"Europe must offer sustainable and high-quality tourism, playing on its comparative advantages, in particular the diversity of its countryside and extraordinary cultural wealth."
With this statement, the Commission communication "Europe, the world's No 1 tourist destination - a new political framework for tourism in Europe" confirms the significant role of cultural tourism.
Europe is indeed a key cultural tourism destination, with a large number of major sites and a strong flow of international and domestic visitors. It is estimated that cultural tourism accounts for around 40% of all European tourism.
Tourists are more and more looking for true experiences, for meeting and getting to know other people and other cultures.
Tourism policies will need to adapt to these trends and develop a quality offer promoting local cultures and traditions and paying attention to sustainable aspects: preservation of the heritage, of the landscape, of the local culture.
Transnational cultural tourism products represent common European shared values and heritage. They contribute to present and promote Europe as a "unique tourism destination". Therefore the European Commission is implementing a number of activities to support transnational tourism products based on specific themes which still have great potential for growth.
European cultural routes
"European Cultural Routes" crossing several regions or countries are a good starting point to promote the variety and complexity of European cultural tourism offer.
Cultural routes have a strong tourism potential, still mostly unexplored.
They are both transnational and representative of European common heritage and values.
They are also regarded as being a sustainable, ethical and social model, because they build on local knowledge, skills and heritage assets, they often promote lesser known European destinations.
Moreover, 90% of their trails are in rural areas.
Active cooperation with the Council of Europe, the European Travel Commission, UN World Tourism Organisation and other international partners is contributing to further develop Pan-European Thematic Tourism Routes.
At the time being there are 29 trans-national itineraries connecting several cities, villages, rural communities across the continent and representing Europe as a single tourism destination.
Study "European Cultural Routes impact on SMEs' innovation, competitiveness, and clustering.
A study launched by the European Commission and the Council of Europe has assessed the impact that the promotion of cultural routes has on small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector.
Crossroads of Europe
The new initiative "Crossroads of Europe" will promote the European cultural itineraries and raise awareness about their potential for tourism among stakeholders and businesses, destination managers, national and local authorities.
This first edition took place in Pavia, Italy, from 6th to 10th June 2012.
In 2013, the event was organised in Toulouse, France from 15 to 18 May.
Projects on cultural tourism
The European Commission is publishing annually a call for proposal to support initiatives promoting and giving more visibility to trans-national Cultural-Tourism products.
In 2011, five projects have been selected for funding :
|Awarded proposals||Co-ordinator /Lead partner||Abstract|
CERTO - Cultural European Routes: Tools for a coordinated
|Cammini d'Europa||Info [20 KB]|
TECH –TOUR - Technology and tourism: augmented reality for
|Unioncamere Veneto||Info [18 KB]|
|Cultural routes in the Middle and Lower Danube Region||Danube Competence Centre||Info [19 KB]|
ODYSSEA CULTURES EURO-MED - Itinéraire culturel des Ports & Cultures de la Méditerranée
|Ville d'Agde||Info [18 KB]|
WE.COME - hidden WondErs of our COMmon European heritages
|Lucca Promos||Info [672 KB]|