European call to bond tourism, cultural heritage and technology

The European Commission has just published a new call for proposals calledSupporting the Promotion and Development of Transnational Thematic Tourism Products Linked to Cultural and Creative Industries” under the COSME Programme – Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium sized Enterprises 2014-2020.

As 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the European Commission is addressing this theme in order to exploit and enhance synergies between the cultural and the creative sectors through concrete actions.

The modality of fruition of cultural heritage is changing, also due to ICTs which allow tourist to better enjoy it. ICTs are also modifying the way of promoting the cultural heritage, allowing the attraction of an higher number of tourists. Visitors are looking for experience and are paying a growing attention to sustainability and to in-destination activities.

The general objectives of the call are referred to developing synergies between the cultural and the creative industry and the tourism sector, in order to stimulate the competitiveness, innovation, diversification and valorisation of European tourism offer.

The call recommends some specific activities to be implemented, such as:

  • the development of a transnational tourism product which needs to be related to the European cultural heritage;
  • the promotion and the visibility of a transnational tourism product linked to the European heritage by using technologies related to the cultural and creative industries (CCIs);
  • the facilitation of public-private partnerships and the integration of tourism enterprises, as well as public authorities;
  • the growth of SMEs’ skills and opportunities in transnational cooperation, and the development of tourism products.

Eligible proposals must be presented by consortia which gather from 5 to 8 partners of various nature and located in at least 4 different eligible Countries. Moreover, the consortia need to include at least one managing authority of a UNESCO cultural site, a SME operating in the tourism or in CCIs industry subsector of cultural heritage, and one national, regional or local public authority.

EASME – Executive Agency for SMEs is delegated for the implementation of the call. It foresees to finance 5 to 7 projects which have to last 15-18 months. Every project can be granted with an up to 75% co-financing of eligible costs up to € 300.000, and the total budget is € 1,5 million.

Competitive proposals will be valued according to the relevance and the quality of the proposed actions. Moreover, it will be valued the potential impact on the target audience and the budget and cost-effectiveness of the proposals. In particular, EASME will award projects that include a transnational tourism product structured around theme linked to the European cultural heritage. In fact, a UNESCO cultural site must be the focal point of the tourism product. In particular, the projects must promote synergies between tourism, CCIs and ICTs in order to promote the tourism product and enhance the visitor’s experience. In fact, as specified in the Eligible Activities list, proposals could include the “development and promotion of a common narrative (audio-visual presentation) on the common theme using the augmented reality and/or immersion (virtual reality) technologies for promotion of all the sites being part of a transitional tourism product.”

The deadline for the call is fixed June, the 29th 2017.

At Twissen we observed that ICTs have become a fundamental tool to promote destinations and cultural sites, as they have a great potential in attracting tourism flows.

Calls regarding the development of transnational tourism products strongly address sustainability. In fact, beyond the environmental components, it is necessary to describe how the project will be able to develop after the co-funding period. As we have already specified, a balanced partnership is the base of the general success of the proposal.