A new interregional cooperation project titled “Delivering Efficient Sustainable Tourism with Low-carbon Transport Innovations: Sustainable Mobility, Accessibility and Responsible Travel” (DESTI-SMART) has been launched, starting in September 2018. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Interreg Europe programme.

The DESTI-SMART project is led by the Metropolitan Development Agency of Thessaloniki S.A in Greece with eight other destination partners and an advisory partner.The Launch Conference of the DESTI-SMART project successfully took place on 27th-28th September 2018 in the City Council Room of the Thessaloniki City Hall.

The Launch Conference coincided with the events for the World Tourism Day organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), where DESTI-SMART was registered as a parallel action. DESTI-SMART is closely related to the ‘Smart Destinations’ initiative of UNWTO.

The DESTI-SMART project introduces a combination of policies for sustainable mobility, accessibility and responsible travel with policies for sustainable tourism development. This is a common challenge that regional and local authorities face, as well as transport authorities, especially in busy tourist destinations with high traffic flows. Integrated policies and actions are promoted through interregional destination cooperation aiming at "smart destinations".

The overall objective of DESTI-SMART is the combined improvement of transport and tourism polices at tourist destinations. This could be achieved by integrating strategies for sustainable mobility, accessibility and responsible travel within the planning processes for sustainable tourism development and services. The transition to a low-carbon economy is a major challenge for all project partners, through sustainable multimodal mobility, along with innovations, efficiency, resilience, policy learning and capacity building for local authorities in tourist destinations.

During the two-days meeting, the project partners had the opportunity to present the regions they wish to focus on during the project, as well as current tourism development resources and mobility systems. They also referred to their expectations from the project’s implementation as well as their main priorities towards the achievement of sustainability in tourist destinations.

The project approach is to seek and facilitate increased interaction, cooperation, innovations and integration between the tourism and transport sectors at destination regions, around priority key themes that are expected to contribute towards the transition to a low-carbon economy, through sustainable mobility and accessibility solutions. The partners referred to some main priorities for the development of Smart Tourism Destinations as listed in the following:
A.    Investments in low-carbon transport systems for visitors shifting from private cars to sustainable mobility means, including electromobility, flexible and mass transportation (led by Hastings Borough Council, UK).
B.    Infrastructure and Intermodality Services for Visitors, Information and Communication Technologies and Mobile Applications, Mobility as Service (Mobility as a Service - MaaS) in tourism (led by Bremerhaven, Germany).
C.    Accessibility to tourist attractions and services, accessible tourism for all (disabled, elderly, families with young children), (led by Mallorca Council, Spain).
D.     Cycling and hiking facilities for guests, including cycling tourism and ‘Greenways’ (led by Latvian Greenways Association, Latvia).

The project involves activities such as Interregional Workshops with study visits and Webinars, leading to the production of 'Policy Guidelines', staff exchanges in order to provide hands-on experience and thus strengthen the policy lessons, dedicated study tour where key issues and good practices can be demonstrated on the ground for the benefit of policy makers, stakeholder engagement, joint survey for setting the basis for a common approach on the development of common issues, feasibility studies for low-carbon transport systems serving visitor mobility, action plans preparation and implementation and  mainstreaming of the results into Operational Programmes and European Structural and Investment Funds.

DESTI-SMART is one of the ten (10) projects approved in the 3rd Interreg Europe Call, out of a total of 44 proposals submitted in June 2017 under the category of "low-carbon economy" and one of the 54 approved projects in a total of 234 proposals submitted in all thematic priorities of the Interreg Europe Programme.

The total budget of the project is 1.84m€ out of which 85% is co-funded by ERDF.