Dissemination activities after the SPOT project’s completion

Following the completion of the project SPOT – Sustainable Spatial Planning of Tourism Destinations – we have allocated our savings towards conducting dissemination activities. Consequently, we have showcased our accomplishments at various conferences, including the Congress of Polish Geography, the AESOP 2023 Annual Congress: Integrated Planning in a World of Turbulence, and the 6th International Conference on Events ICE2023: Making Waves in Events. Additionally, we have published and contributed to the following papers and reports:

The SPOT project contributed to another European initiative, CREDinGREEN – Responding to Tourism Market Changes Caused by Covid-19 and the EU Green Deal through Micro-Credential-Certified Upskilling of SME Tourism Managers. Our aim was to explore how sustainable tourism planning and development can support the objectives of the European Green Deal. Within the SPOT project community, we believe that education and learning are pivotal in driving the green transition of Europe, with a particular focus on European tourism destinations. Therefore, the primary objective of our educational activities was to raise awareness among students, educators, and practitioners about the challenges associated with the spatial planning of tourism destinations and to prioritise sustainable development goals.

Colleagues from Mersin University, namely Yasemin Sarıkaya Levent, Ezgi Şahin, and Tolga Levent, recently published a paper titled “The Role of Tourism Planning in Land-Use/Land-Cover Changes in the Kızkalesi Tourism Destination.” Dissemination of the Turkish case within the SPOT project has been targeted by this publication. The goal of this article was to investigate the role of tourism planning processes in the spatial development of tourism destinations. The study conducted in Kızkalesi highlights deficiencies in policy, strategy, and spatial planning frameworks in directing and controlling Land-Use/Land-Cover changes. These deficiencies are not exclusive to Kızkalesi but may be relevant to other rapidly expanding small-scale tourism destinations.

On February 1, 2024, the European Commission unveiled the publication “Building hope: Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine.” Dissemination of 15 impactful Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps projects committed to aiding those affected by the war in Ukraine was the goal. We are proud that the SPOT project has been recognised as an exemplary practice. In response to the influx of refugees from Ukraine, the SPOT project, in collaboration with partners Faculty of Geographical Sciences at the University of Lodz, OpenStreetMap Poland, Polish Geographical Society, SoftwareMill, and Lodz.Travel, organised the MapoFaktura 2022 event. The objective was to evaluate the Lodz region’s capacity to temporarily host migrants using tourism facilities. The project empowered future tourism professionals with spatial data analysis and crisis management skills. It tackled geopolitical and socio-economic challenges, taking into account local needs and infrastructure accessibility. The territorial capacity to host migrants in the region of Lodz was thoroughly examined, considering the needs of local populations and the communication accessibility of discussed infrastructure. These remarkable achievements were recently showcased during the GeoNight international initiative.

Module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations on the BUP course platform

The module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations has already been published on the course platform of the Baltic University Programme. Enjoy open lectures and supplementary materials for students and teachers. For more, visit also our Repository. The module was prepared by Katarzyna Leśniewska-Napierała and Tomasz Napierała (ULODZ).

The open module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations was designed to achieve learning outcomes in the field of spatial planning of tourism destinations. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about various issues of spatial planning in tourism destinations, e.g., seasonality, overtourism, gentrification, tourist ghettos, tourism hypertrophy. Basic knowledge of spatial planning, sustainable development and tourism would be an advantage of the students. However, for those of participants who are out of mentioned fields, the sources of requested initial knowledge will be recommended.

Lectures of the module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations

The module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations consists of the following lectures accompanied by quizzes:

  • The first lecture starts with the introducing most crucial notions, including: sustainable development, sustainable tourism, and sustainable spatial planning.
  • The challenges of sustainable spatial planning in tourism destinations are the focus of the second lecture. Tourism is a spatial phenomenon. It both uses and shapes the landscape, as well as utilizes and affects social, economic, cultural, and political relations embedded in places visited by tourists. What is important, spatial impacts of tourism might be challenging for tourism destinations, or even have a negative consequences.
  • During the third lecture both policy and decision support tools which can be used in sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations are presented.
  • During the fourth lecture the results of Polish case study of the project SPOT are presented. The results of another project conducted by Tomasz Napierała and Katarzyna Leśniewska-Napierała and their seminar students are also discussed. This is to understand real challenges we meet when trying to apply sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations.

