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Cultural tourism

"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 26 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 regularly calls for proposals to support initiatives, promoting and giving more visibility to trans-national Cultural-Tourism products.

Projects selected in 2013

Cooperation projects to support transnational tourism based on European cultural and industrial heritage

 ProjectsCo-ordinator /Lead partnerDescription
Curioseaty - A discovery route of Europe's nautical and sub-aquatic cultural heritageAsociación Española de Estaciones Náuticas (Spain) Info
Extra_Expo - From Extraction to ExpositionLucca Promos s.c.r.l. (Italy) Info
Grail - Holy Grail RouteUniversity of Zaragoza (Spain) Info
L´Aqua – Legends and myths on water for European tourist routesL´AQUA AEI Cluster de Turismo de Extremadura (Spain) Info
Roman spas - In the footsteps of the RomansEuropean Spas Association (Belgium) Info
Linking the lines - Experience Europe "from war to peace" through World Heritage fortifications and defence linesDienst Landelijk gebied - DLG (The Netherlands)  Info

Projects selected in 2012:

Cooperation projects to create transnational tourism products based on cultural and industrial heritage

ProjectsCo-ordinator /Lead partnerDescription
CoopRoute-The European Route of Cooperative Culture

The European Confederation of Workers’ Cooperatives, Social Cooperatives and Social and Participative Enterprises

Info pdf - 970 KB [970 KB]
Liberation Route Europe - Experience the diversity and unification of Europe through the WWII Cultural Heritage Landscape

Arnhem Nijmegen City Region

Info pdf - 346 KB [346 KB]

EUSky Route - European AstroTourism Route

Spet Turismo de Teneriffe

Info pdf - 16 KB [16 KB]
EUheritage Tour - Network for European cultural heritage tourismX23LtdInfo pdf - 408 KB [408 KB]

Projects selected in 2011:

ProjectsCo-ordinator /Lead partnerDescription

CERTO - Cultural European Routes: Tools for a coordinated
communication & marketing strategy

Cammini d'Europa

Info pdf - 20 KB [20 KB] pdf - 970 KB [970 KB]

TECH –TOUR - Technology and tourism: augmented reality for the promotion of the Roman and Byzantine itineraries

Unioncamere Veneto

Info pdf - 18 KB [18 KB] pdf - 346 KB [346 KB]

Cultural routes in the Middle and Lower Danube Region

Danube Competence Centre

Info pdf - 19 KB [19 KB] pdf - 16 KB [16 KB]

ODYSSEA CULTURES EURO-MED - Itinéraire culturel des Ports & Cultures de la Méditerranée

Ville d'Agdev pdf - 408 KB [408 KB]

WE.COME - hidden WondErs of our COMmon European heritages

Lucca PromosInfo pdf - 672 KB [672 KB]

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