University of Split

The exchange visit in the Split Metropolitan Area LL

Between the 11th and 13th of May, Split Metropolitan Area Living Lab hosted the stakeholders from the Rotterdam and Vicenza Living Labs. Split Metropolitan Area consists of micro destinations in the coastal area, which are currently the hub, and rural regions that, although rich with heritage, experience significantly lower tourism demand. As tourism in the Split centre has reached its peaks organising alternative visitor experiences, i.e. flagship attractions, to pull in visitors, meet the needs of residents and develop more robust tourism activities in such places could be a solution.

As announced in the exchange preparation meetings, the program in Split focused on challenges associated with the marketing of sustainable cultural tourism, more precisely, the sustainable interpretation of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The main idea behind the program was to showcase two distinctive approaches (public vs private; more vs less successful) toward the organisation of cultural tourism visitor experiences in two distinctive yet neighbouring destinations and discuss the challenges and opportunities with visiting stakeholders.

The exchange program began on 11 May when visitors had the opportunity to enjoy the guided tour of the Diocletian Palace in the Split town centre (Photo 1). This was also an opportunity for hosts and visitors to meet and discuss the expectations from the two-day workshop in an informal atmosphere.

The exchange program began on 11 May when visitors had the opportunity to enjoy the guided tour of the Diocletian Palace in the Split town centre (Photo 1). This was also an opportunity for hosts and visitors to meet and discuss the expectations from the two-day workshop in an informal atmosphere.

On 12 May at 9 AM, hosts and visitors meet at the Faculty of economics, business and tourism to meet the Faculties management. Following a brief introduction, we visited the city of Sinj, where we were welcomed in «Alkarski dvori» by Ms Monika Vrgoč, the DMO manager. Ms Vrgoč introduced tourism development in Sinj while particularly focusing on the disparity between the potential for cultural tourism development and what has been done. Ms Vrgoč outlined the challenges associated with visitor experience design, sustainable interpretation and communication with visitors. During the presentation, the visitors posed questions. After the presentation, Ms Vrgoč took us to visit the Museum of Sinjska Alka, where she organised guided tourism and the projection of the documentary movie on the Alka knight tournament and the history of Sinj. Following, we visited the local church, i.e. sanctuary of the Miraculous Madonna of Sinj, and the local site with the roman monument representing what seems to be the first evidence of football in Europe, as recognised by FIFA. After the lunch break, Ms Vrgoč organised a visit to the recently built interpretation centre, which has not been opened for visitors due to the lack of consensus within the local government regarding who should take responsibility for management. This was followed by a short visit to the horse centre. We went back to «Alkarski dvori» where we discussed the challenges that were raised and questions that emerged during the visit (Photo 2).

On 13 May at 9 AM, we visited Stella Croatica privately owned experience centre in Klis. The centre is focused on the interpretation of Mediterranean customs, traditions and natural heritage. The place involves the (1) a small factory where dominantly employed local community members produce selected products (food, cosmetics) from locally grown ingredients; (2) the botanic garden with the majority of typically Mediterranean plants; (3) a distillery outlining the process of the development of cosmetics; (4) olive museum interpretation and education centre showcasing the process of the development of olive oil; (4) concept store; and (5) outlay of the traditional Dalmatian stone village where visitors can explore the village and enjoy the traditional gastronomy. We were welcomed by Mr Marin Jerković, who gave us 3 hours guided tour and explained the history and the vision for the centre’s future, their commitment to conservation, education, and benefit to the local community. The guided tour started in the factory, where visitors could see the production and packaging of some of their products and taste a Fig cake, their most famous pastry. Following, we were taken to the distillery, where Mr Jerković explained the process of the extraction of the lavender and immortelle essential oil, which has been used to create many of their product. The tour continued with the exploration of the botanic garden. He took us then to the interactive and educational olive oil museum, where he reflected on the history of olive oil and the extraction of oil from olives and provided some good insights on distinguishing lamp oil from virgin and extra virgin olive oil. The tour continued with a stop at the concept store and a visit to the interpretation of a traditional Dalmatian village. Within the village, Mr Jerković organised the tasting of their product and, after instruction on how to blend the tasts, left us to explore unique tastes for some time. After some 30 minutes, Mr Jerković returned, and the discussion began. While the visitor posed a question on how they plan to increase the number of visitors, Mr Jerković explained how visitor growth is not the primary focus of the experience centre as they are currently satisfied with the numbers. They are focused on diversifying offers and maintaining the quality of experiences. Some good points on market visibility of concept and branding were made.