The course on sustainable tourism in the Baltic Sea Region

The module about sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations is an element of the course on sustainable tourism in the Baltic Sea Region. The course aims to provide a basic but comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the origins, applications, analyses and examples of sustainable tourism with a specific regional focus on the Baltic Sea. The course has both an interdisciplinary and interregional focus and is designed to give the learner a broad but still focused introduction to the topic with socio-political, economic and environmental viewpoints. The topics that will be covered in this course include the introduction of sustainable tourism, its stakeholders, challenges and theories. Numerous examples will be given, including cases and specific aspects of the topic. The course is a regional cooperation between many researchers across the Baltic Sea Region, including those from Sweden, Finland, Ukraine and Poland. The course consists of four modules:

  • An introduction to sustainable tourism
  • Aspects of sustainable tourism
  • Sustainable spatial planning of tourism destinations
  • Examples from the field

Education for events – events for education: Educational events within the SPOT project’s framework

Katarzyna Leśniewska-Napierała and Tomasz Napierała (both from University of Lodz) had an opportunity to present findings from the project SPOT during 6th International Conference on Events ICE2023 “Making waves in Poland | Transformational events”. The goal of the SPOT presentation was to evaluate how educational events might stimulate development of sustainable tourism. Understanding of local communities (their cultures, traditions, heritage, and environment, but also recent issues), is substantial when prioritising sustainable development goals. Thus, education becomes a focal point of future tourism.

Educational tourism beyond sustainable tourism priorities

Type of tourismEducating locals about…Educating visitors about…Priorities
Mass tourismQuality of hosting touristsMain tourist attractionsProfit of tourism industry
Sustainable tourismRediscovery own identityLocal natural and cultural heritageJoint understanding; Protection of local heritage
Educational tourismEngagement of tourists into local actionsContribution to local developmentJoint contribution to development of local culture, society, nature and economy
Source: own elaboration.

Educational tourism might contribute to development of destinations even more than sustainable tourism in a common sense. Learning places by educational events enables not only understanding localities by visitors, linking cultures of hosts and guests, but also contributing to local development, including cultural, social, environmental and economic contexts. However, organisation of the educational events targeting local context successfully requires a lot of efforts of organisers, locals and visitors.

The case of educational events within the SPOT project’s framework

The case used in this research were three events: study visits organised within the framework of the SPOT project and granted by Erasmus+ Programme. The study visits were organised in three different locations and dates: 1) Mersin (Turkey) – December 6-10, 2021, 2) Peniche (Portugal) – May 9-13, 2022, and 3) Turin (Italy) – September 19-23, 2022. The goal of each study visit was to work with students and cooperate with local actors towards solving spatial planning issues of selected local tourism destinations. Students representing five different universities participated in the study visits: University of Lodz (Poland, leader of the SPOT project), Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (Norway), Mersin University (Turkey), Politécnico de Leiria (Portugal), and Politecnico di Torino (Italy). Scientific support was offered by the researchers from Institute of Geography and Spatial Organisation of Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland). The method applied to address research questions and evaluate study visits were focus group interviews conducted by the researchers with all students who participated in study visits.

Some students said during group interviews:

Meeting with locals was impressive. (…) we had a lot of information from them. The meeting was the best part of the trip. It was very useful for our further studies. However, the program was intense, so the meeting duration was limited.

Other group emphasized:

Meeting with local actors was one of favourite parts of a study visit. We found it very useful and learned a lot about stakeholders from it. Although the mayor hardly expressed his opinion.

