#1The first intervention will take place in the Historic Villages of Portugal in the region of Beira Interior. The area is facing several socio-economic challenges such as declining populations mainly due to a lack of opportunities for locals, especially the younger generations. At the same time, the richly diverse landscape and the quality of the wine-making tradition attract tourists both in winter and in summer, moved by their curiosity to admire a magical snowy or sunny landscape while sipping a glass of good wine. For this reason, tourism could be an important strategy to tackle the issues that have been undermining the area. The chosen intervention was designed by a conglomerate partnership composed of the Federal Government of Portugal, the local region, municipalities, and private agencies, all supported by the funding of the European Union. The initial basic aim was to restore ancient villages and promote heritage tourism in Beira Interior. Subsequently, the project was extended, embracing a more comprehensive strategy to generate more revenues and opportunities for residents through cultural tourism and mitigate depopulation. During the first stage of the project, the implementation followed a more top-down-directed approach which seriously lacked co-creation mechanisms to involve residents in the decision-making process. Consequently, a critical review of the intervention led to a more inclusive approach, recognizing locals as active partners of the initiative. The overall intervention achieved important objectives. First, the tangible heritage was successfully restored and preserved. The quality and diversity of investments in the renovation of historical buildings and revitalization of the villages have had a huge impact on the visibility and notoriety of historic villages and the entire Beira Interior region. Besides, the cultural promotion effect strongly increased the sense of belonging and pride in the community. Also, the contribution to socio-economic development improved living conditions and opportunities for residents. Since 2005, local tourist offices have recorded almost continuous growth in the number of annual tourists which, at the same time, created new jobs, especially in the sector of rural tourism, gastronomy, handcrafts, local products, and tourist entertainment. Although the initial top-down phase did not consider (enough) the needs, constraints, and specificities of the local community, a more inclusive decision-making process will make every intervention more effective.
From 19 to 22 October 2022, SmartCulTour will present and be a key protagonist of the 15th Conference for Cultural Tourism in Europe. The event will be held in Krk, Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. The annual theme chosen by the ECT Network is about the relaunch of European Tourism through “Cultural Heritage” and the opportunities offered by the technological advancements of “Digitalisation”. Indeed, SmartCulTour’s findings and studies strongly believe that heritage and culture, as drivers for sustainable tourism, can work side by side in a complementary relationship with innovation, digitalisation, creativity, and tourism product development. The European Cultural Tourism Network “ECTN”, as well as SmartCulTour people, is willing to disseminate and improve sustainable cultural tourism by sharing experiences and encountering different European supporting practices. Finally, at the end of the Conference, the ECTN will award the Prize for “Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2022”, a special occasion to discover new experiences, research, and practices about tourism.
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.
Last week the Department of Tourism and Economy of the University of Split, Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism organized a very fruitful codesigning workshop with stakeholders in Split Metropolitan region Living Lab.
The workshop focused on the verification of needs and priorities that were identified throughout the analysis (first part of the TOR) and used the opportunity tree technique to identify and agree on critical priorities associated with sustainable cultural tourism development and initiate the co-design of interventions to address them to initiate the co-design process. This Living Lab is part of Horizon 2020 funded project SmartculTour, which aims to broaden the understanding of how cultural tourism development can support the sustainable development and resilience of European regions
The next step is developing the interventions within the priorities that have been identified through TOR. One intervention will be related to education and building capacity, and the other will raise awareness and foster cooperation and networks.
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.
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
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
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 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.
For more information: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/Regional_Resilience