Durrës, Albania, 3 April 2009
Cultural Tourism is a locally-driven phenomenon that offers a unique opportunity to combine regional economic development with the preservation of regional culture and heritage. For these initiatives to be sustainable, however, the wider population needs to benefit from them.
That is why the Assembly of European Regions (AER) hosted a seminar in Durrës (AL) focusing on the practical steps that regions can take to support the creation of small and medium enterprises in cultural tourism.
Concluding AER's series of cultural tourism seminars, initiated in May 2008, experts and around 100 representatives of regional authorities from across Europe exchanged ideas and best practices in the areas of SME-networks and entrepreneurial training in cultural tourism.
"Networks and the building of entrepreneurial clusters on the one hand and capacity building on the other are essential to the success of cultural tourism in a region", said Prof. Alan Clarke (University of Pannonia) in his opening statement. "In the end, it is the uniqueness of the idea and the concept developed around it that will decide on the viability of a project."
This series of seminars was only the first step in a number of AER activities in the field of cultural tourism. To ensure that tangible outcomes will result from this initiative, AER is planning to improve and extend its Tourism Network to include cultural tourism as one of its central topics. Once completed, AER member regions will be given a platform to display their cultural tourism projects, to discuss innovative approaches and methods in the area and to find partners for common projects.
AER will also work with experts from the University of Pannonia in Hungary to develop benchmarks to facilitate culture and heritage partnerships and the implementation of projects in cultural tourism.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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