Living Lab

SmartCulTour celebrates the World Environment Day

World Environment Day on 5 June is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1973, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet.

On this occasion, our colleagues from the Scheldeland Living Lab have prepared the following text:

The great poet Emile Verhaeren called it ‘Wild and beautiful river Schelde’. His grave monument can be found in Sint-Amands, one of the many places where our new festival STROOM will be held during its first edition. The river was a source of inspiration for him more than a hundred years ago, and the Schelde remains so today.

Water is the origin of all life on our planet. It has an unprecedented power that gives life, and in the case of the Schelde Valley, nourishes a magnificent nature reserve. But water can also be devastating, as we saw last summer in the east of our country.

The Schelde valley is the setting for the Sigmaplan, the water management plan to protect our regions from flooding. As such, it is at the center of the climate discussion, a discussion that cannot be held by scientists and politicians alone. To really turn the tide, a broad social movement is needed. The indispensable voice of the artists can be heard within this movement.

STROOM originated with the Ghent Festival of Flanders, a festival that has kept its finger on the pulse of society for 65 years. Once again, we are linking our broad view of the world to our own environment and tackling a relevant theme. The Schelde region is our dream biotope for this new project.

Together with Rivierpark Scheldevallei, we are unlocking the hidden pearl of open space where nature and heritage abound. We follow the meandering river Schelde between Ghent and Antwerp. The journey takes us past picturesque villages and magnificent castles, which are connected by beautiful walking and cycling paths. STROOM lets artists speak, in a unique symbiosis between nature, culture, heritage and tourism. Together with the public and numerous local partners, we look forward to a sustainable future for this area, for our country and for the planet.

Veerle Simoens (Artistic and General Manager)

Sophie Detremmerie (Festival manager)

Utjoski, Scheldeland and Huesca Living Labs share success stories of sustainable cultural tourism

On 24 and 25 May, Utjoski’s living lab hosted one of the six exchanges programmed between the LLs of the SmartCulTour project. On this occasion, the Huesca and Scheldeland living lab managers and main stakeholders visited Finland to learn the methodologies and see the interventions made by their Finnish counterparts first hand. This was a great opportunity to share unique experiences to enrich and improve the quality of tourist services in the project’s regions.

On the first day, one of the main stakeholders of the Utsjoki living lab gave their visitors a guided tour to see the cultural and tourist attractions of the area and learn more details, in particular about the Sami culture that the Utsjoki LL is focusing on in their analysis. In the afternoon, the group tested the Placemaking Method for the first time in the project. The method uses a working dynamics approach to favour connexion between tourists and their surroundings and enhance the services they demand and the experiences they enjoy at their tourist destinations.

The next day was devoted to a working session with some of the LL stakeholders, giving the Spanish and Belgian teams the chance to learn more about the work in Utsjoki and exchange opinions with the Finnish participants. They all took part in a working meeting focused on improving tourist proposals previously designed for the territory. They also examined the major results of the tourist survey to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Utsjoki as a sustainable cultural tourist destination.

Scheldeland will be hosting the next exchange in June later this month, followed by another exchange in Huesca in October 2022.

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

SmartCultour celebrates World Heritage Day: Spotlight on adaptation to climate change through coastal development plans

The H2020 funded SmartCulTour project aims at supporting 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.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites 2022 (World Heritage Day 2022) takes place on 18th April, focusing this year on Heritage and Climate. As a project supporting the sustainability of cultural heritage within the sustainable tourism framework, SmartCulTour is working with 6 local community Living Labs to develop sustainable tourism approaches.

One of the goals of the international day is to ‘safeguard all types of cultural heritage from adverse climate impacts’. The local authorities of the municipalities (which are members of our Split Living Lab – see Fig. 1), especially the coastal ones, have been very active in developing measures to adapt to climate change through implementing coastal development plans. Although this activity has neither been financed nor supported directly by the SmartCulTour project, we are reporting on this practice example provided by one of our Living Labs in order to help raise awareness about how climate change is impacting on our cultural heritage and how active solutions are being sought.

