Tourism plays an important role for the local economies of the project areas (in both GR and BG). In both areas, despite the richness on tourism assets, the mainstream tourism remains the major draw. This fact, in relation with the economic crisis (meaning a drop in tourists’ numbers and lower income to local people) & the new market trends (demand for new sustainable tourism products, ICT technologies etc.) drive local actors to realizing the need for networking towards improving competitiveness of the local tourism product.
The present scheme, consisting of 7 partners (4 from Greece, 3 from Bulgaria), a mix of Local Authorities and Associations representing tourism, view the Program for Cross Border Cooperation Greece – Bulgaria as an opportunity to an essential step forward in the realization of their vision placing sustainability in the core of their policy.
Overall objective of the project is achieving cooperation between partners to jointly act to (re)designing the common tourism product of the area, placing sustainability in the core of their policy, so as for all local economic sectors and the entire region to benefit from, and to applying an offensive and destination based marketing for the proper product.
Use of ICT technologies for both planning and communication purposes as well as utilization of content and tools prepared within the context of other initiatives by the various local stakeholders should constitute a corner stone in the application of the particular policy.
Six (6) Work-Packages (WP), comprising several activities each, are foreseen for the project implementation.
The management of the project WP1 foresees operation of a central management structure for the overall project (LP) and one decentralized management structure per PP for coordination of proper activities.
A series of activities for informing on project and disseminating results are planned in WP2 over the whole project period.
In the WP 3 (Re)Shaping of the local common tourism product will be attempted. A strategic document on sustainable tourism will be designed and because of the importance of local actors’ involvement, seminars in all participating areas will take place, organized upon a common guide. In parallel, researches on sustainable tourism resources will be conducted for the stocktaking of tourism assets in the area. An e data base with the research findings will make them widely accessible. A study on the common sustainable tourism product for the whole area will determine tourist “experiences” of the common tourism destination that will be finally discussed on a common conference.
After identification of the tourism product, in WP4 the adaptation of local enterprises and sites to specific requirements is crucial. A guide for sustainability operational standards for enterprises and tourism sites, supporting material (strategy document & agreement protocol) will be designed, a conference and information seminars will be organized, aiming to setting up a volunteers’ network of enterprises and sites. A coordination structure will animate and certify the implementation of required quality and sustainability standards to enterprises and sites.
Once the common sustainable destination is identified, in WP5 devising the areas promotion is required. To this end the area’s marketing plan -with focus on ICT use, due to area’s remoteness- will be designed, researches on available information sources will be conducted, an e data base shall organize the information material. The next step for the areas promotion will be preparing the proper promotion material (short video films, trilingual brochure & flyers, texts and photos from each area for the web portal and green spots).
However, once the common sustainable destination is identified, Destination Management is the subject of growing importance, as destinations compete to provide highest quality of experience to visitors and to manage impacts of tourism on host communities and environments. To this aim in WP6 a common Destination Management Organization (DMO) will be established by local actors. A business plan, local conferences, an Agreement Protocol and animators will support the action. Finally a Destination Management System (DMS) will be implemented. This innovative system should consolidate and distribute a comprehensive range of tourism “experiences” via web platform and e info kiosks “green spots” for promoting the area, and supporting the activities of the DMO. A DMS Operation Guide and Training Manual will also be prepared.