With this communication, the EC intends to encourage a coordinated approach for initiatives linked to tourism and define a new framework for action to increase its competitiveness and capacity for sustainable growth. As an activity which impinges on cultural and natural heritage and on traditions and contemporary cultures in the EU, tourism provides a textbook example of the need to reconcile economic growth and sustainable development, including an ethical dimension.
The Study was jointly launched by the EC and the CoE in September 2010. It aimed at providing insights into the effects produced by the CoE Cultural Routes Programme on SMEs' performance, network and cluster development and to examine the potential of Cultural Routes for promoting sustainable and quality tourism in Europe, strengthening European identity, disseminating the richness of European cultures and fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.
A new Joint Management 2011-2012 (JM) has been agreed between the EC and the CoE. The aim is to provide a follow-up to the Study on European Cultural Routes, starting from its main findings and the recommendations for future actions provided by the experts. Giving the aforementioned problems and recommendations which have been identified, an action plan has been agreed upon by the two Institutions. The JM will be organised around 4 main axes: training, governance strengthening, branding and marketing, and international cooperation.
The European Tourism Day (the Commission's biggest event focusing on tourism), is organised every year by the Commission on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on the 27th September, was focused in 2010 on cultural routes, with special attention given to pilgrimage routes and religious tourism, while the 2011 edition was focused on cultural routes built around European industrial heritage.
Two calls for proposals have been published in July and August 2011 aiming at supporting transnational thematic and sustainable tourism products through financing networking and promotional activities, ICT applications development, joint initiatives, vertical integration of SMEs along the routes, etc..
The action will continue in 2012 with a foreseen call for proposals with a budget of 700,000 EUR.
The initiative "EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence", launched in 2006 as preparatory action, promotes sustainable tourism development models across the EU. National competitions take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist "destination of excellence" (EDEN award) for each participating country. The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability. Annual themes are chosen jointly by the Commission and national tourism authorities. The specific theme in 2011 was the "Regeneration of physical sites"".
It has been decided to organise an annual "fair" on cultural routes, "Carrefours d'Europe". This annual event would take place at a cross-road between different cultural routes. The first pilot event will take place next year from the 7th to the 10th June 2012 in Pavia (Italy), which is at the cross of 4 cultural routes.