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Challenge Accepted: Circular Tourism In The Eu As A Sustainable Growth Model

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemics on global tourism trends are still visible today: despite the ongoing recovery, domestic tourism and travel close to home, as well as open-air activities, nature-based products and rural tourism are among the major travel trends that will continue shaping tourism in 2022. Among the wide range of tourism destinations, offbeat ones – mostly in hidden rural areas – have an increasing role in European countries (European Agenda for Tourism 2050). 

Even though regional community-based tourism (with offbeat destinations) is indicated in EU and territorial strategies as an efficient driver of the tourism industry, its development following a greener and more digital approach is not a standard component of the related agendas. The highlighted tendencies raise the need for new approaches. According to experts, the tourism industry plays a significant role in the economic transformation to the circular economy, since tourism has a multiplier effect and a wide-ranging supply chain. 

The tourism sector in Europe is dominated by small businesses that provide goods and services to a visiting tourist clientele, thus allowing it to shape the social and economic development of local communities. Given the scale of its impact, a new concept of tourism has emerged, called community-based tourism (CBT). 

Community-based tourism in a nutshell 

Community-based tourism ensures that local communities have full ownership and management of the tourism experience, so that the economic benefits of tourism stay within their community. Intended as a participative process in which rural business activities and the local community manage resources with the aim to improve collective well-being, CBT is a synonym of offbeat tourism: as it is not difficult to guess, investing in the promotion of offbeat destinations generates revenues that can in turn contribute to the preservation of the environment and provide upskilling opportunities for the empowerment of women and disadvantaged groups. 

In addition, offbeat tourism can boost productivity and therefore incentivize the involvement of the young, digitally educated generation. When observing EU countries like Italy and Greece where the migration-unemployment nexus is more evident, the development and implementation of CBT strategy can eventually help reduce both of them. 

Why a project on this topic and for which purpose?

However, the reality is that many tourism businesses need further skills and competences on the acceleration of their services through the approach of community-based circular tourism. Building on this problem, Efektas Group will be implementing the new Erasmus+ KA2 project (KA220-ADU-BDFF4B85) “Local Mindset And Behavior Development For Competitive Community-Based Tourism By Increasing Digital And Green Competences Of Tourism Labor Force In Offbeat Destinations” (RE-CONNECT).

RE-CONNECT will have the following outcomes on its completion:

1) Dissemination of climate neutral tourism in offbeat destinations; 

2) Acceleration of the economic potential of rural areas; 

3) Spreading of green and digital solutions in less favored areas;

4) Significant competence development of the target group.

Specifically, Efektas Group is responsible for the creation of training modules that will enhance competences for greener and more digital tourism. Transnational cooperation among the partnership consortium will allow to develop and test the innovative approach for knowledge development, which is more practical than theoretical (“learning by doing”).

Finally, RE-CONNECT is a sustainable project which will produce long-term results for several target groups. 

TAGS: circular tourism, offbeat destinations, digital literacy, green competencies.