Successful educational events

Successful educational events contributing to sustainable development of tourism destinations must directly relate to the issues of tourism development. Participants of those events are eager to learn about the places visited, to meet with locals (we might call it ‘responsible consumption of visited places’) and are ready to propose and discuss solutions for any issues diagnosed in visited places (this should be recognised as a real involvement and contribution of visitors). To achieve the goal of joint contribution of locals and tourists to local development, participants of those educational events must be prepared in advance. Thus, it is easier to approach demanded goals when including those events into educational programmes. But, during investigated educational events, the focus on local context is a must for participants. This confirms the efficiency of place-based learning, or geographically embedded problem-based or project-based learning. This means that #GeographyMatters.

GastroMap of Lodz – SPOT celebrates 600th birthday of the city

GastroMap of Lodz – we’ve got it! On July 29, 2023 we are celebrating 600th anniversary of granting city rights to the city of Lodz. GastroMap of Lodz is the gift of the Polish community of the SPOT project to the city of Lodz: its inhabitants and visitors.

GastroMap of Lodz is the result of 4th edition of MapoFaktura event held on April 14, 2023. This year, the participants of the event updated OpenStreetMap with the information about gastronomy services in the city of Lodz. MapoFaktura was also part of the GeoNight international initiative. Participants had the opportunity to take part in interesting workshops with the experts: editors of OpenStreetMap, GIS scientists, and spatial data analysts. MapoFaktura was organised and supported by the Faculty of Geographical Sciences of the University of Lodz, the SPOT project, the Tourism Geography Commission of the Polish Geographical Society, the OpenStreetMap Poland, Lodz Tourist Organization and TomTom company.

GastroMap of Lodz and the MapoFaktura event were contributed mostly by students of the tourism and recreation master programme at the University of Lodz. As the goal of the MapoFaktura was to create GastroMap of Lodz, students had to engage in work long before the event. Data on gastronomy in Lodz had to be collected, updated, validated and delivered to all participants of MapoFaktura event. The event itself had to be organised and promoted.

GastroMap of Lodz

The conclusions drawn from the analysis of GastroMap of Lodz are extremely interesting. First of all, the high concentration of the gastronomic services in the city centre (mainly on Piotrkowska Street) was confirmed. But a significant number of those entities were evidenced also in the so-called sub-centres of the city – clusters of various functions, including gastronomic services, which have developed in the areas of large housing estates: Retkinia, Widzew Wschód, or in the Górna district.

Along with the discussion about sustainable development, we see the increase of awareness of the importance of what and how we eat. In this context, vegetarian and vegan cuisine are starting to play an important role. It is already confirmed that reducing meat consumption contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, from the perspective of sustainable development of Lodz, the availability of vegan and vegetarian offerings in the gastronomy services is important. Now, look at GastroMap of Lodz. Restaurants offering meat-free dishes are located mainly in the centre of Lodz. However, vegan and vegetarian cuisine is also available outside the central district, mainly along the primary communication routes.

Restaurants offering local, regional or Polish dishes have been operating in Lodz for a long time. They do not constitute the majority, but they guarantee residents and tourists access to dishes typical of the city, region or country. Importantly, this access is quite common outside the city centre. At GastroMap of Lodz we can find small gastronomy entities offering home cooking dishes prepared from products supplied by local food producers. This is very important in the context of the European “farm to fork” strategy. Its aim is not only to increase organic production. It is also important to reduce the environmental and economic costs associated with food transport. Consumers’ interest in local culture and identity, of which cuisine is a very significant part, is also important.

Intensive study programmes – the future of geographical, tourism, and spatial planning education

On Friday, June 2, 2023, Tomasz Napierała presented educational achievements and experiences of the project SPOT – Sustainable Spatial Planning of Tourism Destinations, during the educational session of the Congress of Polish Geography. The goal of the presentation was to assess the potentials of intensive study programmes for the future development of geographical, tourism, and spatial planning education. The presentation was prepared by Tomasz Napierała and Katarzyna Leśniewska-Napierała (both affiliated to the University of Lodz).