Figure 1. The Split living lab area consists of the following cities and municipalities: the cities of Split, Trogir, Kaštela, Solin and Sinj and the municipalities: Klis and Dugopolje.

The impacts of climate change are felt in the whole Split Living Lab (LL) area, in terms of the growing temperatures, longer waves of extreme heat and consequently longer periods of drought, changes in precipitation amount and regime (with occasional strong showers causing flooding) and stronger winds. In addition, Split LL coastal cities, especially their historical centres, are located on a narrow coastal strip and are affected by a significant rise in sea level. Figure 2 shows a significant change in the average monthly sea-level increase in the city of Split from the 1956 to 1997 period (blue columns) compared to 2017 (red line) (Margeta et al. 2019[*]).


Figure 2: Average monthly sea level rise in the city of Split from the period 1956-1997 compared to 2017.

According to Margeta et al., 2019, the city of Kaštela has experienced a 30 cm rise in seal level over the last hundred years and in response has developed a Coastal zone management plan foreseeing several adaptation scenarios to combat climate change.  The plan defines the development of an action plan based on integrated coastal zone management and maritime spatial planning. The goal of the Coastal Plan is the sustainable development of the coastal area based on tourism with a focus on measures to protect the sea coast that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Some of the solutions proposed by the Plan to strengthen the resilience of the coastal strip and its infrastructure to climate change are already being implemented. These include infrastructure enhancements close to the heritage buildings within the old historical cores of the seven Kaštela municipalities that are the most endangered by the sea level rise (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Seven Kaštela municipalities – historical cores (Photos ©Mr. Boris Kačan, published with permission)

Another interesting solution in the City of Solin aims to mitigate climate change impacts and protect important historical remains (Katić, M., Bucat, M. 2022[*]). The city is rich with monuments from the Roman period and the early mediaeval ages when it was the seat of the early Croatian rulers. One of the most important monuments of that period are the remains of the so-called Hollow church (dedicated to St. Peter and Moses), the coronation basilica of the Croatian King Zvonimir (11th century A.D.). While in the eleventh century, it was above the level of the adjacent river Jadro, the ground level of the church is today situated below the height of the river (Figure 4). The terrain is flooded due to several factors, among others due to underground springs and the rise in sea level, considering that the river´s sea estuary is not far from the remains of the church. Therefore, the city of Solin has developed a plan to displace the course of the river a few meters away to protect this important archeological site from flooding (Figure 5). Although being technically and financially challenging, the project is a good example of partnership and cooperation among different experts and stakeholders, for example archaeologists (from the Museum of Croatian archaeological monuments in Split), architects (from the architectural bureau “Arhitektonski kolektiv” in Split), the City of Solin administration and the Croatian legal entity for water protection “Hrvatske vode”.

Figure 4. The remains of the Hollow Church in Solin
Figure 5. The solution for the flooding problem of the Hollow Church in Solin

[*]

Margeta, J.,Baučić, M., Vilibić, I., Jakl, Z. Petrić, L., Mandić, A., Grgić, A., Bartulović, H.,,Popić, N., Marasović, K.,Jajac, N., Rogulj, K., Ivić, M., Jovanović, N., Bačić, S., (2019), The city of Kaštela Coastal Zone Management Plan, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Geodesy, University of Split. Document financed by the ERDF, within the Interreg Med project CO-EVOLVE, pg. 16 (retrieved from: https://www.kastela.hr/projekti/plan-upravljanja-obalnim-podrucjem-grada-kastela).

Katić, M., Bucat, M. (2022). Budućnost starohrvatskih lokaliteta Rižinice i Šuplje crkve u Solinu, power point presentation from the 8th International Congress of the Historic Cities, Solin, 29/3/2022-1/4/2022.