Indeed, the exchange visit is considered a success as it provides insight into the complexity of the cultural-heritage founded visitor experience design and sustainable interpretation. The main lessons learned could be summarised as follows:

Indeed, the exchange visit is considered a success as it provided insight into the complexity of the cultural-heritage founded visitor experience design and sustainable interpretation. The main lessons learned could be summarised as follows:

  • Successful cultural tourism development requires the commitment and partnership of the relevant stakeholders.
  • The collaboration between DMOs and other stakeholders is crucial for sustainable experience design and interpretation.
  • The development of facilities and infrastructure requires the consensus of the local government and DMOs.
  • Cultural tourism businesses need a clear vision of a sustainable future and prioritise value and service quality over volume.
  • Sustainable valorisation of the cultural heritage requires emphasising the wellbeing of local communiteis and delivering transformative and memorable visitor experiences.

UNESCO Global Capacity Building Programme – Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Cultural Tourism in Split Living Lab

As part of Split’s Living Lab activities, the Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism from the University of Split (FEBT), in collaboration with UNESCO, has organized a workshop focused on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and sustainable cultural tourism. The workshop is focused on the capacity building of the local stakeholders on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH, emphasizing participatory inventory and awareness-raising on ICH. It aims to introduce the stakeholders to the key concepts of the Convention, its ethical principles, and methods of participatory inventory of ICH, and raise the awareness of the local community on the ICH’s richness and its potential in the context of sustainable cultural tourism development. The program has been planned as a four-part: two online and two live meetings. The manager of all four modules is Mrs Tamara Nikolić Đerić, PhD, a longtime UNESCO facilitator.

The first part of the program was organized on Monday (February 21) via the Zoom application. The focus was on identifying and inventorying local knowledge for cultural tourism development. There were approximately 20 LL participants, and it lasted 2 hours. The Convention on the Preservation of the ICH, its ethical principles, and participatory inventory methods were discussed during the workshop. After the theoretical part, the LL participants prepared a questionnaire for the participatory inventory of ICH under the facilitator’s supervision. Then, from February 21 to March 1, LL participants were given the task to identify one ICH element and conduct at least one interview with local community members in preparation for the next part of the workshop program. During the process, they were continuously supported by the facilitator.

On March 4, in the hotel President, in the city of Solin, the second part of the workshop took place. It was dedicated to the inventory of ICH. During the first half of the daily program, incentivisation processes were discussed among LL participants, emphasizing the challenges and opportunities identified while working together with the local communities. In the second half of the program, the meeting of LL participants and invited local community members from Solin was organized. They worked together on the development of the ideas.

The third part of the workshop happened on March 15, online (via the Zoom application). The main topic was raising community awareness of heritage potential in sustainable cultural tourism development. Also, the principles of the Convention on raising awareness of ICH were argued at the workshop. In addition to good practices and the potential that heritage offers to local communities, the necessity to be aware of the dangers that threaten heritage preservation and sustainable tourism development was emphasized. After the introductory theoretical part, an action plan for the pilot project was created.

Finally, the fourth part of the workshop is planned to occur in Split on April 4-5. During the two-day program, in collaboration with the local artists, LL participants will co-create the campaigns to raise awareness of ICH. Results are going to be presented publicly at the online event in May.

The Split Metropolitan region Living Lab organizes a codesigning workshop

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.