This chapter presents the analysis of the projects:

Firstly, there is an overview and description of the nine rural development projects. More details on the projects can be found in the annexes.

Then, the analysis lays out the common issues, solutions and challenges in the projects and addresses the following questions:

  • What are the thematic areas of the projects?
  • How do the projects relate to economic drivers and barriers evoked in EU literature on rural development?
  • What is the dominant strategic focus (is it defensive or offensive)?
  • What are the results of the projects (how effective are they) and (under which conditions) can they be transferred?
  • How innovative are the projects? The analysis looks at nine good practices

3.1 Overview of the INTERREG IVC rural development projects

Among the 204 INTERREG IVC projects, there are nine with a clear rural development focus. Results are not yet available for the five of the nine projects that were started in 2012. Three projects were completed in 2012 (B2N, RURALAND and ICER) and Robinwood Plus will end in 2013. The table below summarises the topics of the projects. Further information on the objectives, activities, partners, budget, website, duration, etc. can be found in Annexe 3.

  • Table 3.1 Overview of the nine INTERREG IVC projects on rural development
    • Project


      Full title (underlined) and objective of the project



      Business to Nature - Interregional Approach to SMEs and Entrepreneurship Policies in Natural Areas: To improve the effectiveness of regional development policies related to entrepreneurship and SME development. The focus is on SMEs that benefit from/depend upon the region’s natural attractiveness and have a particular potential for developing tourism-related economic activities by assisting them to develop and grow in a more innovative and sustainable way.



      Rural Development Players: To reinforce the efficacy and innovation of regional rural development policies aimed at economic diversification in rural areas in four thematic areas: investments, renewable energy, cultural & natural heritage, employment.



      Innovative Concept of Eco-accommodation approach in rural Regions: To influence public policies aimed at supporting tourist project promoters and to make rural regions attractive to investors

      Robinwood Plus


      Apply participatory forest planning for sustainability (mini programme): To promote the multifunctional role of forests as a driving force for economic development, environment protection and quality of life improvement in rural areas, in accordance with the EU forest action plan and sustainability policies.



      Digital Agenda for New Tourism Approach in European Rural and Mountain Areas: To ensure better integration of the ICT agenda into tourism policies dealing with mountainous and rural areas or Europe.



      Cultural Routes Entrepreneurship and Technologies Enhancement: To improve public policies aimed at promoting the competitiveness of business activities in rural areas, especially service-oriented companies along tourism routes (development of e-skills among tourism-related SME).

      GRISI Plus


      Geomatics Rural Information Society Initiative: To improve the effectiveness, to modernize and enhance public rural development policies in partner regions by increasing the use of geographical information and geomatics tools by creating geoportals for villages seeking to attract new inhabitants and businesses. These portals can provide information about regional practices aimed at welcoming newcomers, opportunities and can be used to promote local tangible and intangible goods on the internet.



      Cooperatives of Employment and Services in Rural areas (for the elderly & tourism): To identify and transfer public policies or instruments designed to create, reinforce and safeguard employment opportunities in the services sector in rural areas by identifying: 1) effective public strategies for sustainable jobs in the field of home care services, 2) policies that encourage the creation of services in the rural tourism sector, 3) instruments designed to create a link between home care services and tourism services.



      Smart Work Centres in Non-Metropolitan areas: To improve the effectiveness of local and regional policies and instruments for the stimulation of growth and employment in non-metropolitan areas. This is achieved by improving the knowledge and strategies of local and regional governments on how to implement Smart Work Centres to 1) increase the possibilities and incentives for telework, 2) support entrepreneurship and 3) deliver public services.

      Source: Application forms and websites of the INTERREG IVC projects

3.2 Common issues, solutions, challenges identified within INTERREG IVC Rural projects

The analysis of the common issues and challenges identified within INTERREG IVC rural development projects was carried out by:

  • Looking at the thematic focus. What is the main topic of the rural development projects? And how do they inter-relate with INTERREG IVC objectives?
  • Studying the scope of the projects and their relevance with economic drivers and barriers evoked in EU literature on rural development. What are the main economic barriers and drivers in rural development being addressed by the IVC projects?
  • Looking in more detail at the strategy of the projects. Are they dominantly offensive (i.e. they enforce the advantages of rural areas and take advantage of new opportunities), defensive (i.e. they eliminate the disadvantages of the countryside and avoid the threats facing the region), or somewhere between the two?
  • Mapping the results of the projects (in terms of effectiveness) and describing under which conditions these results can be transferred to other regions;
  • Analysing the innovative aspects in the projects by focusing on nine good practices.
  • 3.2.1 What is the thematic focus of the INTERREG IVC Rural projects?
    • The INTERREG IVC Rural projects focus on three objectives, which are sub-objectives of the INTERREG IVC programme: 1) stimulating entrepreneurship and SMEs in rural areas, 2) stimulating the information society in rural areas, 3) stimulating employment, human capital and education (see figure below).

      Table 3.2 The nine rural development projects contribute to 3 sub-objectives of INTERREG IVC

       Table 3.2: Nine rural development projects
      Source: Ecorys/IDEA Consult based on information from INTERREG IVC

      Four projects aim to stimulate entrepreneurship and SMEs in several economic sectors in rural areas, some of them in tourism (B2N; ICER), others in sectors such as forestry (Robinwood Plus). In addition, the use of the ITCs to attract tourists, SMEs or new inhabitants to the area is the main thematic focus for three of the projects. Both CesR and Micropol have a focus on employment, human capital and education, their objective being to increase the appeal of rural areas for SMEs.

