RG aims at improving policies related to SME development through fostering the uptake of green innovative solutions. It stimulates SME innovation support schemes and provides efficient capacity development for the private players of rural visitor economies. To efficiently enter new markets SME’s need to build cross-overs and new partnerships. The outputs (Action Plans) are linked to the development of SME innovation support schemes (novel products and services, branding and education programmes). Beneficiaries are the visitor economy related SME’s but also the inhabitants in general because of the expected socio-economic impact.
The innovation of SME’s in rural areas active in the visitor economy will bring a positive change in the rural socio-economic situation. This potential is covered by more than 30% of all SME’s settled in these rural areas. Regions in the project are struggling with scarce employment and business opportunities because of: 1. too strong reliance on traditional activities. 2. weak cross–fertilisation between relevant sectors and stakeholders 3. lack of tools to stimulate SME innovation. Opportunities for boosting rural economies are interlinked with the outstanding natural and cultural assets offering great potentials for attracting visitors. Crucial is the upgrading of hospitality sector SMEs and connected traditional rural activities.
Boosting visitor economy is a means of producing economic benefit for sectors that even indirectly support tourism such as agriculture, processing industry and various services, resulting in creating new local jobs and infrastructure developments. Partners are engaged with the concept of slow tourism, an excellent driver for sustaining vivid local communities and preserving the integrity of the natural environment as well as cultural assets. A sustainable visitor economy not only facilitates the growth and competitiveness of local SMEs but also contributes to all aspects of sustainability.