The idea of intensive study programmes – study visits of the SPOT project

Three study visits were carried out during the SPOT project in three different locations and dates: 1) Mersin (Turkey) – December 6-10, 2021, 2) Peniche (Portugal) – May 9-13, 2022, and 3) Turin (Italy) – September 19-23, 2022. From the educational perspective, all of them should be considered as intensive study programmes. The study visits were attended by students representing five different universities: University of Lodz (Poland, leader of the SPOT project), Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (Norway), Mersin University (Turkey), Politécnico de Leiria (Portugal), and Politecnico di Torino (Italy). The scientific partner of the project was the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The purpose of each study visit of the SPOT project was to involve students in delivering solutions for spatial planning issues identified in tourist destinations, and to increase the sustainability and resilience of the investigated areas. These study visits were based on the ideas of collaborative learning, problem-based learning, and project-based learning. The optimal programme of the study visit developed during the SPOT project consists of:

  • day 1 – reception of participants; lectures introducing and explaining the problem to be solved by students; task assignment and grouping of students and tutors;
  • day 2 – visit to the research area; focus group interview with stakeholders of the research area;
  • day 3 and 4 – workshops: stakeholder analysis (using GIS), participatory SWOT analysis, policy recommendations writing; teamwork of students to deliver an assignment;
  • day 5 and after the study visit – students’ presentations for the stakeholders of the research area; review, revision and publication of students’ reports.

Focus group interview was the method used to assess the educational effectiveness of intensive study programmes. Interviews were conducted with all students who participated in the study visits. The purpose of the interviews was not only to assess the educational effectiveness of the SPOT project’s study visits – intensive study programmes, but also to develop it. As a result, the learning outcomes increased from visit to visit.

What have the students learned during the SPOT project study visits?

They could increase the knowledge about the spatial planning system of the research area, but also about the geography of the study area. Students appreciated better understanding of the culture of the study area, but also of cultures of places where other students came from. After study visits they emphasized better understanding of the core concepts like sustainable development, sustainable tourism, and sustainable spatial planning. Young people appreciated the information about the role and importance of international institutions in the development of sustainable tourism or sustainable spatial planning (e.g., European Commission, UNESCO).

What skills and competencies have the students developed thanks to participation in the SPOT intensive study programmes?

They observed increase of their skills needed for efficient teamworking. Increase of both English language skills and intercultural competences were appreciated by the students. Teamworking in international group allowed students to understand how to better organize their working time as the team, and individually within the team. Also, students increased their ability to work under time pressure. The character of the study visits (‘locals talking’ sessions and local seminars) allowed students to better cooperate with stakeholders in the research area. The SPOT project’s focus on research excellence made students eager to integrate scientific approach with the practice of sustainable spatial planning, and to use an integrating, interdisciplinary approach based on methodological triangulation to solve assigned task.

What was the biggest challenge for students participating in the SPOT project’s study visits?

Students complained about differentiation of students’ opinions when making key group decisions. For some students it was quite frustrating when they identified different degree of commitment, skills (including language skills) and knowledge of students working in a group. They also complained about different degree of involvement and different styles of work of tutors. Limited free time and limited time for field work were quite challenging for the students. But, the biggest challenge resulted from the complexity of real spatial planning issues diagnosed in the selected tourism destinations.

What is the opinion of students on the teaching methods used during intensive study programmes?

Students underlined that teaching content, especially reports describing problem to be investigated and solved, must be available to students much before the intensive study programmes. Lectures make sense only when are used as an introduction. Lectures can be used to describe both theoretical fundamentals and empirical knowledge about the investigated problem. Finally, workshops make sense when used to directly support students in their work. Workshops must be arranged in a specific order, consistent with the process of problem solving.

What is expected role of tutors of students’ groups?

