Creation of a new certified cultural route of Europe focused on Reformation heritage across Central Europe
Routes of Reformation started as an Interreg Central Europe project called ECRR (European Cultural Route of Reformation). The aim was to create a new cultural route certified by the Council of Europe. The project successfully concluded in 2019, the certification process finished the same year. Since then, the Route is managed by the Routes of Reformation Association (RoR), based in Sangerhausen, Germany. However, it includes sites and organizations in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. RoR is an archipelago type, which means that the points of interest are not directly linked with hiking paths. Usually, the local parts can be interconnected but the whole system cannot since it is geographically and historically widely spread. The member base is quite diverse, enabling cooperation among sites, tourism support organizations, churches, public authorities, education organizations, and expert individuals. The route supports models of sustainable tourism, supports educational activities, and enables local communities to take part and benefit from the route. One of the largest benefits for the members is the networking and cooperation with similarly oriented organizations in other countries, exchanging experience, and sharing good practice examples. It can include marketing, site management, events, and much more.
The Route was founded through an Interreg Central Europe project called ECRR. It amounted to over 2.3 million € for 11 partner organizations to link up the sites, exchange experiences, create the common visual identity, and set up the management structure. The annual fee income is approx. 10k €.
Evidence of success
The Route has grown since its establishment considerably. Now it includes over 40 member organizations from 10 countries and generates over 10k € annually from member fees. The successful certification at the Council of Europe is considered one of the greatest achievements so far. The member base is still growing, including even new countries (eg. Switzerland). However, the pandemics in 2020 slowed down marketing activities since many events got cancelled.
- legal form of the management body and the host country
- acquisition of new members
- setting member fee so it suits everyone (large economic disparities within the member base is the factor)
Potential for learning or transfer
Transferring the model is relatively easy given enough resources. The key factor in RoR was the initial potential for founding enabled by the EU project. Without this, the Route would probably never materialized. However, EU funds for such activities are available in all member states, either through Interreg-family programmes or national operational programmes.