Meet The Team
The European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) was established in Brussels in 2009, following the merger of two networks set up by ECTN INTERREG IIIC Operation led by the Wales Government and CHIRON INTERREG IIIB CADSES (Network for European Cultural Tourism Authorities & Regions - NECTAR), led by ‘EKPOL - Social & Cultural Council’ of the then Magnesia Prefecture, now of Thessalia Region Authority, Greece.
ECTN is a non-profit international association registered and based in Brussels (Association Internationale sans but lucrative, AISBL). ECTN members are Regional and Local Authorities, City and County Councils, Tourism Boards and Associations, Universities and Research Institutes, Destination Management Organisations.
Currently ECTN has 39 Members, from 14 EU member`s states (BG, CY, EL, ES, HR, HU, IE, IT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SE, UK) and from 6 associated other countries (AL, BH, ME, RS, GE, UA).
ECTN is the only network which brings together the tourism and cultural industry professionals working in different regions of Europe to exchange experience and information on best practice, as well as to develop new approaches and innovations for sustainable cultural tourism.
- Objectives of ECTN:
- facilitate the development of transnational and inter-regional cooperation projects
- create new and innovative approaches and tools
- ensure improved cooperation and integration between the tourism and cultural sectors
- develop and improve training opportunities
- enable exchange of experience and best practice
- develop common responses to European Commission and other EU institutions consultation
- link with other networks
- facilitate sharing of research
ECTN has established and operates through three Working Groups:
- Research group led by Barcelona University, LabPATC/Ibertur (Catalunya) seeks to work collaboratively on research to improve our understanding of the contribution that cultural tourism makes to regional economies, the role that it plays in stimulation the creative industries and the universities and HE establishments with an interest in cultural tourism.
- Practitioners Group led by the Sibiu County Tourism Association (Romania) exchange best practice and work collaboratively on the development of practical tools to improve the planning and management of cultural tourism destinations. An early priority is to work with Europa Nostra on an eco-label for sustainable cultural tourism destinations and the development of a benchmarking system to support this.
- Policy group led Vidzeme Tourism Association, Latvia, utilises the evidence from the Research and Practitioners groups to influence policy makers working alongside local & regional politicians.
Charter for Sustainable Cultural Tourism
ECTN has contributed to the development of a Charter for Sustainable Cultural Tourism, also known as the ‘Thessalia Charter’ having firstly been proposed and adopted in Volos, Magnesia, Thessalia Region in Greece, in September 2014. An updated version of the Charter was presented in Brussels in November 2016 and has been the contribution of ECTN to the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.
The purpose of this Charter is to bring together in a single, comprehensive and integrated document the main principles, features, findings, conclusions and recommendations on good practices regarding ‘Culture & Heritage Added-value to Regional policies for Tourism Sustainability’ (CHARTS INTERREG IVC Project). This ‘CHARTS Charter’ aims to build on all relevant previous initiatives, declarations, resolutions, opinions and charters, to exploit synergies and facilitate implementation of the recommendations by the national, regional and local destinations authorities responsible. The overall aim is to encourage sustainable and responsible tourism policies and actions across Europe and beyond, through engaging culture and heritage with innovation and cohesion.
This Charter has been developed, discussed and agreed as an output of the CHARTS project in the INTERREG IVC interregional cooperation programme of the European Union, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is aimed at national, regional and local government authorities, destination management agencies, tourism promotion bodies, tourism boards, tourism associations, tourism networks, cultural networks, civil society bodies and community groups, non-governmental organisations, associations of small medium enterprises, European Union institutions, international bodies and other interested bodies and relevant stakeholders.
The CHARTS Project Mission has been to enrich regional policies with culture and heritage as added value for tourism sustainability by exchange experience amongst the partners in established Good Practices on the sustainable management of culture, heritage and landscape through communication and collaboration, whilst bearing in mind the effects of innovation and creating a base of knowledge that can span well beyond the project’s end. CHARTS Project started in January 2012 and was completed in December 2014.
