At International, pan-European, National, Regional and Local level, climate change and environmental risks affect heritage assets while the economic crisis and the need for cohesion supportive policies require to mitigate these and encourage management to adopt policies and strategies that will aid delivery at EU, regional and local level. Culture and Heritage are exploited by the tourism industry and especially in the New Member States they play an important role in economic development, bringing to the attention of the desicion makers the issue of preserving the culture, heritage and landscape.
- The environmental risks, the climate change and the degradation of the cultural heritage assets and landscape due to the thoughtless exploitation, are issues challenging all EU regions and is often very relevant to the cultural tourism sector, so the capitalisation of Good Practices will enable regions to mitigate and adapt to the changes. The issues are also important in terms of engaging host communities, while there is a need to develop quality criteria on the sustainability of cultural tourism destinations.
- The sustainability of tourism related with culture and heritage has to be ensured by building effective partnerships at destination level between the culture and tourism sectors involving all stakeholders. Further "push" to the sustainable cultural tourism destinations as a prototype of tourism developent using the added value of culture and heritage can be offered with the use of enhanced information to the tourists and with the improvement of the intellectual and physical accessibility to the heritage. There is also need for promotion and communication of the cultural tourism destinations and the Cultural Routes, which connect cultural places and assets at interregional level.
- Some of the challenges that culture and heritage are facing are extreme weather conditions with the northern regions experiencing floods while southern regions experiencing droughts. Challenges face water supply systems, waste, non-replacable fuels, energy pressures on communities and ecological footprints of residents and visitors. These challenges are difficult to deal with because of the segregation of the sectors and stakeholders. There is a focus on culture and tourism, however the challenges are cross-sector issues, therefore partners will bring in the sectors and decision-makers.
- Communication between the cultural and tourism sector is often very disjointed. The project address both matters by involving both the cultural/heritage and tourism sector and increasing communication. The goals of this project are in line with the operational objectives exchange of experience and improvement of capacities and knowledge of regional and local stakeholders, in particular, by matching less experienced regions with regions with more experience, identification, sharing and transfer of Good Practices into regional policies and potentially into EU Structural Funds Mainstream Programmes.
- The added value capitalisation of policies and strategies aim to influence Structural Funds in the future and make improvement to regional and local development policies. Experience gained in previous projects has indicated that this would be best tackled at Destination Management level operating a holistic approach across sectors such as heritage, tourism and environment.
- Cultural tourism sectors have developed differently and are at different stages of development with no standardised methodology. The project address this by collecting and transferring Good Practices and toolkits for the industry to use. In some regions the culture tourism frameworks are found within the cultural strategies not giving it the importance that the sector should receive.
- Whilst environmental factors are being strongly addressed the project will also look at the economic and social factors within heritage tourism destinations, addressing the Lisbon and Gothenburg Agendas.