The much anticipated ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’ (EYCH) hit the ground running across the continent in 2018. ETC made its mark contributing to the year’s initiatives and highlighting the importance of tourism for cultural heritage and the inextricable links between both sectors. A close partnership was developed with many organisations from the cultural heritage sector, in particular with Europa Nostra (the pan-European federation of heritage NGOs), the European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) and the Network of European Regions for Competitive and Sustainable Tourism (NECSTouR).
European Heritage Alliance 3.3
Following the official launch of the EYCH at the Culture Forum in Milan in December 2017, ETC capitalised on the opportunity to host the next meeting of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 at its premises in Brussels in early March, and then once again in October. The alliance is a pan-European platform coordinated by Europa Nostra, bringing together over 40 European or international networks active in the wider field of cultural heritage. Together the alliance discusses updates on policy advancements and new projects related to cultural heritage as well as how synergies can be enhanced with other sectors such as tourism. It also acts as a forum for members to share ideas, best practices and updates on their own activities.
Interactive workshop at the European Cultural Heritage Summit
The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the European Cultural Heritage Summit which took place in Berlin last June, attracting hundreds of public and private stakeholders from around Europe as well as members of civil society and high-level representatives from EU institutions and Member States. The summit was concluded with the signing of the Berlin Call to Action, a statement calling for a more ambitious agenda and action plan for cultural heritage which was prepared in line with input provided by the European Heritage Alliance. ETC had the opportunity to sign this Call at a separate event in Brussels in early 2019.
ETC had the pleasure of hosting an interactive workshop in the framework of this summit, entitled ‘Contribution of Tourism Promotion to Cultural Heritage’. The workshop aimed to raise awareness of the value of tourism promotion to cultural heritage and how it can be effectively used as an asset for: socio-economic and urban development, social and cultural sustainability and preservation and conservation. Additionally, it served as an opportunity for participants to contribute to the Barcelona Declaration with their own input. It was attended by approximately 50 people and featured speakers from Europa Nostra, National Geographic, NECSTouR, ECTN and the European Commission (DG EAC).
ETC’s support for the EYCH 2018 took a transatlantic approach last spring with the launch of an integrated digital marketing campaign “Europe for Culture” in the United States and Canada, in cooperation with Smithsonian, United and Air Canada. The campaign was aimed at raising awareness of Europe’s rich and diverse cultural travel destinations and promoting 2018 as the year of unique cultural initiatives all around the continent. A dedicated landing page on VisitEurope.com was serving as a content hub where consumers could find a wide range of information on cultural travel experiences in Europe in 2018, including such initiatives as European Capitals of Culture, the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, European Heritage Days, European Cultural Festivals and many others. Potential travellers were attracted to the platform via digital advertising, social media and email marketing. The campaign was a major success reaching over 11 million impressions and raising Europe’s year over year destination appeal by 4%.
Sustainable Cultural Tourism Awards
In the second half of the EYCH, ETC joined forces with ECTN and Europa Nostra, to address one of the 10 initiatives of the Year: ‘Tourism and Heritage: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism around Cultural Heritage’ with a special edition of ECTN’s annual ‘Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism’ awards, this year focused on ‘Cultural Heritage as an Asset for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism’. The Awards covered six heritage-related aspects of cultural tourism and were open to all tourist destinations across Europe, local and regional authorities, tourism boards and associations, destination management organisations, and cultural NGOs. The scheme aimed to recognise the achievements of cultural tourist destinations which produced significant results related to enhancing visitor experience while respecting traditions and involving local communities. Over 50 applications were received from more than 15 European countries. The finalists and winners were decided by a jury of experts in the field of sustainable tourism and cultural heritage, and announced at the awards ceremony held during the 11th International Conference for Cultural Tourism on 26th October in Paphos, Cyprus.
Another key initiative in which ETC was involved throughout the EYCH was NECSTouR’s Barcelona Declaration of tourism and cultural heritage ‘Better places to live, better places to visit’, which addresses five key principles to ensure the sustainability of cultural heritage, while also finding a balance between local communities and tourists. This declaration was launched at NECSTouR’s conference in Barcelona in April, during which ETC participated in the panel discussion ‘Tourism and Cultural EU Representatives: Embedding the Declaration’.
ETC believes that the EYCH 2018 has been a highly successful initiative in underlining the importance of cultural heritage for Europe’s past, present and future, and in developing cross-sector synergies. We look forward to another fruitful year of collaboration with the heritage sector in 2019 and beyond.