Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit” presented in Brussels

Reconciling tourism and cultural heritage has been high on Europa Nostra’s agenda for the last two years. Together with key members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 – an informal platform of now 49 European networks active in the field of cultural heritage – Europa Nostra has contributed to the sustainable tourism dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH). One of the key outcomes of these efforts is the Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit”, which was initiated by the Network of European Regions for a Sustainable and Competitive Tourism (NECSTouR) as a contribution to a lasting legacy of the EYCH.

The declaration was officially presented at the thematic conference “Local-led initiatives on tourism and cultural heritage: a legacy for Europe” on 11 October in Brussels, organised in the margins of NECSTouR’s general assembly and hosted by the Fundación Galicia Europa. The conference provided an opportunity to showcase existing good practices and to foster the debate on how cultural heritage and tourism initiatives can benefit residents and citizens as well as on how tourism can contribute to safeguarding and enhancing cultural heritage.

Europa Nostra’s Vice-President Piet Jaspaert, who has been leading the NGO’s efforts in reconciling tourism and heritage, contributed to the panel on the Declaration as a legacy for Europe together with Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission (ETC), and Manos Vougioukas, Secretary General of the European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN). The panel discussion was moderated by Patrick Torrent, President of NECSTouR. Europa Nostra’s Vice-President applauded the fruitful cooperation between the four networks and their notable contribution to the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

In a second panel, representatives from EU institutions exchanged views on the declaration: Francisco José Millán Mon, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of the Intergroup “European Tourism Development, Cultural Heritage, Ways of Saint James and other European Cultural Routes”, Anne Grady, Policy Officer at the European Commission and Christof Kienel, Head of Unit NAT Commission at the European Committee of the Regions.

The Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit” proposes a set of principles which should be applied jointly for a responsible balance between the use of cultural heritage, the demands of the tourism industry and the needs of the local community:

  1. Smart and inclusive governance
  2. Adding value to the sense of place
  3. Using a holistic vision for marketing and preservation
  4. Balancing place, people and business
  5. Connecting people to people.

In its annex, the declaration also refers to key policy documents and existing declarations on heritage or tourism or both.

Everyone who wishes to express their support can sign the Declaration online. All partners from the tourism and heritage field are also invited to signal best practices that illustrate the five principles of the declaration to NECSTouR for inclusion on the website.

Background information

The four networks had already contributed to the drafting process of the Declaration at a workshop organised by NECSTouR in April 2018 (see Europa Nostra’s presentation) and further discussed the draft Declaration at a workshop organised by ETC on the contribution of tourism promotion to cultural heritage during the European Cultural Heritage Summit in June 2018. Several members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 also provided concrete input and comments in the drafting process, leading in particular to a strengthened focus on the interpretative dimension in the Declaration.

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