The Ministry for Gozo is participating in an EU-funded project which aims at helping regional authorities across Europe to develop policies which promote the further development of the eco-accommodation sector and the attractiveness of rural territories for tourism purposes.
This project, entitled "Innovative concept of eco-accommodation approach in rural regions: Public support policies for eco-investors" (Acronym: ICER) is financed under the INTERREG IVC Programme which forms part of the European Regional Development Fund for a total funding of 1.4 million Euro. The project partnership is composed of rural authorities from France, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, Hungary, Ireland and Malta.
Among others, the project will seek to analyse tourism development strategies for these regions, concrete policies for sustainable development, labelling policies, marketing tools, best practices in each region, and public policy support to private investment.
Tourism is an essential part of the econony of rural communities. It has the capacity to create considerable employment in these areas. This potential is particularly important given the decrease in the numbers employed in the agricultural sector. In addition, because of their nature, the jobs created in local tourism projects are not likely to relocate to other areas.
Although the leaders of public authorities have understood tourisms importance, and public policies have acknowledged the role of tourism promotion, the level of direct public sector funding given to the sector is less organised and falls short of what is required.
The reality is that tourism spend in rural areas is lower than in other areas As a consequence, its more difficult for tourism promoters to make a profit on their investment in rural locations than in other city or coastal locations. This makes it more difficult to attract new investors or project creators to rural locations. All of this means that there are fewer tourism ventures in rural areas than on the coast or in a city.
This less than satisfactory situation pertains at a time, ironically, when visitor demand for rural tourism products and packages is growing significantly. Tourists interested in rural tourism are also seeking higher standards of accommodation and in how the environment is taken care of in terms of quality of buildings, energy management and services.
Its important that local authorities do not miss this opportunity to capitalise on the great potential that exists in rural tourism. They need to develop and deliver ambitious public policies for the sector policies that are geared to meet the needs of investors. In particular, the right supports must be given for the provision of quality tourist accommodation, which is at the heart of growing the industry.
The future of rural European territories can be safeguarded if their communities can organise themselves to attract investors and meet the increasing demand from tourists for rural-based leisure holidays. Of course, this drive to grow the sector will have to respect the intrinsic values of each territory, and all policies and supports must be based on achieving sustainable development. The whole ICER project is based on this underlying principle.
This project aims to establish recommendations for rural tourism public sector policy and support in terms of technical, financial and legal aspects. It also sets out to develop guidelines for investors within the framework of sustainable development programmes. The projects findings will be based on the exchange of practical experiences and activities in each partner region.
The project is of great importance for three reasons:
- It aims to influence public policies in terms of support provided for tourist project promoters
- It sets out to make rural regions attractive to investors
- It intends to equip tourism development agencies with practical tools to help them bring added-value to the rural tourism enterprises in their areas
The objectives of the ICER Project are in line with the overall European development policy for rural territories, which respects the three spheres of sustainable development, i.e. the economic, environmental and social aspects. The Project aims to apply these principles in a practical manner through local policies for rural tourism accommodation.
1 January 2010 31 December 2012
Total project budget: E1.799.250,00
Total ERDF support: E1.410.572,50
Conference held in Gozo on the 7th of February 2012, please click here for more information.
Conference held in Gozo on the 24th of May 2012, please click here for more information.
Conference held in Gozo on the 23 of September 2010, please click here for more information.
First brochure of the project ICER Innovative Concept of Eco-Accommodation Approach in Rural Regions: Public Support Policies to Eco-Investors. Download
Closing brochure of the project ICER Innovative Concept of Eco-Accommodation Approach in Rural Regions: Public Support Policies to Eco-Investors. Download
Would you like more information and printed material regarding the ICER project, do please contact us.