Presentación oficial y tercera reunión de trabajo del Living Lab de Huesca

El día 10 de noviembre de 2021 tuvo lugar la tercera sesión de trabajo del Living Lab de Huesca en el marco del proyecto europeo SmartCulTour. El objetivo principal de la sesión fue realizar la presentación oficial del proyecto en Huesca ya que, debido a la emergencia sanitaria, no hubo ocasión de realizarla cuando se lanzó el Living Lab. Para ello, se realizó una rueda de prensa en la Diputación Provincial de Huesca donde Raúl Compés, Director de CIHEAM Zaragoza, y Fernando Blasco, Gerente de TuHuesca, presentaron tanto el proyecto como las sinergias generadas entre ambas instituciones gracias al mismo.

Después de la rueda de prensa, se llevo a cabo en una bodega de la DO Somontano el resto de la jornada, la cual consistió en dos sesiones de trabajo destinadas a la identificacion de inicitaivas exitosas y escalables de turismo cultural sostenible en el territorio  que servirán como base de trabajo para configurar Huesca como undestino de turismo cultural sostenible de referencia. Asimismo, se realizó una sesión dinamizada por representantes de UNESCO donde se expusieron tanto las bases fundacionales de la entidad como las diferentes metodologías que emplean para la capacitación y transferencia de conocimientos a los agentes de turismo. Una vez elegido el itinerario más favorable para Huesca, que escogeran los y las participantes del laboratorio viviente de Huesca, UNESCO ofrecerá una formación personalizada a lo largo del proyecto.

La reunión contó con la participación de 22 personas representando a las diferentes comarcas y sus áreas de turismo, los centros de desarrollo rural, el sector empresarial y agroalimentario y la metodología empleada fue de carácter participativo haciendo uso de herramientas de facilitación de diseño y selección de iniciativas y toma de decisiones.

Segunda reunión de trabajo del Living Lab de Huesca

El día 13 de mayo de 2021, tuvo lugar la segunda reunión de trabajo del Living Lab de Huesca. El objetivo principal de la sesión fue contextualizar el sector del turismo en Huesca por parte de los y las participantes del Living Lab y sentar las bases para el desarrollo de una estrategia de trabajo común para el fortalecimiento del sector en la provincia. La sesión contó con la participación de un total de 17 personas pertenecientes al  Living Lab y representando tanto a la administración pública como a la gestión territorial, el sector agroalimentario y el medioambiente, entre otros.

La metodología empleada fue de carácter participativo, haciendo uso de herramientas en línea que facilitaron la implementación de las diferentes dinámicas. De esta manera la agenda inicial que se planteó para la sesión fue:

  • 10.00: Introducción- Objetivos reunión y metodología
  • 10.05: Guía rápida para usar Miro
  • 10.15: Ronda de presentaciones
  • 10.35: Dinámica 1: Análisis DAFO (Debilidades, Amenazas, Fortalezas y Oportunidades) 30 minutos
  • 11.05: Dinámica 2: Identificación de necesidades y prioridades del LL. 30 minutos
  • 11.35: DESCANSO
  • 11.45: Dinámica 3: Compartiendo buenas prácticas.30 minutos
  • 12.15: Dinámica 4: Identificando oportunidades.30 minutos
  • 12.50: Cierre de la sesión – Conclusiones y siguientes pasos.

La sesión se caracterizó de principio a fin por una alta participación donde los conceptos de sostenibilidad, herramientas, aprendizaje, co-creacion surgieron como palabras clave con respecto a  las expectativas del Living Lab.

A lo largo de las siguientes dinámicas, se generaron debates y discusiones que pusieron en relieve la importancia de la creación de espacios de trabajo en red y cooperación como el que se está creando en el contexto del proyecto. Asímismo, quedó patente el gran interés en trabajar de forma conjunta con el resto de los Living Labs del proyecto para conocer e intercambiar inquietudes y metodologías en el sector del turismo.  El Living Lab de Huesca se caracteriza por una rica diversidad de recursos y atractivos turísticos a la par que se enfrenta a grandes retos como la despoblación rural, el cambio climático o el nuevo paradigma social originado por la actual crisis sanitaria.

