H2020

SmartCulTour celebrates the Sustainable Gastronomy Day with a recipe book

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN General Assembly work to facilitate the observance of Sustainable Gastronomy Day, in collaboration with Member States, UN organizations and other international and regional bodies, as well as civil society, to observe the Day in raising public awareness of its contribution to sustainable development.

The UN General Assembly adopted on 21 December 2016 its resolution A/RES/71/246 and designated 18 June as an international observance, Sustainable Gastronomy Day.

The decision acknowledges gastronomy as a cultural expression related to the natural and cultural diversity of the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding across the globe, sustainable gastronomy – celebrating seasonal ingredients and producers, preserving wildlife as well as our culinary traditions – is today more relevant than ever.

As stated by the UNWTO, gastronomy is about much more than food. It reflects the culture, heritage, traditions and sense of community of different peoples. It is a way of promoting understanding among different cultures, and of bringing people and traditions closer together. Gastronomy tourism is also emerging as an important protector of cultural heritage, and the sector helps create opportunities, including jobs, most notably in rural destinations.

In SmartCulTour we wanted to pay a very special tribute to our local culinary traditions and have put together a booklet including recipes from the 6 Living Labs in the project: Huesca (Spain), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Scheldeland (Belgium), Split (Croatia), Utsjoki (Finland) and Vicenza (Italy).

UNESCO kicks off capacity-building actions in the Split and Utsjoki Living Laboratories

As foreseen by its role as leader of WP6, UNESCO has kicked off capacity-building actions in two of the six SmartCulTour Living Labs (LLs): the Metropolitan city of Split and the Municipality of Utsjoki. The subject and programme of the actions were defined in close consultation with the LLs stakeholders, with a co-designing approach.

The Split Living Lab recognized living heritage as one of the resources for strengthening cultural tourism and active community participation. Accordingly, UNESCO and the University of Split (as the LL manager) organized a series of workshops aimed at building the capacities of local stakeholders in strengthening the ICH-tourism synergy, with special focus on “Community-based inventorying and awareness raising”, which were prepared and delivered by the UNESCO-trained facilitator Ms Tamara Nikolic Djeric.

The training programme was organised in a hybrid format and was divided into four parts. The first online theoretical workshop presented the Convention, its ethical principles and methods of participatory inventorying, seeking to answer the question on how to ethically identify and inventory local knowledge for the development of cultural tourism.

During the second in-presence workshop, the Split Living Lab continued the discussion on inventorying with a special focus on community participation. Based on the participants’ inventorying activities, two ICH elements (Sirnica-making and Opanci-making) and two communities (Solin and Sinj) were identified as pilot projects for the development of the awareness raising campaign as second part of the workshop.

The third online meeting offered participants the opportunity to work on messages that they would like to convey through different awareness raising campaigns. The concepts of pride, continuity and intergenerational relations were widely articulated.

On this basis, the pilot project members and Duje Kundić, a Split-based artist and video-maker, met for the fourth workshop. Prior to the field-work, a scenario was developed, and semi-structured interviews undertaken with community members during the first shooting. The connection between the young artist and more experienced members of the local communities were recognized as key to awareness raising. “Relying on the power of intergenerational transmission, we hope that the results of this awareness raising campaign will be evident in the next future”, said the participants.

In the Municipality of Utsjoki, which also features a strong living heritage component mostly linked to the local Sàmi community, Living Lab participants opted for a pilot capacity-building programme on UNESCO’s approach to sustainable cultural tourism destination management, with a focus on how to ensure that the tourism sector contributes to the sustainable safeguarding and promotion of ICH, thereby preventing over commercialization, misappropriation and decontextualization.

During the first online workshop, held on 26 April 2022, Mr Peter Debrine, former coordinator of the World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism programme, delivered two introductory sessions, focusing respectively on “Understanding Tourism at your Destination” and “Communicating with visitors and heritage interpretation”. The presentation focused on UNESCO’s approach to destination management as a way to secure benefits for communities, safeguard their living heritage and enhance its values. For this to be achieved, it is key to invest in storytelling, namely the idea of a destination and its community telling their own story.

The presentation was followed by a participated discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of Utsjoki as a cultural tourism destination. The Sàmi culture was identified as an attractor, even though the issues of misappropriation and misrepresentation were raised by several participants. What emerged from their voices is that the tourism offer is too often tailored on visitors’ expectations and demand, in a way that disregards the local communities’ will. This is the case, for instance, of husky rides and igloos, which are widely requested by visitors although not being part of the Sàmi culture. These frictions should be addressed through an active participation of the local community in policy discussions on how and what kind of tourism should be developed in the region.

Taking the moves from the results of the online workshop, a follow-up session with the Utsjoki Living Lab will be held on 25 May next, focusing on how to develop a strategy for progressive change and add value through products, experiences, and services, as well as on innovative ways to communicate with visitors, including through digital media, marketing and promotion tools.