Intensive study programmes organised within the framework of the SPOT project allowed to better understand the efficient role of tutors in collaborative, problem-based, and place-based learning. The presence and support provided by tutors of student groups was crucial during study visits. Students expected support mostly when preparing for a meeting with the stakeholders of the research area, and when applying various methods to deliver assignment. The expected role of tutors is to support and stimulate students in their work, but without imposing their own ideas and criticizing students’ thinking.

Is involvement of stakeholders of the research area important?

Definitely yes, the involvement of stakeholders was very motivational for students. They realized that when solving an existing, real problem, the results of their work could contribute to local communities, and support particular people. The biggest challenge for students is to share negative opinions about the activities of particular stakeholders when presenting diagnosis and strategy for future actions.

Further reading:

Lesson from Italian local seminar – Turin, September 23, 2022

See the summary of SPOT project’s contribution presented during Italian local seminar. On September 23, 2022, students participating in the SPOT project’s study visit to Italy had an outstanding opportunity to share their achievements with stakeholders of tourism development in the region we investigated – Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.

We agreed during Italian local seminar that the sustainable tourism is not a goal, it is a way we can achieve other goals like protection of environment, equity, economic development (not a growth), social inclusion, and diversity.

Students’ reports presented during Italian local seminar

Meet the locals involved in a discussion

Claudio Boasso is the President of Serralunga d’Alba Proloco. Proloco is municipal’s spin-off responsible for local development, including tourism. One of the recent concerns of this agent, especially in the recent years when the tourism fluxes have been increasing incrementally, is to make tourism development more sustainable.

Aldo Buzio is project manager of IdeAzione consultancy company, contribute to orient the development of tourism activities in the area by offering services for local spatial planning. The company is cooperating with LINKS Foundation. For now, the focus of the company is to deliver tourism strategies for both cities and regions.

Giulia Caffaro is co-founder and project manager of Dimora Design Farm finalized to enhance and regenerate boroughs and small realities through immersive spaces sustainable tourism experiences addressing local development, cultural sharing and social inclusion.

Giulia Cerrato is member of the Association Fuori Via that has the objective of promoting the culture of walking, slow travel in all facets, as well as sustainable tourism practices through study and research activities, cultural and artistic design and promotion.

Giulio Mondini is Chairman of the UNESCO Chair “New paradigms and instruments for bio-cultural landscape management” established at LINKS Foundation and the Scuola di Specializzazione Beni Architettonici e del Paesaggio of Politecnico di Torino. He is Full Professor of Economic Appraisal and Planning Evaluation at DIST Dipartment of Politecnico di Torino. He coordinates numerous researches on various topics such as city and territory, environment and landscape, innovation and development, architecture and heritage, infrastructure and transportation, integrated systems for security.

Sergio Moscone is Major of the Serralunga d’Alba.

Enrico Rivella is a specialist of the Institute of Agricultural Food Market Service for National Rural Network (ISMEA RRN) with expertise on the topic of sustainable tourism development in rural landscapes, with particular attention on landscape and environmental values.

Enrico Rivetto is a local owner of vineyard Rivetto, understanding his role through a rather innovative approach.

Silvia Soldano represents LINKS Foundation and was part of the technical advisory team preparing the application of the case study area to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Marco Valle is a project manager in LINKS Foundation responsible for cultural heritage and regional-urban development.

Outstanding week in Italy. See the story map

Let’s go back to the outstanding week in Italy. See and enjoy the story map prepared by Marta Nalej from the University of Lodz.

The goal of the study visit in Turin (Italy) was to involve students in designing a spatial development strategy aiming at the sustainable territorial development of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato wine region.

The study visit to Italy was organized by the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST). Researchers from Italian team conducted an initial enquiry on spatial planning challenges and opportunities of tourism development in Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, in Piedmont. Students were requested to prepare stakeholders analysis, SWOT analysis, and actionable policy recommendations, and present the results during local seminar organised on the last day of our stay in Turin.

The study visit to Italy was organized in the period between 19-23 of September, 2022. This story map presents this outstanding week in Italy day by day.

