Present your organisation objectives and missions.
The Val-de-Marne Tourism Board is a non-profit association, depending of the Val-de-Marne Departmental Council. It is responsible for the tourism policy, development, promotion and commercialization of tourism products. Since 2002, it has implemented projects along the Marne river.
Our missions are also to lead the network of tourism stakeholders and to support project implementers. For a few years, the Tourism Board has cooperated with the neighboring territories of Seine-Saint-Denis and Seine-et-Marne to implement a regional project on the historical area of the Marne river.
We are involved in the implementation of the Regional Tourism and Leisure Development Plan 2017 – 2021 (RTLDP) which determines the specific objectives and financial conditions for tourism development planning in Ile-de-France Region. It identified several priority areas for tourism development and the Marne river territory is one of them.
What is your role in STAR Cities ?
The Val-de-Marne Tourism Board is at the initiative of the STAR Cities project. Since a few years, our team has believed in the opportunity of European cooperation to improve our strategies and projects in terms of river tourism. Some of the STAR Cities partners are also members of the Riverside Cities European network, bringing together local regions wishing to develop or redevelop recreational activities along rivers or waterways in an urban environment.
The Tourism Board is the lead partner of the project and is in charge of the overall management. We will bring to the consortium our experience and expertise on building a relevant and effective network of public and private local stakeholders working on river tourism development in order to develop common actions and strategy.
Why have you decided to join STAR Cities and what do you expect from it ?
The Val-de-Marne Tourism Board wants to develop a new sustainable tourism and to highlight the natural and cultural heritage of rivers and waterways, both tangible and intangible.
Our involvement in STAR Cities will benefit from the exchange of experiences with the partners in specific actions as cultural development, involvement of the locals in tourism promotion, or soft mobility development.
Additionally, the Tourism Board will also work on the improvement of the implementation of regional development policies and programs throughout the project. The first phase of the project will be dedicated to the identification of good practices within the partnership before implementing an action plan during the second phase to improve the policy instrument. Moreover, STAR Cities will help to commit even more the local public and private stakeholders involved in the tourism development along the Marne river.
STAR Cities is also an opportunity to deepen exchanges with European partners and may lead to joint actions. On a long-term basis, the Riverside Cities network plans to apply for the « Cultural Route of the Council of Europe » certification to ensure a recognition of the role of rivers, including the Marne river.
What are the main stakeholders you are planning to involve in STAR Cities ? What is your organisation‘s relationship with them?
Most of the stakeholders identified are already involved in the governance structure set up by the Tourism Board in order to manage the Marne river tourism development.
Almost 200 organisations have been listed to far: regional institutions, local authorities, tourism boards, touristic sites, museums, service providers, leisure ports, environmental organisations, historical societies, water sports clubs, etc.
We have also set up a smaller working group with key stakeholders from the Region and tourism boards along the Marne river. Regular meetings are organised to monitor the project progress, identify good practices and prepare the regional action plan.
What are your territory goals and challenges related to riverside tourism development? How would you ideally see your region develop over the next few years?
Because of its abundant cultural and natural heritage specific to European rivers which has seen the development of leisure, cultural and sport activities in the 19th and 20th centuries alongside industrialization, the Marne River has been identified as a priority touristic hub by the Region Ile-de-France.
In order to reveal its full potential, the Tourism Board implemented a long-term strategy to develop the touristic offer based on the enhancement of the riverside (leisure) activities and history. It led to the creation of the Riverside Cities network in which STAR Cities is implemented.