Cheese route as an innovative cultural heritage driving force for rural tourism development in the cross-border area

Priority axis

2 - Boosting the local economy

Specific objective

2.1 Preserve cultural and natural resources as a prerequisite for tourism development of the cross border area




24 months

The Greece Albania CB area presents a unique opportunity for the implementation of sustainable new development models, based on its regional geographic position, richness of natural endowments, numerous examples of cultural & historic heritage, as well as vibrant folklore. However, the tourism sector related activities are not a dominant economic activity in a large part of the CB area, especially in the inland rural part, thus not providing a stable or self-reliant source of income for local population and business people.

As a result, despite the presence of abundant natural environment potential, the tourism industry has yet to become a major development driver. Moving deeper in the cultural aspect of the area, it becomes clear that for the regions of Epirus (Ioannina & Arta Regional Units) and Gjirokastër County livestock herding and the production of dairy products, most notably cheese, milk and yogurt, are an integral part of local culture and culinary tradition.

CheeseCulT aims at tackling the aforementioned challenges by diagnosing linkages between dairy products value chains & tourism, mapping and eventually establishing a unique Cheese Route (as a driving force for tourism development) with various sub routes.

The overall objective is to preserve the local culinary tradition and effectively use innovative tools and approaches to capitalize the benefits of the said tradition into the CB areas tourism development plan in order to achieve increase in tourist visitors & boost the local economy.

The project places the CB Cheese Route on the tourism market by enhancing and stimulating competitiveness of the tourism products along the Route; strengthening internal cohesion of the Route localities and key stakeholders; and by improving visibility and market uptake, focusing on the local cheese making and the rich agri-food tradition of the CB areas.

The project consists of 5 interconnected WPs. The basis of the project and main output will be the identification of the linkages between the CB Dairy Value Chains & Tourism potential via relating Diagnosis Studies, leading to the design/ mapping of a joint Cheese Route derived by activities such as selection criteria creation, development of a respective database and GIS, using regional data for the production of various thematic routes. The design of the Cheese Route will be supplemented by a set of jointly developed training activities for local stakeholders on both countries, innovative actions (pestablishment of the unique Cheese Route with the help of IT, two Cheese Exhibitions Centres, being part of the newly introduced Cheese Route, Joint e-Cheese Cookbook, Cheese Agri-tourism network). These innovations will improve the thematic approach of services & staff, leading to an opening towards sustainable tourism clientele and will contribute to an increase of tourist stays.

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