tourism change

At the current stage of the project, the SmartCulTour partners are focusing on Task 7.1, which aims to assist the living labs (LLs) by suggesting, testing and facilitating the use of a set of tools and methods that can potentially help cultural tourism policy development. To achieve this aim, there are two main objectives:

  • Co-designing a menu that utilises a set of service design and art-based tools/methods for cultural tourism stakeholder consultation and engagement, and thus potentially influencing the policy development of cultural tourism.
  • Carrying out a series of participatory workshops in the LLs with a wide range of local stakeholders. The workshops will implement and further develop the menu using a bottom-up approach.

Figure 1 The double-diamond model in the SmartCulTour living lab context

Task 7.1 lies in the first part of the double-diamond, that is, identifying and clarifying the needs of each LL (see Figure 1). Therefore, the set of tools/methods that the SmartCulTour partners are developing will contribute to the first diamond, and the focus is placed on empathy building and empathic engagement. Taking into consideration the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the set of tools/methods will support the use in both physical and virtual environments. More importantly, the LLs will be engaged in co-designing the set of tools/methods in order to ensure that the end results meet their diverse needs and serve as a menu for the local stakeholders to choose. In most of the LLs, experiments have been done on how to do this in a participative way (see Figure 2), especially in relation to stakeholder engagement but also in identifying the qualities they can bring to the table as experts on (aspects of) their destination, but also the expertise WP7 specialists should bring. The menu is expected to be available as D7.1 on the SmartCulTour website by August 2021. It will serve as a living document, constantly evolving to keep pace with the LLs’ needs throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Figure 2 Engaging participants using service design tools and methods in the Utsjoki living lab

For Task 7.2 the first game prototypes have been tested. In game development, getting the aims and rules right are crucial to make a serious game attractive but also to make sure the discussion is on the topic we need. In the game, players will take on different roles in developing cultural tourism in a destination by exploring several development scenarios together from a multitude of stakeholder viewpoints. We expect to have it ready on schedule and look forward to playing it! Figure 3 presents a recent prototype of the game.

Figure 3 The recent SmartCulTour game prototype.

Task 7.3 and 7.4 in many ways are a follow up to 7.1, WP3, 4 &5 and will evolve in the next 6 months to a balanced set of tools need for cultural tourism policy development. Obviously, the LLs are excellent playgrounds for experiments in how to use and combine the tools developed in (and outside) SmartCulTour.

Cultural tourism interventions ‘to interpret understand and disseminate’

Within the SmartCulTour Work Package 3, we proposed a taxonomy of cultural tourism interventions based on their ‘essential purpose’ (see here). One of the identified categories concerns interventions ‘to interpret understand and disseminate’. The urgency of interpreting and understanding cultural heritage clearly emerged from our data analysis, especially in association with contexts characterised by forgotten or neglected cultural heritage or heritage subject to contested or dissonant interpretations. Often, the presence of such dissonant heritage is determined by profound socio-economic and cultural changes a destination went through (e.g., the transition to a new socio-economic paradigm, conflicts, tragic events, socio-cultural or political tensions, etc.). 

The analysis conducted within Work Package 3 included a large database of interventions and a selected number of case studies. Concerning this category of the taxonomy, the case studies focused on 3 specific interventions:

  • The ‘crazy guides of Nowa Huta’: an entrepreneurial initiative to provide alternative tours in Nowa Huta, a district of Krakow (Poland) created during the Soviet Union as utopian socialist ideal city, a unique example of architecture and urban planning of that period. Disagreements among locals in the interpretation of this heritage determined a fracture in the society, between the part willing to silence the socialist heritage and the part willing to understand it better. The crazy guides of Nowa Huta approached the interpretation of this heritage with forms of ‘edutainment’ (combing education and entertainment), supported by appropriate storytelling skills and narrative techniques. They were able to provide a less divisive interpretation that contributed to healing fractures existing in the local community.

  • Migrantour: now active in several European cities, the Migrantour network organises  ‘Intercultural walks’ through neighbourhoods shaped and influenced by migrations. The walks are facilitated by ‘intercultural companions’, locals with a migration background. Migrantours provide new perspectives and interpretations of the historical and contemporary meanings of migrations for European cities, helping to understand how migrations and migrants contributed to their evolution.

  • Pakruojis Synagogue: Pakruojis is a small town in the north of Lithuania, where the Jews settled in 1710, contributing to the local economy and social life of the town. Due to the tragic events of the past century, nowadays there is no Jewish community in the village anymore, making it difficult to maintain their cultural heritage and ensure its appropriate interpretation. The renovation of the old Pakruojis synagogue included the realisation of an exhibition about Pakruojis’ Jewish culture and history and the creation of a cultural centre available for the local community. Therefore, the Synagogue not only became an element of attraction for cultural tourists, but also a place of education, aggregation and cultural encounter.