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.

Online aanvangsmeeting om het Rotterdamse Living Lab te presenteren

Op 15 april 2021 werd een online bijeenkomst gehouden om het Living Lab van Rotterdam te presenteren aan verschillende stakeholders uit de regio. Het Living Lab Rotterdam is een van de zes living labs die deelneemt aam het Europese project SmartCulTour, dat door de Europese Commissie wordt gefinancierd in het kader van het H2020-programma. Het doel van de living labs is het aanmoedigen van netwerken tussen belanghebbenden uit het toeristische werkveld om zo tot goede praktijken en innovatieve oplossingen voor duurzaam cultureel toerisme te komen, die tegelijkertijd ook kunnen worden uitgewisseld met andere Europese regio’s.

In samenwerking met citymarketingorganisatie Rotterdam Partners werden voor de ‘inception meeting’ personen uitgenodigd die in hun dagelijkse werk of leven te maken hebben met toerisme, evenementen en leisure maar ook bijvoorbeeld met stedelijke planning. Zo waren onder andere Theater Zuidplein, Rotterdam Festivals, Gemeente Rotterdam en IFFR aanwezig bij de online sessie. Met totaal 15 participanten ging de online meeting van start met een leuke opwarm oefening: ‘’Laat aan de hand van je Microsoft Teams achtergrond zien wat jij onder Rotterdams cultureel toerisme verstaat.’’ Dit leverde een divers palet aan kleurrijke achtergronden op en zorgde daarnaast ook voor een mooi openingsgesprek waar de verschillende participanten van elkaar hoorden wat Rotterdams cultureel toerisme voor hen inhoudt.

Vervolgens gaven Ko Koens en Bert Smit van Breda University of Applied Sciences een uitleg over SmartCultour en de nut en noodzaak van living labs. Ko Koens: ‘’ Om een living lab te laten slagen is het noodzakelijks om de juiste deelnemers aan tafel te hebben die kennis hebben van kansen, mogelijkheden en problemen in wijken en daarnaast kennis hebben van toerisme, cultuur, stadsontwikkeling en infrastructuur. We kunnen niet wachten om de komende tijd met jullie op een interactieve en leuke manier aan de slag te gaan.’’

Om de daad bij het woord te voegen was het volgende onderdeel van de meeting het maken van een moodboard in de app ‘mural’. De deelnemers van de meeting werden uitgedaagd om een collage te maken met foto’s die voor hen Rotterdams cultureel toerisme vertegenwoordigden. Er ontstonden interessante borden, die even later met elkaar werden vergeleken en besproken. Zo merkten de deelnemers op dat op de foto’s die eerder waren geselecteerd door de labmanagers en projectleiders onder andere de maritieme cultuur, die juist zo belangrijk is voor Rotterdam ontbrak. Daarnaast kwamen de deelnemers tot de conclusie dat de 174 nationaliteiten die Rotterdam rijk is juist ook het cultureel toeristische beeld van Rotterdam bepalen.

Tot slot werden interessante interventies op het gebied van cultureel toerisme uit andere steden gedeeld. Zie bijvoorbeeld onderstaand afbeelding die genomen is in Den Bosch tijdens het Jeroen Bosch jaar in 2016. De deelnemers komen begin juni weer bij elkaar in een ontwerpsessie. De focus ligt dan ook op hoe toeristische visie en strategie werkelijkheid worden in een bepaalde wijk of misschien juist wel hoe de werkelijkheid van de wijk en de stad zou moeten leiden tot een zich continu ontwikkelende toerisme strategie.

Photo Jherominus Bosch year 2016. Credits: Brabants Dagblad

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.