Programme of ITC2022. International Tourism Congress

See the programme of ITC2022. International Tourism Congress ‘Tourism – Going Back/Forward to Sustainability’. If needed, you can download the programme as a PDF file. Mind that all hours are in Central European Time (CET). If interested in details of the presentations proposed, see the book of abstracts.

International Tourism Congress 2022 is organized by the Faculty of Geographical Sciences, University of Lodz (Poland) in cooperation with CiTUR Centre for Tourism Research, Development and Innovation. ITC2022 is also final event disseminating achievements of the SPOT project. ITC2022 will be held on November, (16)17-19 2022 in Lodz, the city located in the very heart of Poland. Participants of ITC2022 will be hosted in the Training and Conference Center of the University of Lodz (Kopcinskiego 16/18 Street, Lodz), and the Faculty of Geographical Sciences, at University of Lodz (Kopcinskiego 31 Street, Lodz).

The programme of ITC2022 refers to sustainability of tourism in general. We are going to discuss geographical, social, environmental, economic, political, and managerial contexts of sustainable tourism. The notion of tourism sustainability will be related to the concepts like quality of life, ecosystem services and resilience of ecosystem functions, development and economic growth, social and spatial justice as well as territorial cohesion, and – last but not least – coopetition and tourist packaging.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, Day 0

Mind that all hours are in Central European Time (CET).

Liszewski Hall

Straszewicz Hall

N105 Room

Front room

Mirror Room

T&C Centre

Thursday, November 17, 2022, Day 1

Mind that all hours are in Central European Time (CET).

Friday, November 18, 2022, Day 2

Mind that all hours are in Central European Time (CET).

Saturday, November 19, 2022, Day 3

On-site participants of ITC2022 are invited to join the trip to the Polish case study area of the SPOT Project. We are going to discuss the following topic in the field: Evolutionary changes of tourism in industrial area in transition – Challenges of introducing European Green Deal in Bełchatów industrial district. On Thursday, November 17, 2022, you will have a chance to listen about the case in during the SPOT special session. On Saturday, November 19, 2022, you will be able to experience it for yourself. The trip is organised by the Polish team of SPOT project and REGIO. Enjoy!

09:00 – 10:30Łódź – BełchatówBus transfer: Bus arrives from T&C Centre
10:30 – 11:30BełchatówCity witnessing radical industrialization: sightseeing
11:30 – 12:00Bełchatów – RudziskoBus transfer
12:00 – 13:30RudziskoLooking for local identity: Meeting with members of Pilsian Tribe Association; Lunch
13:30 – 14:00Rudzisko – ŻłobnicaBus transfer
14:00 – 14:30ŻłobnicaBełchatów energy complex: from radical industrialization to just transition
14:30 – 15:00Żłobnica – Kleszczów (Solpark) – Kamieńska MountainBus transfer
15:00 – 15:30Kamieńska MountainNew tourism infrastructure of Bełchatów industrial district
15:30 – 17:00Kamieńska Mountain – ŁódźBus transfer

Enhanced mobility for sustainable rural tourism_By Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero

Enhanced mobility for sustainable rural tourism_By Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero – see the challenge proposed by the Langhe Monferrato Roero Tourist Board.


The challenge is proposed by the Langhe Monferrato Roero Tourist Board. Langhe Monferrato Roero is a UNESCO Landscape Heritage area characterised by a peculiar vineyard landscapes. It is located between the provinces of Alessandria, Asti and Cuneo, and comprises 100 municipalities with an average population of a few hundred inhabitants. After the inclusion in the UNESCO List, the area has experienced a significant growth of tourists driven by the intention to experience Piedmont’s hilly vineyard landscape and its eno-gastronomic assets.

The growing impact of tourism contributed to the emergence of incremental awareness of the need for a higher sustainability, understood as the development of wine-related tourism activities that are compatible with the sustainable development of the territory. In this light, it is of strategic importance to identify alternative and sustainable mobility systems, capable of satisfying the need to experience the territory and its assets, while ensuring their preservation, sustainable development and fruition.