The above-mentioned examples show that the ‘reason why’ of this type of intervention often relies on the usage of cultural tourism as a viable instrument to promote interpretations of forgotten/neglected heritage or heritage subject to unclear or dissonant interpretations. Our analysis revealed how the ability to listen to people, embracing an open-minded and bottom-up approach, together with communication and storytelling skills are often crucial resources to effectively implement such interventions. Besides the necessary financial means, also the support of scientific and academic knowledge (e.g., historians, sociologists or anthropologists) is often very important. These interventions generally lead to substantial positive impacts from a social (e.g., social cohesion, social inclusion of minorities, sense of community) and cultural (awareness & knowledge of cultural heritage, intercultural understanding, reconciliation of dissonant heritage interpretations) point of view. Furthermore, a moderate positive economic impact was also observed (jobs, incomes and business opportunities), although sometimes limited to a reduced number of (local) individuals or businesses. Several success factors also became evident from the analysis, namely the availability of financial resources, the ability to listen and let territories/people express and narrate themselves and the capacity to implement engaging forms of communication (for instance, through storytelling).

Resident Support for Tourism Development: Application of a Simplified Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale on Developing Destinations in Flanders

Bart Neuts (KU Leuven), Senne Kimps (Visit Flanders) and Jan van der Borg (University Ca’Foscari of Venice) have authored an interesting article that focuses on the relatively underdeveloped Scheldeland region in Flanders (Belgium), where a strategic goal is to leverage cultural and natural heritage to boost development.

Via a resident questionnaire based on a simplified version of the Resident Empowerment through Tourism Scale (RETS), the authors have identified support for tourism development and deconstructed the drivers of this support. The objective was to empirically validate the research instrument and underlying theory in a situation of relative ‘undertourism’ and prospective future growth. The questionnaire collected 2058 responses, and the partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) results indicated that support for tourism, which was generally high across the seven municipalities, was mainly affected by social, psychological, and political empowerment, with personal economic benefits not playing a significant role. These results show that social exchange theory (SET) as a theoretical basis for potential tourism support has limited validity in currently underdeveloped destinations. Secondly, comparatively speaking, the municipalities with the lowest tourism development were least supportive of tourism growth, with an increase in tourism intensity seemingly leading to increasing support due to a higher awareness of accrued benefits through tourism

You can read the full paper here: Resident Support for Tourism Development

Deliverable 3.1 – State of the art of cultural tourism interventions

SmartCulTour Work Package 3 intends to first provide more clarity and in-depth knowledge on the state of art of ‘cultural tourism interventions’. Cultural tourism interventions are interpreted as a variety of initiatives, of different nature, potentially impacting on cultural tourism destinations and initiated by a wide variety of stakeholders (public, private, mixed). The fragmented range of possibilities and the diverse spectrum of involved actors stress the urgency to gather and frame structured insights on what are the typologies of cultural tourism interventions, what are their objectives, impacts and success conditions.

The collection and analysis of data concerning 107 cultural tourism interventions implemented all over Europe allowed to propose a taxonomy based on 5 ‘essential purposes’, therefore distinguishing between interventions:

  • To protect, restore, safeguard and promote;
  • To develop and innovate;
  • To interpret, understand and disseminate;
  • To involve and connect;
  • To manage and influence.

Through an expert’s evaluation process and using the proposed taxonomy as a frame, 18 interventions were selected and further analysed through case studies. This selection also fulfils the SmartCulTour’s aim to identify good practices that seem especially innovative and significant for the project goals. Therefore, they can also be of particular interest for the SmartCulTour Living Labs. The case studies reported insights gathered through desk research and semi-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders, focusing especially on expected, perceived and/or measured impacts of the interventions, success conditions and their contribution to sustainable development.

A combination of insights from the case studies and data regarding the database of 107 interventions allowed to describe the ‘state of the art of cultural tourism interventions’ and outline a framework that shows the different types of cultural tourism interventions, their impacts and success conditions. The framework is more than just a summary. It is a starting point for engaging stakeholders in conversations or decision-making processes concerning cultural tourism interventions. Therefore, it might also be a valuable tool in the context of the SmartCulTour Living Labs, to stimulate and inspire reflections on cultural tourism and sustainable development.

You can read the full report here: Deliverable 3.1