This Charter is structured as follows:
Principles, where reference to previous relevant documents is made
Articles, which outline the good practice themes and sub-themes already documented, as well as proposed themes for future capitalisation
Actions & Proposals, which state the proposed actions and procedures
Epilogue, on conclusions
Glossary, giving the definitions of the terms used.
A total of 30 priority themes, related to best practices, have been identified towards the development and promotion of sustainable cultural tourism.
This Charter is a statement of principles on regional policies and strategies which guide the development, planning, management, operations and promotion of cultural and heritage tourism in the European Union and beyond, for the benefit of destinations, communities, businesses, citizens and visitors.
This Charter reflects the increasing emphasis given to the issues concerning the preservation and diffusion of the European Culture and Heritage (including contemporary culture and natural heritage), in the light of its connection to Responsible Tourism and Sustainability. In this context, the creation of sustainable, innovative and transnational new and upgraded tourism products and services based on culture and heritage should be considered of crucial importance. The emphasis of the Charter is on tackling climate change impacts at destinations, provision of access for all to the cultural and natural resources, building effective partnerships at the destination level, involvement of the local host communities, familiarization of visitors with the local culture and heritage towards responsible tourism, enhancing services quality and visitor information, introducing place marketing strategies, promoting cultural routes, railway heritage, gastronomy, traditional skills, cyclo-tourism, as well as overcoming the economic crisis and its aftermath through employment generation, innovation, socio-economic cohesion and sustainable development.
The Charter forms a contribution by ECTN to the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018’ (EYCH21018) and particularly to the 5th initiative on ‘Tourism & heritage: responsible and sustainable tourism around cultural heritage’.
Culture and Tourism Synergies promoted and capitalized by ECTN
ECTN has co-signed the 'European Tourism Manifesto for Growth & Jobs' led by the European Travel Commission (ETC) along with some 40 signatories, European associations related to tourism. ECTN is also a founding member of the 'European Heritage Alliance 3.3' (EHA) comprising some 40 European or international organizations active in cultural heritage, led by Europa Nostra.
Following involvement of ETC & Europa Nostra in the ECTN annual conference in 2016 with keynote speakers, ETC joined the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 & Europa Nostra co-signed the European Tourism Manifesto for Growth & Jobs in January 2017. ECTN thus brought together the European Tourism Manifesto signatories & the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 members, to work together for sustainable cultural tourism in Europe, involving some 80 bodies in the tourism & cultural heritage sectors at pan-European level (also in relation to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, 5th initiative).
ECTN has been selected by the European Commission DG EAC as a member of the Stakeholders Committee supporting the activities of European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH2018), following an open call whereby 310 applications were submitted in 2017 and 30 European networks were selected. ECTN has been the only member of the EYCH Stakeholder Committee with a direct reference and mandate in sustainable and responsible cultural tourism.
ECTN Awards: Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism
ECTN has organized since 2014 an annual contest for Awards on various themes and categories, for the benefit of destinations, communities, associations, businesses, citizens and visitors. These are the only awards dedicated to cultural tourism. The ECTN Awards enhance the visibility of European cultural tourism destinations, create a platform for sharing experience and knowledge and promote networking between cultural destinations. The Awards contest is open to tourist destinations across Europe, to showcase their results and outputs in sustainable cultural tourism under selected categories.
In 2018 there was a special edition of the Awards for ‘Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism’, organized by ECTN in partnership with Europa Nostra and the European Travel Commission, supported by NECSTouR, as a contribution to the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.
The 2019 edition of the Awards for ‘Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism’ is organized by ECTN in partnership with Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission and NECSTouR, supported by Iter Vitis Cultural Route of the Council of Europe. It follows on from the 2018 Awards as a contribution to the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’ (EYCH2018), by a similar partnership (also supported by Iterr Vitis Cultural Route of the Council of Europe) and aims to contribute towards the legacy of EYCH2018 through the ‘European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage’.
The Joint Awards are open to all tourist destinations across Europe, national, regional and local authorities, tourism boards and associations, destination management organisations, museums, interpretation centres, festivals and cultural NGOs.