In recent years, the Langhe Monferrato Roero area has seen a sharp increase in the number of tourists, in most cases from abroad and with little capacity for independent mobility in the area. Hence the need to understand how to address innovation in tourist mobility, going beyond the private-car model. The limited availability of tourist-friendly transport in an area where inhabitants and tourists travel by their own means due to the scarcity of an adequate public transport system constitutes a serious challenge. The impact of private motorised means of transport on an area that is unique in the world and needs to be preserved and developed sustainably is indeed a challenge, that needs to be weighted vis-à-vis tourists’ mobility needs and the quality of their experience.

Acknowledging the above, the proposed challenge concerns the design of sustainable transport models in rural areas with diffuse anthropisation. The teams will investigate, devise and design sustainable transport models and solutions suited to the needs of tourists and the territory.

Langhe-Roero and Monferrato for sustainable tourism – Locals talking

On Tuesday, September the 20th, 2022, students and researchers from the SPOT project had the opportunity to participate in a session called ‘Locals talking’ organized by the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning of Politecnico di Torino. The session took place in Serralunga d’Alba, and was moderated by Prof. Giancarlo Cotella. In this occasion, they have been discussing the challenges and opportunities for a more sustainable development of tourism activities in the area Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.

The following stakeholders participated in a session: Aldo Buzio (Ideazione Srl), Claudio Boasso (President of Pro Loco Association of Serralunga d’Alba), Dr. Sergio Moscone (Major of the Serralunga d’Alba Municipality), Enrico Rivella (ISMEA RRN), Enrico Rivetto (Wine producer), and Silvia Soldano (LINKS Foundation).

We were introduced to the area by the President of Serralunga d’Alba Pro Loco Claudio Boasso. Pro Loco is municipal’s spin-off responsible for local development, including tourism. One of the recent concerns of this agent, especially in the recent years when the tourism fluxes have been increasing incrementally, is to make tourism development more sustainable.

Tourism and enogastronomy are the basis for economy of the area. For example, in Serralunga d’Alba, a town inhabited by approximately 500 people, are located as many as 30 wine cellars, and another 50 wine enterprises have acquired vineyards on the territory of the municipality. During last years, tourism has not only increased, but it has significantly changed. This is the result of wine tourism development supported by investments in the development of activities that runs in parallel to the latter, as well as to alternative transportation facilities to better link and interconnect the area. Buying vine is no longer the only purpose of visiting the area, and the region is no longer targeting only one-day visitors. Foreign tourists are hosted mostly during summer for longer stays, Italians are accommodated here mostly during weekends. Autumn is the period preferred by tourist interested in enogastronomy. It is worth to mention that, in the same days as our study visit, the case study area of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato is hosting the UNWTO global conference on enogastronomy tourism.

The meeting with local actors started with the welcome speech by Dr. Sergio Moscone, Major of the Serralunga d’Alba. Then, all local stakeholders had a chance to present themselves and their view on the challenges that prevent a more sustainable development of tourism activities in the case study area. After a first roundtable, the speakers were interacting the researchers and students from the SPOT team, answering their questions and further elaborating their thoughts.

Silvia Soldano represents LINKS Foundation and was part of the technical advisory team preparing the application of the case study area to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. She argued that during the application stage, the knowledge about the local exceptional identity and heritage was taken directly from the local stakeholders. She explained that the assessment of the tourism carry capacity is one of the activities recommended by the UNESCO. Thanks to the analysis done, we know that the local inhabitants do not aim to mass tourism, as wouldn’t feel comfortable with shuttle busses bring hordes of tourists to the area. They are rather interested in a more diffuse and sustainable tourism, that spread around the area in a softer way.

