Be.CULTOUR – Beyond Cultural Tourism/Beyond Cultural Tourism

Between September 8-9, 2022, a delegation from the North-West Development Region participated in a study visit to the Netherlands and a public policy workshop for the development of cultural tourism in Belgium, actions organized within the project Be.CULTOUR – Beyond Cultural Tourism, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme.

ADR Nord-West, along with others organizations representing 16 regions in Europe, was accepted in 2021 in the Be-Cultour Project Community, with the role of mirror region, to benefit from exchanges of good practices following the actions the consortium established at the level of 6 regions in Europe, including the Northeast Development Region.

The two events organized in September brought together for the first time in physical format about 30 representatives from the Be.Cultour Community, to debate and identify the challenges and solutions for circular cultural tourism, with an environmental component, by sharing the approaches and strategies implemented at the level of the regions represented, thus strengthening the cooperation between the organizations involved. The Romanian delegation was represented by the Executive Director of the Association for the Promotion of Tourism in Oradea and the Region (APTOR), Mr. Alexandru Chira, and the technical expert in tourism from the Department of Regional Development, Projects and International Relations within the North-West ADR, Mr. Marian Alca.

The first day was dedicated to a study visit to the urban region Stadsregio Parkstad Limburg from the Netherlands, where meetings were organized with relevant local actors who contributed to the development of tourism in the area, by involving the town halls of the respective region in the implementation of a plan to promote local heritage with a history of over 2000 years. The vision behind this plan was built around 5 timelines highlighting the most important transitions in the region, each of which left a unique imprint on the landscape, architecture and culture of the region: Roman period (750 BC-500 AD), Medieval period (500-1800), Mining and the modern city (1900-1965), Transition period – closure of mines (1965-2000), The new momentum: tourism and cultural spring (2020-present).

The implementation of this plan led to the rehabilitation, restoration and introduction of thematic tourist circuits of emblematic objectives for the 5 identified periods. This was followed by a guided tour of the city of Heerlen and the grounds of Schaesberg Castle (16th-17th century), where the workshops used by local craftsmen for the restoration of the castle were presented.

The next day, debates were organized starting from the opportunities of circular tourism in the post-pandemic era, addressing topics such as: circular investments for infrastructure (which allow the reuse of resources in a sustainable and responsible way, aiming at reducing tourist pressure on destinations and reinvesting profits in local communities), mobility and tourism services, digitization and smart data management, synergies in heritage innovation networks, stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship at local level through cultural tourism, strengthening human capital towards development centered on individual.

At the end of the debates, the participants from 13 countries got involved in drafting some public policy recommendations to support circular tourism at the level of the European Union.

At the level of the North-West Development Region, Sectoral Tourism Strategy 2021-2027 recently developed, with the involvement of public authorities in the region, will be the basis of future funding in the field of cultural tourism in the region.

Article by Marian Alca - tourism technical expert

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