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Tourism and Cultural and Creative Industries in the post COVID19 period

By Platform

On 23 July 2020, the Policy Learning Platform organised an online meeting for local and regional policymakers with the objective to explore the synergies between sustainable tourism and CCIs and to trigger the exchange of good practices from different EU regions how to best support these sectors in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Setting the scene for the discussion of local and regional solutions, Mr. Maciej Hofman from the European Commission (DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture) gave an overview of the measures taken on European level as a response to the crisis. In particular, he put spotlight on the variety of European funding instruments which CCI actors are invited to consider when tackling the challenges posed by the crisis.

EU funding opportunities with an impact on CCI:

  • Specific actions of Creative Europe Programme
  • Examples of EU horizontal measures: 
    • Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative - 37 billion EUR from Structural Funds available to alleviate the effects of the crisis; could be used for cultural operators as well.
    • Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) - 100 billion EUR; designed to protect jobs and workers affected by pandemic; could be used to pay salaries of creators, artists, etc. who have lost their jobs.
    • Temporary Framework for State Aid measures: culture is specifically listed as one of the sectors most severely hit by the outbreak.


Here are the main highlights from the online discussion:

  • Collaboration between different stakeholders becomes even more important in times of crisis 

Looking at the negative effects of event cancellations on tourism and societal well-being, Ms. Magda Szabo from Interreg Europe Local Fravours project emphasised the value of stakeholder partnerships, in particular joint activities between entrepreneurs, public bodies, cultural partners, and the business community. For instance, den Bosch Summer (Netherlands) focuses on small-scale activities and events that bring benefits for all residents and entrepreneurs. In Waterford (Ireland) the emphasis is on creating new journeys (e.g. developing local food touring route and coastal cliff walk route, organising Irish culture workshops) in rural areas and thus raising awareness about lesser-known territories. Moreover, Ms. Szabo gave an outlook on trends for the post-pandemic period, with the expectation to see slow tourism combined with a quest for authenticity on the rise. 

  • Innovation is a must in the response to the crisis  

Ms. Catie Burlando from Interreg Europe Cult-CreaTE project shared the experience of the Traveller’s Festival in Asolo, Italy. The Festival, centred around the idea of promoting heritage of small towns, fostering co-creation, as well as the journey as a metaphor for life, has been particularly hit by the crisis. Organisers’ response included the adoption of innovative approaches such as 'Travel in a room', a weekly series of one-hour interviews on streaming developed during the lockdown with the aim of keeping the connection to the regular visitors of the festival, as well as attracting newcomers. Attended by 4000 people during the lockdown these interviews were very well received, and the interest is still high in the post-pandemic period. A flexible format combining onsite and streaming events is also considered for future events, should the crisis persist. Altogether, the project partner stressed the opportunities deriving from strengthened synergies between CCIs and tourism. Indeed, reaching from the creation of new experiences (beyond the festival) to the development of niche sectors for CCIs and the connection of tour operators with niche cultural products, the current crisis may open new paths and directions for sustainable regional development.

  • It is important to sustain investment in the Cultural and Creative Sector on all levels (EU, national, regional and local) to avoid collapse  -term as well as long-term measures for adaptation are needed 

A recently published analytical report prepared for the Council of Europe states that ‘countries with strong public funding for the arts are better placed to envisage the future of their local CCS ecosystem’. As a direct effect of sustained CCS investments,  the negative impact of the crisis on tourism can be minimised, an aspect which was also stressed by Mr. Nicolas Tsifoutis from the Interreg Europe CHRISTA project who presented the Pafos Aphrodite Festival.


  • Venelina Varbova and Ruslan Zhechkov, Thematic Experts Policy Learning Platform Environment and resource efficiency - 
  • Maciej Hofman, European Commission, (DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture) -
  • Dr. Mariann Szabó, Thematic expert, Local Flavours project -
  • Catie Burlando, CULT-CreaTE project -
  • Nicolas Tsifoutis, CHRISTA project -

Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform resources

Other relevant resources

Image credit: Photo by daniyal ghanavati from Pexels