The first day of the inter-regional thematic workshop, 22 September, started with introduction of the project, aims of the workshop and presentation of intangible heritage assets in 8 partner`s destinations with best practices in deploying them for cultural tourism development and promotion.

External expert Dr Jordi Tresserras of the University of Barcelona LabPRTC/Ibertur, appointed by partner ECTN, presented 'State of the Art' of intangible heritage for sustainable cultural tourism'.

Discussion between partners and their stakeholders on the key questions:

- How to deploy Intangible Heritage Assets for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism development and promotion in partner regions?

- How to improve policy instruments?

Synthesis and conclusions were drawn on the first day, with the contribution of the external expert and ECTN policy advisor.

On the second day, 23 September, the Workshop theme was exposed to a wider audience with keynote speakers, policy makers, experts and external contributors in conference format, entitled: ‘Intangible Heritage: Incomparable Asset for Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Development’.

Keynote speakers were: the Vice-Chair of the Commission for Natural Resources, Committee of the Regions, Mr. Anthony Buchanan who will spoke about ‘Tourism as a Driving Force’; Council member of Europa Nostra, Prof. Konraad Van Balen presented the study ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’; representative of the European Travel Commission Ms. Iulia Niculica, presented ‘The European Tourism Manifest for Growth & Jobs’; and the Chair of NECSTouR Working Group Cultural Tourism and Cultural Sustainability, Mr. Jose Luis Maestro Castineiras presented good practices on intangible heritage in NECSTouR regions.

The conference was addressed by video messages from Ana-Claudia Tapardel, Member of the European Parliament, Co-chair of the Intergroup for European Tourism Development, European Parliament Committee on Transport & Tourism Member and Carlo Corazza, European Commission, DG Growth, Head of the Tourism, Emerging and Creative Industries Unit.

The Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes Dr. Stefano Dominioni made live intervention online.

Through a ‘Call for Presenters’, 20 presentations have been selected in the programme coming from 11 countries. Presentations were made by 9 destinations, 12 universities and 3 consultancies. They showcased relevant experience, shared best practices, methods and concepts of successful implementation and provided practical recommendations for preserving, deploying and promoting intangible heritage for responsible and sustainable tourism development. The Conference concluded with a debate on the potential of intangible heritage for innovative, sustainable and responsible tourism development.

During this Conference there was a ceremony of the ECTN Award prize for ‘Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2016” on the theme ‘Intangible Heritage Tourism’. There were 23 candidates for the Award coming from 9 countries across Europe.

The conference programme was enriched with a Study Tour in Ave region on the third day, 24 September, which included visits to Guimaraes “Oficina” (traditional Needlework and “Lovers Pottery”, the railway museum of Arco de Baúlhe and the Tamancos exhibition, to Casa da Lã - Bucos – Cabeceiras de Basto – project for the development of traditional wool craft, demonstrations of Luta do Pau - Bucos – Cabeceiras de Basto (traditional stick fight) and to Cabeceiras de Basto - Romaria of S. Miguel – Project Romarias do Minho.

See the event in photos HERE.