cultural heritage

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

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

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: www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form.

For more information: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/Regional_Resilience