Local community in Solin preparing the traditional Easter cake during field visit. Photo credit: Tamara Nikolic Deric
Local community member in Sinj demonstrating the production of ‘opanci’ shoes during field visit. Photo credit: Tamara Nikolic Deric
Split workshop on community-based inventorying in developing sustainable cultural tourism led by Tamara Nikolic Deric, facilitator for the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Photo credit: Ante Mandic
1st online session of the capacity building workshop on sustainable cultural tourism destination management for the Utsjoki Living Lab. Photo credit: Costanza Fidelbo.

State-of-the-art in European cultural tourism policies and practices: Second SmartCulTour Webinar

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

Split Living Lab hosts an exchange visit

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.

You can read the details of this experience on Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam

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.

SmartCulTour will participate in a webinar on Rural tourism and marketing

Rural Connections is a set of three webinars involving RURITAGE and a group of European rural projects. The main objective of this series is to exchange knowledge and best practices between EU projects working on different aspects related to rural development, with the view to support RURITAGE partners in the implementation of their rural regeneration action plans. On 12 April four projects will join on a free webinar to share knowledge on Rural Tourism & Marketing: SmartCultour project will present the tools being used to identify needs and good practices around developing sustainable cultural tourism on the local level; EUROPETOUR project will demonstrate the urgency for interdisciplinary cooperation and the importance of valorising the intellectual property rights; SPOT project will illustrate an ongoing collaboration with Regional DMO, local DMO and the local Tourist Observatory (LMR); and IMPACTOUR will demonstrate how cultural tourism is leading to sustainable economic and social development; present policies, governance and business models that are being used to promote cultural tourism as well as tools for cultural tourism impact assessment to foster and forecast impact of tourism strategies.

You can register for the webinar and watch live on Facebook!

Inception Meeting to present the Living Lab of Huesca

On 4 March 2021 an online meeting was held to launch the Huesca Living Lab, one of the six Living Labs set up in Europe for the European project SmartCulTourfinanced by the European Commission in the framework of the H2020 Programme. The aim of the Living Labs is to encourage networking between stakeholders of the territory in the tourist sector to generate and identify good practices and innovative solutions for sustainable cultural tourism that can be exchanged with other European regions. To quote Raúl Compés, Director of CIHEAM Zaragoza: “This European project, in particular the Living Lab of Huesca, poses a good example of how to apply the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to the land of Aragon”. Compés also pointed out that SmartCulTour will facilitate the exchange of innovative tourist strategies between different European countries and share examples of Huesca’s good practices in cultural tourism. The meeting was organized by CIHEAM Zaragoza, coordinator of the Living Lab, and was held online with 35 experts in sustainable cultural tourism and cultural and rural development. It presented the main objectives and the Living Lab concept, characterized by a participatory approach that enables stakeholders to play an active role in the development of their Living Labs.

Following the presentation, Fernando Blasco, manager of TuHuesca and direct collaborator with the SmartCulTour project, provided contextual information about the tourist sector in the province of Huesca, pointing out the challenges faced as a result of the current pandemic. The Living Lab of Utsjoki (Finland) also presented their work, giving an idea of the international component of SmartCulTour.


Each Living Lab is set up as a practical community made up of local experts and a wide range of sectors and stakeholders in the field of tourism. The Living Labs have been chosen based on criteria of geographical relevance and representativity of different models of sustainable tourism.  During the project, each Living Lab will implement, test and assess new forms of managing sustainable cultural tourism by identifying and replicating good practices in the sector, through serious games, arts-based methods, services and social design techniques to improve collaboration between the culture sector and the tourist industry to develop a capacity-building process. The other Living Labs are situated in Rotterdam (Holland), Scheldeland (Flanders, Belgium), Utsjoki (Lapland, Finland),  Split (Croatia) and Vicenza (Italy).

Lapland Living Lab inception meeting

The inception meeting of the Lapland Living Lab was held on 12 February in Holiday Village Valle in Utsjoki with 8 on-site participants and 4 online participants. The meeting started with an introduction to the SmartCulTour project. Followed by this, UNESCO gave a presentation about their role in the project, which is to provide their own expertise in the development of sustainable cultural tourism to fit local needs in Utsjoki and other living labs of the project.

The participants wished to hear from UNESCO about how they have developed sustainable cultural tourism in the rest of the world, for example in tourism companies in other countries. These will be discussed in the future meetings.

Taking a participatory approach, we engaged the participants in discussing the development of sustainable cultural tourism using a number of design activities. A SWOT matrix was used to present the identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the tourism development in the Utsjoki living lab. We were able to identify the main needs for developing cultural tourism in Utsjoki.

The participants shared some existing good practices around the development of sustainable cultural tourism. A tree tool was used to evoke creative thinking on the opportunities and imagination of sustainable cultural tourism for the future of Utsjoki.

The participants saw the need to develop cultural tourism in Utsjoki, as it would bring new content to the municipality’s tourism and would not be as seasonal as nature-based tourism. We were able to discover the main needs and problems, for example, tourists don’t have enough information about existing services in Utsjoki, how to act in natural surroundings, how to dress appropriately, etc. The participants highlighted that one of the possible solutions would be an App that can gather all the necessary information about Utsjoki in the same place. That would make it easier for tourists to access the information.

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