Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Building Better Futures

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Sustainable Cultural Tourism, Building Better Futures
Image courtesy of Madrugada Verde/stock.adobe.com

Within the realm of sustainable cultural tourism, there lies a transformative power to bolster inclusive and sustainable development in remote and often overlooked regions.

Pioneering insights from the TExTOUR project, backed by the European Union, offer a multifaceted solution that transcends the mere utilisation of participatory processes.

In their comprehensive research, the scholars underline the indispensable role of participatory processes, which facilitate the active engagement of all community members in decision-making.

However, the researchers emphasise that for a holistic and sustainable cultural tourism strategy, it is essential to intertwine these processes with the four pillars of sustainable development, which encompass economic, cultural, environmental, and social sustainability.

In essence, each facet of these four pillars must be seamlessly integrated into both the theoretical framework and the practical execution of participatory processes to truly realise sustainable cultural tourism development.

The study introduces a groundbreaking participatory methodology tailored for cultural tourism, aptly named the Sustainability-Driven Participatory Process (SDPP). This method has undergone rigorous testing in eight diverse case studies spanning Europe and beyond.

The SDPP, as the study highlights, "empowers the incorporation of all four pillars of sustainability at every juncture of the co-creation process."

Furthermore, the study elaborates, "The SDPP expands upon the conventional tourism planning framework by cultivating and integrating various activities and tools geared toward fostering critical reflection and hands-on decision-making regarding sustainability and its interconnected dimensions throughout each phase.

This adaptive participatory planning methodology is equally applicable when initiated by governmental bodies or other local stakeholders interested in fostering sustainable tourism within their region. By promoting a more comprehensive and well-rounded approach to sustainability-driven cultural tourism development, it holds the promise of aiding those seeking sustainable and inclusive strategies for planning and cultivating local heritage-based tourism."

The SDPP, accompanied by the tools featured in the study, is underpinned by a three-step approach aimed at fortifying cultural tourism in a sustainable, diverse, inclusive, and innovative manner. The paper notably focuses on three activities designed for participatory workshops: the co-mapping exercise, the Action Co-creation process, and an adapted Business Model Canvas. These activities collectively contribute to an innovative participatory process, all the while keeping a vigilant eye on the four pillars of sustainable development.

Revitalising Cultural Tourism in Narva: A Case Study

Among the eight case studies conducted by TExTOUR, one takes us to Narva, a lesser-known region situated on the border of Estonia and Russia.

This area encompasses the city of Narva and the post-industrial Kreenholm district. Kreenholm, once a thriving textile manufacturing hub, held the distinction of being one of Europe's and Tsarist Russia's largest textile manufacturers during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The factory, along with its surrounding residential and utility structures, formed a self-contained community. However, while Kreenholm thrived under Soviet rule, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the global shift in textile industries left behind numerous vacant spaces within Kreenholm, which now stand as an integral part of Narva's invaluable cultural heritage.

As part of the TExTOUR initiative (Social Innovation and TEchnologies for Sustainable Growth through participative cultural TOURism), a thematic route has been meticulously crafted around Kreenholm.

This new route, unveiled on July 13, 2023, promises an immersive experience for visitors. As described in a recent news update, while wandering the streets of Kreenholm, visitors have the opportunity to scan QR codes strategically placed along the route, accessing information in English, Estonian, or Russian. The 3.5-kilometre route encompasses 18 noteworthy sites and offers an enriching journey that can be completed in approximately one hour.

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Source: European Commission

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