Since cultural richness of the Central Europe area is very high, cultural tourism is one of the main pillars in the economic development of many cities and towns. However this richness can produce negative effects, as well known touristic sites are overcrowded, while other important sites near to these cultural centres are poorly visited by the main tourism flows.
This has also a negative effect on cohesion policy, since the current trends prevent the creation of several new jobs in the neglected cultural sites, while they increase pollution in large cities. CUSTODES intends to address these topics, focusing on less known cultural sites, enhancing their potential as sustainable tourism destinations and promoting the socio-economic development of these areas.
As a follow-up project of the INTERREG IIIC project ROMIT the aim of was to find new ways of preservation, valorisation and management of Roman heritage CUSTODES project intends to increase the economic value of relevant cultural sites (archaeological areas, but also historical castles, landscapes, spas...), enhancing their potential as sustainable tourism destinations and promoting the socio-economic development of surrounding areas.
In particular the project focuses on the development of tourist products specifically created for cultural sites in small centres, usually excluded from main tourism flows. Thereby the promotion of touristic sites is interconnected with the creation of new sustainable tourism infrastructures at local level, benefitting from the proximity of a well known tourism destination not too far from the cultural site.
In this matter it is important to find a European strategy in order to transfer knowledge, practices, experiences, skills and products on a wider dimension. CUSTODES aims to establish models and tools which can be well transferred in other European areas with similar characteristics.
The Custodes project started its activities with the kick off meeting in Prague in February 2009, then six transregional meetings were held: in Torun (Poland), June 2009; in Velenje (Slovenia), November 2009; in Rimini (Italy), May 2010; in Torun, September 2010; in Velenje, March 2011; in Rimini, October 2011. The website has been implemented and updated during the project at the address: www.custodes-project.net. The website is multilingual and includes versions in English, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Czech. An inventory of the country cultural sites with specific analysis of the pilot areas is available on the web site of the project, providing recommendations for the sites valorisation, updated and enriched during the project. A set of seminars was organised in all the partner regions to present such pilot areas to the stakeholders, discussing about possible initiatives inside the pilot areas. A set of recommendations including the identified pilot areas was finalised. A common methodology and set of models were designed, to be used by the partnership for promotion and training. The "Diffused Hotel" is a model for the organisation of tourism services managed by the local population. The "Analysis on territories vocations and attracting tourism" aims at improving local tourism. The "Model for exploiting local handcrafts and traditions" intends to survey local handcrafts, food and traditions belonging to the partner destinations to promote local tourism. The "Model and Strategies to increase sustainability to selected cultural areas", including the "adoption of eco-labels", made a territory analysis on Sustainable Development tourism. The "Model for developing accessibility to cultural areas" made a deep analysis of the measures and strategies to undertake to increase accessibility. The "Joint marketing strategy for the use of ICT" was developed and a set of four tourism concepts was created. In Moravia a Training workshop for tourism experts was held in March 2010, to involve local relevant stakeholders. The Transnational Action Plan was elaborated, to design the methodology to coordinate the testing phase at transnational level, valorising places, traditions and less known tourism areas. In Rimini the design of the Fantastic Castle Route network was carried out. In Kujawsko Pomorskie tourist products commercialization, creation of tour operators, marketing strategy were developed implementing the Frederic Chopin route and the pilot action in Kaldus settlement. In Moravia the pilot product “Let´s travel in time” with Slavic Settlement in Mikulčice, Open-Air Museum in Strážnice, community centre in Milotice, chateau Milotice and The Regional Centre in Hodonín. In Slovenia the exploitation of “valley of castles” and exploitation of Ekenštajn castle ruins was finalised, and a promotional video developed.