[MEDUSA sister projects] MED PEARLS
This article forms part of a series of publications under MEDUSA project, where we present projects related to ours around the Mediterranean (“sister projects”). We always aim to join forces, find synergies and make a change all together!
The series of Medusa sister project presentations goes on… This time we are proud to present you Med Pearls project, another ENI CBC MED-funded initiative under the priority sustainable tourism. Coordinated by the Catalan Tourist Board, the project will be implemented in Spain, Italy, Greece, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt and runs on a budget of 3 Million €, out of which the programme co-finances 90%.
Have you ever returned from vacation and felt that you needed another week to recover from the holiday stress? And after all you asked yourself what you have even taken back home from the place you visited? Or what do you know about it other than the few facts you read through in our Lonely Planet on your outward flight? Did you really get to know the place, its people, its traditions and its most beautiful cultural and natural heritage in an extensive way? Or did you rather rush through a tough travel programme ticking the boxes of sights or spots you had to visit, dishes you absolutely needed to try in the number-one rated restaurant on TripAdvisor and the one must-have souvenir you could not miss to buy, just so you could carry a good memory about your trip?
Well, if the latter is the case, but after a minute of reflection you got aware that what you actually wish for is a profound and stress-free holiday experience… well then, you might want to try some slow tourism for the next time.
What is slow tourism?
Slow tourism is exploring and engaging with the place you visit. It is travelling at a slower pace but immersing into the culture and nature of your destination, connecting to its people and its traditions to make a meaningful experience out of your holidays. It is quality vacation from which you come home, feel relaxed and can draw back on a profound and enjoyable memory of landscapes, conversations, tastes and other emotions.
Having said that, it becomes almost evident that slow tourism is the natural ally of adventure tourism, MEDUSA’s main field of activity. Both types of tourism are very much focused on achieving meaningful vacation experiences for visitors making them explore the place they visit and all it has to offer at its best, while respecting the environment and local community.
What is clear as well is that the Mediterranean, rich in cultural and natural resources as it is, is a perfect destination to develop and promote both slow and adventure tourism and thereby achieve an overall more sustainable form of tourism.
And this is exactly where Med Pearls project kicks in: As cross-border project it aims to internationally position the Mediterranean as an integral destination of quality and excellence for slow tourism.
How does Med Pearls support this mission?
Med Pearls builds upon a collaborative approach in between public and private actors to accelerate innovative initiatives and support the creation of new tourism products. Working directly with local communities and companies it builds up their capacity for sustainable destination management through training sessions and other supportive measures to a bottom-up community development. Taking it from there, the project will provide 26 sub-grants of up to 20.000€ each to financially support the development of new slow tourism products. Furthermore, it will award 6 grants of up to 50.000 € each to finance cutting-edge ICT solutions to be integrated into those slow tourism products. This might include mobile apps, virtual reality applications or games, which add to the touristic experience and can support the transmission of culture and nature to visitors in a playful and innovative way.
This newly created experiences, the so-called Med Pearls – gifts from nature and culture, that with some “polish” provided by the project will be revealed as real tourism treasures – in a further step will be commercialised targeting both local and international markets.
How do MEDUSA and Med Pearls projects collaborate in this endeavour?
MEDUSA and Med Pearls projects in many aspects share their objectives and approach to reach them. Both projects aim for a deseasonalisation of the tourism sector, where both slow and adventure tourism activities can play a decisive role. Due to the exceptional weather conditions in the Mediterranean area, they can be practiced almost all year round. To shave visitor peaks, tourist destinations moreover need to be able to provide and market touristic offers in shoulder seasons. To this end, Med Pearls and MEDUSA work alongside to diversify the offer and enhance new segments and niches that valorise the rich existing cultural and natural heritage in the area. And also in a third point, both projects pull into the same direction: they recognise that the local economic development needs to be at the core of the whole process and the main beneficiaries of tourism income need to be the local communities.
To take the right decisions into this direction, the projects closely collaborate, exchange knowledge and coordinate their activities. Going through the initial project phases at the moment, they are closely analysing the territories of intervention same as the source markets, to later, under the call for proposals for sub-grants set forth a product development strategy which makes the most of the territories’ possibilities and corresponds to international client’s demands.