ECOTOURS “Empowering local communities turning them into laboratories for co-development of circular and sustainable tourism ecosystems” is a project co-funded by the European Commission under the Single Market Programme (SMP SMP/SME Pillar) with agreement no. 101085853. The project involves the provision of direct services and financial support to SMEs, selected by ECOTOURS partners, with the aim of promoting the adoption of sustainable development best practices and transforming marginal areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic into circular, green, and sustainable tourist destinations. The project targets SMEs and local communities in Italy, Greece, France, Hungary, Spain, and Cyprus, focusing on their natural and cultural heritage of international significance. These communities are facing new common socio-economic challenges due to the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
ECOTOURS strengthens the capacity of tourism SMEs and community tourism ecosystems to promote circular tourism and adopt environmental principles, practices, and standards in their activities and daily operations. Overall, the project contributes to transforming marginal coastal and rural areas, which are experiencing an economic slowdown, into circular, green, and sustainable tourist destinations offering meaningful travel experiences based on interaction between people, holistic discovery of the territory, its natural environment, its biodiversity, its cultural and traditional heritage, while also promoting principles and practices of sustainability, encouraging environmental protection, waste reduction, and the reduction of natural resource consumption (energy, water, soil, biodiversity), the use of clean energy and eco-friendly transportation, recycling and reuse of materials/products, promotion of local food and craft productions, and much more.
The ECOTOURS partnership consists of 7 organizations from 6 EU countries:
The main objectives of ECOTOURS are:
- Increase the sustainability, competitiveness, and economic regeneration of rural destinations in Europe through circular tourism.
- Increase the capacity of tourism SMEs and community ecosystems in the EU to incorporate and promote sustainable strategies and practices on circular tourism.
- Boost the transition process of tourism SMEs by increasing their ability to adopt and incorporate sustainable and circular principles and standards.
The call is aimed at SMEs wishing to improve ecotourism services and co-develop new circular and sustainable tourist routes by participating in 5 activities:
Activity 1 – 80 hours of consultancy and mentoring for the development of circular and sustainable tourism business models;
Activity 2 – Consultancy and acquisition of a sustainability certification for businesses;
Activity 3 – Participation in a transnational study visit experience;
Activity 4 – Support in creating a circular ecotourism route;
Activity 5 – Participation in a competition on innovation in the tourism sector.
Who can participate: SMEs belonging to the following categories and/or NACE codes (see NACE Revision 2) can apply:
I5510 – Hotels and similar accommodations,
I5520 – Holiday and short-stay accommodations,
I5530 – Campsites, recreational vehicle parks, and trailer parks,
I5610 – Restaurants and mobile food service activities,
N79 – Travel agencies, tour operators, and related booking services,
N7721 – Rental and leasing of recreational and sports goods,
R90 – Creative, arts and entertainment activities demonstrating or aiming at innovation in tourism,
R91 – Libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural activities,
R93 – Sports, entertainment and recreation activities,
other SMEs from NACE code A – Agriculture, forestry and fishing that demonstrate or aim for innovation in tourism.
Deadline for submission of applications: Thursday, August 10, 2023, at 5:00 PM.