In a further discussion it was explained that tour operators organize in the region of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato educational tours mainly. The main target are schools rather than other groups. The reason that other markets are not considered is that mass tourism is seen as unsustainable. Thanks to the work of a destination management organization (DMO), the shift from big international groups towards family tourism has already happened. We were explained that in Italy, DMOs are private institutions owned by tourism enterprises and actors. However, the DMOs operate on a regional level. At the local level, responsibilities of DMO are covered by Pro Loco. However, tourism is not the only focus of this type of agency.

Enrico Rivetto is a local owner of vineyard, understanding his role through a rather innovative approach. When the case study area became very popular, he realized that ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ are just empty words. According to his perspective, before talking about tourism and sustainability, we should ask ourselves what can we do individually to change the status quo. “How I can change my vinery” was the very first question that Enrico Rivetto asked himself. He believes that changing our small worlds can make the whole world better. “We are what we do!”. He argued that the revolution which is expected in terms of environmental issues is rather going to occur as the sum of individual decision, than as the consequence of a collective effort piloted from the top down. However, local aggregation of like-minded individuals from the bottom-up is crucial to upscale the result of their action-

Aldo Buzio, the project managet of Ideazione consultancy company, contribute to orient the development of tourism activities in the area by offering services for local spatial planning. The company is cooperating with already mentioned LINKS Foundation. For now, the focus of the company is to deliver tourism strategies for both cities and regions. Shift from broad holistic strategy of development to creation of tourism oriented plans and projects is the general idea of planning supported by the company.

Enrico Rivella work is to make agricultural activities more sustainable, mainly in terms of environmental sustainability. Sustainability of cultivation is one of the issues important from the perspective of the case study area of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato. Cultivation of grapes contributes to the cultural landscape protection. However, excessive increase of cultivation results in some risks affecting the traditional landscape, e.g. deforestation and soil erosion. The situation of the soil is getting worse, due to both excessive cultivation and climate change. “Respect the land!” Enrico Rivella said. The experience of food and vine is place-embedded, and comes from a thorough understanding of local environmental conditions and traditions. There is no outstanding tourism experience with no sustainability. The cultural landscape is a significant asset for tourism development and, as such, its quality must be preserved.

The President of the Pro Loco Claudio Boasso is also the owner of vineyard. He argued that sustainability is an impellent problem of the area. There are a lot of anticipatory experiences towards a more sustainable production of wine that should be confronted and then combined. Synergizing and integration of various local actions is the main goal of the Pro Loco agency. It started in late 1970’s when trying to apply integrated approach when selling vine on international markets. And is now focusing on the promotion of an integrated tourist offer. “Were to go”, and “what to do” are the main questions asked by tourist to the Pro Loco agency. In this light, to link and jointly promote all the activities and assets that the territory offer is becoming a more and more central aim.

Potential clashes between tourism, local development and landscape protection were discussed. However, the excessive concentration of tourism in particular places and times is neither evidenced nowadays, nor expected in the future. On the other hand, local actors argued that any development of the infrastructure aimed at increasing tourism accessibility should be developed keeping in mind the preservation of environmental and landscape values.

Broad understanding of the local reality and its many challenges is a must. It is not possible to solve them from a narrow perspective. Biodynamic agriculture is to rebuild an efficient and balanced agriculture organism. Financial resources are a very serious problem as well. If the land is extremely expensive, it is not easy to motivate farmers to differentiate the production, and to divide the area of cultivation into many different species, which is the foundation of biodynamic farming. However, biodynamic farming is against mainstream economy. Thus, with no change of the development paradigm, it would be difficult to change anything inside the economic system. A similar balance should be achieved when talking about tourism.

From the perspective of mayor, to improve the present situation is a rather complex task, that should be tackled through multiple, parallel perspectives. Care of inhabitants and their needs, care of agriculture, and care of cultural landscape which is already appreciated by the UNESCO are the most important concerns of the area. Cultural activities are unfortunately developed for tourists, with limited focus on locals. So, cultural tourism has a significant potential. However, participants of the session complained that this kind of offer could be more oriented on inhabitants of the area.

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