Go to main menu Go to search Go to main content Go to footer

Sustainable cultural tourism as an opportunity for local development

By Platform

Over 30 participants from Interreg Europe projects met on 19 March together with the European Commission, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture,  to exchange on sustainable cultural tourism as an opportunity for local development. And in particular on selected policy recommendations prepared by the Sustainable Cultural Tourism Open Method of Coordination (SCT OMC) working group.

The objective of the meeting was to present the recommendations, engage the Interreg Europe projects in the latest EU developments on the topic and to share practical examples of how such recommendations can be implemented to facilitate further uptake in European regions. The three thematic blocks of the agenda were linked to the recommendations of highest interest and relevance to the projects, in particular: promotion of community 'ownership' of cultural heritage; integration of cultural heritage into the design of new cultural tourism offers; and fundraising strategies for the protection and presentation of cultural heritage. The main highlights from the online discussion are presented below: 

Building on the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage

Ms. Grady from DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture highlighted that the 2018 EYCH provided an opportunity to explore the relationship between cultural heritage and cultural tourism. Тhe work  of the SCT OMC working group provided a framework for deepening the cooperation between the EU Member States on this topic.

The working group also came up with a new definition for sustainable cultural tourism: integrated management of cultural heritage and tourism activities in conjunction with the local community creating social, environmental and economic benefits for all stakeholders, to achieve tangible and intangible cultural heritage conservation and sustainable tourism development.

1. Promotion of community 'ownership' of cultural heritage

Promoting community ‘ownership’ of cultural heritage can be done through awareness raising, site visits as well as capacity building. On a local level, volunteering can increase the feeling of 'ownership' of the local community of their own cultural heritage. As a tool it can be implemented in different ways as exemplified by the good practice from Innocastle project.

Visiteering is a cost-neutral and more flexible volunteering offer that was used by National Trust in the United Kingdom. It involves mainly local people, as part of a regular visit to a historic country house, in a volunteering activity such as cleaning items from the collection. It could also target tourists. The organisation benefits from being able to engage people more deeply in its work. People benefit from a conservation experience and the well-being volunteering brings. Participants acknowledged visiteering as a good way to reach out to new audiences. To be successful, it needs proper management of the people involved and strengthening the feeling of community ownership by giving e.g. a certificate or an ambassador badge.

2. Integration of cultural heritage into the design of new cultural tourism offers

When designing new cultural tourism offers, it is essential to count on good governance models and human resources with appropriate capacity and skills. An

from the KEEP ON project illustrates how this was done with regards to a Polish castle. 

Thanks to the process of restoration and revitalisation of the castle and its surroundings, the Royal Castle in Chęciny has become one of the most visited heritage sites of that type in Poland. The project had a huge impact on preserving the heritage and boosting tourism of the area. Factors for success are linked to the efficient management of the established cultural institution and its experts. The entity is self-financed and employs local staff knowledgeable of the cultural heritage of the territory.

Many economically disadvantaged regions in Europe can use valuable cultural and natural heritage to be a source of economic development. It needs to be revealed and promoted in an innovative and sustainable way. An example of such approach highlighted during the event is the

 (SHARE project).

3. Fundraising strategies for the protection and presentation of cultural heritage

One of the problems that many public authorities face is insufficient funding for proper conservation and maintenance of heritage. Therefore, the Sustainable Cultural Tourism OMC Working Group recommended developing fundraising strategies for the protection and presentation of cultural heritage. In addition to public funds, new sources of finance such as crowdfunding and venture philanthropy are being used. A good practice on crowdfunding identified by the FINCH project is such an example.

In order to finance the restoration of a historical facility in the  German city of Magdeburg, public and private funds through crowdfunding and a grant were combined. The crowdfunding was implemented free of charge with the support of a bank through its web portal. As a bottom-up approach, it also helps building a community around a project and promoting the heritage asset. 

Crowdfunding is a good way to provide funds for small projects and it is expected that it will gain further importance. Interreg Europe projects are also identifying successful approaches for private-public partnerships (PPPs). Within the FINCH project, the partners are developing a tool that will include a section on PPP. The tool will be available on the project website in April 2020.

Policy Learning Platform resources

Materials shared by DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture 

Forthcoming initiatives

  • With regards to 2019-2022 Workplan for Culture a new OMC group will be set up to examine Cultural Heritage and Climate Change. Further information is available here.
Image credit: Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
European Union