Cultural tourism is important for local communities across Europe and given this sector’s expansion, in recent years, proper attention needs to be paid so that it may grow in a sustainable way. This requires that tourism policies bring social benefits, stimulate the local economy and enhance the environment.
Projects under both FP5 and FP6 have addressed these issues. SUIT, APPEAR and PICTURE brought together partners from different European countries to research the proactive management of cultural tourism. Given the impact of cultural tourism on urban resources and economies, it is important that tourism policies reflect this and ensure the protection of cultural heritage assets. Therefore these projects aimed at giving local and regional authorities, landowners, developers, project managers, museum curators, archeologists and conservators the best information possible to ensure the protection of not just Europe’s cultural heritage, but also its urban settings.
Accessibility projects, those that work to integrate subsoil archaeological remains in the contemporary urban environment, allowing them to be accessible to the widest audience possible, are often ill-equipped to handle the complex processes involved.
As such, APPEAR worked to produce guidelines for professionals, managers and decision-makers, which would allow them to make better informed decisions and identify, prioritise and implement the necessary actions to ensure urban archaeological sites can be made available to the public. By combining two approaches – decision-making and action planning – APPEAR attempted to ensure all possible problems are addressed before they become real.
The key result of APPEAR was the creation of a practical guide for the management of enhancement projects on urban archaeological sites. The guide is based on the principles of strategic management adapted by researchers from different disciplines and aims at giving decision makers the flexibility and creativity needed to run a successful accessibility project.
Promoting sustainable development is a major problem for cities across Europe. The scientific community has worked on developing ways to integrate environmental concerns with urban revitalisation polices with a view to ensuring sustainable development. As such, the SUIT project aimed to find the balance between environmental concerns and urban revitalisation.
European historical areas are ‘living systems‘, meaning that they contain social, technical and building networks and well as cultural assets. Conserving these areas is thus very difficult and falls under the scope of two European Directives on the environmental impact assessment.
SUIT researchers developed a flexible and consistent environmental assessment methodology. This methodology ensures cultural heritage conservation requirements are compatible with urban development. It aims to make long-term planning more accurate by basing it on more reliable forecasting. This is achieved through better modelling tools and assessment methodologies focused on analysis of historical areas. The information gathered through SUIT can then be transferred to experts, stakeholders and decision-makers to guarantee that environmental concerns and urban revitalisation can be achieved at the same time.
The PICTURE project examined to what extent cultural tourism is both a threat and an opportunity for conserving the urban built heritage diversity and quality of life. It also aimed to determine how far accessibility to scientific knowledge improves policies developed by cities to manage cultural tourism.
The above goals were achieved through several means. First, researchers evaluated the effects of tourism on social, environmental and economic wealth of small- and medium-sized European cities. A benchmark was set to measure the innovation of urban governance strategies and researchers gave local governments the tools and background to better assess the impact of tourism on their cities.
Researchers then collected information from stakeholders across Europe and analysed the data received. From this, PICTURE was able to prepare a strategic urban governance framework for cultural tourism design for small- and medium-sized European cities.