Composed by 4 beneficiaries with extensive experience in EU-funded projects (Municipality of Zitsa-LB, Municipality of Metsovo, Regional Council of Korce, Municipality of Dropull), with abundant cultural resources, the CLLD-CulTour partnership argues that cultural tourism can provide an alternative to mass tourism in cross-border territories, and hence, reduce its negative effects (e.g. seasonality, excesses in carrying capacity of the coastal zone) and contribute to the reduction of unemployment in programme territories (e.g. 23,4% in Epirus – December 2018). However, despite the abundance of cultural resources in programme territories, the fact that tangible and intangible cultural resources tend to be scattered and isolated across programme territories, alongside the organizational and financial weaknesses of the cultural sector and public administrations, means that so far, programme territories have not managed to valorize their potential for cultural tourism development.
CLLD-CulTour suggests that these weaknesses can be overcome through the application of the Community-Led Local Development tool (CLLD) to the design and advancement of cultural tourism development, which proposes the application of community-based planning through the function of local stakeholder action groups. Nevertheless, due to the isolation of cultural resources in cross-border territories, CLLD needs to be customized to be used therein through the formation of cross-border action groups in the cultural tourism sector. The key objective of CLLD-CulTour is to initiate the formation of cross-border action groups capable of developing innovative cultural tourism products, such as thematic tourism routes via the use of innovative digital tools and exhibition centres. This way, CLLD-CulTour will contribute to tourism growth in cross-border regions via the prolongation of the touristic season and the diversification of the touristic offers of programme territories.
In addition, CLLD-CulTour will increase the efficiency of the public sector for applying innovative community-based approaches to development, and will ensure community involvement in the preservation and valorisation of cultural heritage. To achieve this, CLLD-CulTour will cover the whole spectrum of the process of customizing and applying CLLD in cross-border territories. CLLD-CulTour includes horizontal management & coordination and dissemination activities and three thematic WPs which will a) map the cultural resources of partnership territories, customize CLLD, and design a joint strategy for cultural tourism development (WP3), b) build the capacity of public and private sector stakeholders to apply the customized CLLD methodology (WP4), and c) culminate in developing the main CLLD-CulTour output, i.e. the ‘Culture of the Cradle of Europe’ route via the formation of cross-border action groups and the use of Web GIS platforms, mobile apps and exhibition centres (WP5).