The Awards are given for achievements by cultural tourist destinations which have produced significant results related to enhancing visitor experience while respecting traditions and involving local communities.
The 2019 Awards address the following heritage-related aspects of sustainable cultural tourism:
- Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Heritage Interpretation Facilities
- Innovation and Digitisation in Cultural Tourism Development and Promotion
- Transnational Thematic Tourism Products, including Cultural Routes
- Culinary Heritage, Wine, Food and Gastronomy Tourism (in partnership with Iter Vitis for wine tourism and FOODBIZ Erasmus+ project led by University of Macerata)
- Contributions by Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) to Cultural and Creative Tourism
- Actions during the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018’, initiative on ‘Tourism and heritage’.
The Awards Jury was composed of experts from several European countries, appointed by ECTN, Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission, NECSTouR, FOODBIZ project partnership and Iter Vitis, as well as the European Commission Directorate-General of Education and Culture (DG EAC).
In 2020, the ECTN Awards included the following categories:
- Industrial Heritage Tourism
- Maritime, Coastal and Aquatic Heritage, supported by ‘The Phoenicians Route’ cultural route of the Council of Europe
- Innovation and Digitalisation in Sustainable Cultural Tourism, towards Smart Destinations
- Transnational Thematic Tourism Products, including European Cultural Routes
- Wine Tourism, supported by the ‘Iter Vitis’ cultural route of the Council of Europe.
The Awards Jury was composed of experts from several European countries, appointed by ECTN, Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission, NECSTouR, The Phoenicians Route and Iter Vitis Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, as well as the European Commission Directorate-General of Education and Culture (DG EAC).
In 2021, the ECTN Awards include the following categories:
- Archaeological Sites and Museums as Cultural Tourism Attractions
- Walking Tourism and Slow Travel – Synergies with Cultural Tourism, supported by Via Francigena Cultural Route of the Council of Europe
- Digitalisation in Sustainable Cultural Tourism, towards Smart Destinations
- Transnational Thematic Tourism Products, including European Cultural Routes
- Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) contribution to Cultural and Creative Tourism development, in the framework of the ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021’ and Interreg Europe Cult-CreaTE project, supported by ‘Creative Tourism Network’
- Railway Heritage Assets for Cultural Tourism, in the framework of the ‘European Year of Rail 2021’.
The Awards Jury is composed of experts from several European countries, appointed by ECTN, Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission, NECSTouR, Via Francigena Cultural Route of the Council of Europe and the Creative Tourism Network, as well as the European Commission Directorate-General of Education and Culture (DG EAC).
ECTN Annual Conference
ECTN organizes an international conference every autumn on a regular basis since 2013 and on different annual themes, viz:
- 2013: Cultural Tourism in the Experience Economy
- 2014: Engaging Culture & Heritage for Sustainable Tourism Development
- 2015: Industrial Heritage: Prospects for Sustainable Tourism
- 2016: Intangible Heritage: Incomparable Asset for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism
- 2017: Cultural Values, Diversity and Heritage: Pillars of Sustainable Tourism for Development
- 2018: Cultural Heritage as an Asset for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism
- 2019: Culture and Heritage for Responsible, Innovative and Sustainable Tourism Actions.
- 2020: Post-pandemic Recovery of European Tourism through Culture, Heritage and Creativity.
- 2021: Regenerating European Tourism through Culture, Heritage and Creativity.
Links of ECTN’s profile to the tasks of ReInHerit CSA
ECTN is in an excellent position to communicate and disseminate the CSA results to policymakers and practitioners having a wide and highly relevant base of members that cover several countries d types of cultural tourism types and stages of development. ECTN will also offer its well-established media, namely the annual conference and Awards contest to facilitate the dissemination of the project results by relevant stakeholders, namely regional and local authorities (culture and tourism departments), destination management organizations, tourism boards and associations. ECTN is also ideally placed to communicate the project results to EU institutions in Brussels, particularly through the annual European Tourism Forum and European Tourism Day event, the Culture Forum, the European Week of Regions and Cities and the European Heritage Days (Council of Europe).