Santander: Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism as Key Contributors to Local and Regional Development

The first external meeting of the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) of the EU’s Committee of the Regions took place on 30 April 2015 in Santander (Spain) at the invitation of Cristina Mazas Pérez-Oleaga, Minister for Economy of the Cantabria Region (Spain). SEDEC Members, policy makers at different levels of governance (local, regional, national and European), cultural heritage organisations and academia discussed ways to promote ‘Cultural heritage and sustainable tourism as key contributors to local and regional development’.

Reasserting the important contribution of cultural heritage to the tourism industry in Europe in terms of economic growth, job creation and regional development, participants underlined the still undervalued role of cultural heritage in Europe and called for a European Year of Cultural Heritage as a means to “further reap the benefits of Europe’s cultural resources”, as SEDEC Chair Yoomi Renström(Sweden) explicitly said in her intervention.

Europa Nostra’s Council member José María Ballester was invited as a guest speaker to close the first session dedicated to ‘Cultural heritage source and resource’. In his presentation, he put the accent on a particularly timely issue, that of the link between territory on the one hand and cultural and natural heritage on the other, thus underlining the key notion of cultural landscape. He also stressed “the increasing role of cultural heritage, in its broad sense, in the new societal model emerging from the wide ranging social changes we are experiencing”.

The conference follows on from the adoption on 16 April 2015 of the Committee of the Regions Opinion to the Commission’s Communication that paves the way for “an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe”.

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