      Economic development sought through tourism in INTERREG IVC rural projects
      When analysing the projects in more detail, the following observations can be made:

      • Tourism (as a new economic driver) seems to be a dominant theme in most of the projects (6 of the 9);
      • The motivation behind all the projects is economic (growth and employment in rural areas), but always in relation with social or environmental objectives (i.e. sustainable development);
      • There is a focus in most projects on endogenous development (‘development driven from within the rural areas themselves’). The exogenous perspective and the relationship with surrounding urban areas, on the other hand, is less present in the projects, however it is present in ICER and GRISI+. This perspective can also be found in other INTERREG projects such as Periurban (peri-urban parks) and URMA (partnership urban-rural).
      • The accessibility of rural regions is not defined as being a problem of road infrastructure, but more in terms of internet and broadband connectivity.
  • 3.2.2 Do the INTERREG IVC projects contribute to addressing the key economic barriers & drivers for rural development?
    • Key economic drivers and barriers to rural development

      Alongside the thematic focus of the IVC programme, it is interesting to analyse how the IVC rural projects stimulate the key drivers of rural development or seek to tackle the main barriers to rural development.

      For many rural areas, employment in the agriculture, agri-food and tourism sectors may be essential in accounting for local economic performance. However, there are a number of other, ‘less tangible’ factors that influence the growth performance of rural areas. DG AGRI recently published a study on the key barriers and drivers for rural development in Europe, based on extensive research (Ecorys, 2010, Study on Employment, Growth and Innovation in Rural Areas - SEGIRA). 

      The key drivers that have the most positive effect on the development of rural areas are:

      D1. Natural resources and environmental quality: This is seen as the most important driver for economic development. Natural resources and a quality environment enable and attract tourism. Furthermore, natural resources provide the basis for industrial activity, ranging from water extraction and bottling to extractive industries (mining, stone quarrying) and commercial fishing.

      D2. Sectoral structure of economy (dominant services): ensuring the diversity of the rural economy is considered as the second most important driver for rural development. Many rural economies include a good range of sectors, with tourism, agriculture, food and drink not surprisingly being predominant for the most part, but with additional sectors in construction, energy and services all figuring as significant economic drivers in many regions.

      D3. Quality of life and cultural capital: The quality of life offered by rural areas and the cultural capital often associated with 'rural life' is a key attraction for adventurous entrepreneurs and industry, as well as a strong motivational factor for people who wish to stay in or are attracted to rural communities. (although in practice it attracts more retirees of non-economic ‘value’ than it does retain/attract younger people who can contribute to economic growth).

      D4. Infrastructure and accessibility (ICT and transport connectivity). Having good access through road, rail, airport, and ICT accessibility is a driver for attracting people.

      D5. Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity. Having the right people and entrepreneurial capacity in the region is a further driver for the development of rural areas.

      D6. Social and institutional capital, networks. Lastly, the availability of social and institutional capital and networks are considered as the last driver for the development of rural areas.

      The key drivers for employment and growth in rural economies considered as the most important are listed in the table below. All IVC rural development projects deal with drivers for rural economic development:

      • Four of the nine projects focus on improving environmental quality either through enhancing planning in forestry (Robinwood Plus), improving the rural tourism offer in a sustainable way (ICER), stimulating entrepreneurship in vulnerable areas (B2N) and stimulating natural and cultural heritage, e.g. thermal sources (RURALAND);

      • Several projects are working on better ICT-connections (mostly to attract tourists, new inhabitants and companies) or by stimulating entrepreneurial capacity (B2N, Robinwood Plus and CesR).

      • Transforming the rural economy into a more diversified economy is the explicit aim of RURALAND, but in fact, as most of the projects are linked to tourism, economic diversification is actually a predominant feature of most projects;

      • Finally, almost all the projects also promote more intensive interactions between the different stakeholders in the region. This has led to more ambitious action programmes (B2N), new product combinations (DANTE) and larger scale results (ICER).

      Table 3.3 Overview of which projects contribute to which key economic drivers
      Projects Contributing to the following drivers (D)


      Contributing to the following drivers (D)


      B2N contributes to D5 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity by stimulating entrepreneurship and contributes to D1 Natural resources & environmental quality, focusing on vulnerable areas. B2N also contributes to D6 Social and institutional capital, networks through the different action programmes.


      RURALAND contributes to D1 Natural resources & environmental quality, D2 Sectoral structure of economy and D5 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity as it stimulates the diversification of rural areas in a sustainable way.


      ICER contributes mostly to D1 Natural resources & environmental quality, D5 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks by providing instruments & innovative concepts for tourism services.

      Robinwood Plus

      Robinwood Plus contributes mostly to D1 Natural resources & environmental quality, D5 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity, D2 Sectoral structure of economy,  and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks through a more sustainable and multifunctional approach to forest management.


      DANTE contributes mostly to D3 Quality of life and cultural capital, D4 Infrastructure and accessibility, D2 Sectoral structure of economy and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks as it aims to stimulate ICT tools for tourism.


      e-CREATE contributes mostly to D4 Infrastructure and accessibility, D6 Social and institutional capital, networks and D2 Sectoral structure of economy by enabling tourism to make use of ICT tools

      GRISI Plus

      GRISI+ contributes mostly to D3 Quality of life and cultural capital and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks as it stimulates the use of GIS in rural areas.


      CesR contributes mostly to D5 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks as it focuses on stimulating entrepreneurial tourism capacity and creating self-accommodation service networks.


      Micropol contributes mostly to D4 Infrastructure and accessibility, D2 Human capital, (entrepreneurial) capacity and D6 Social and institutional capital, networks as it stimulates the use of Smart Work Centres.

      Source: Ecorys/IDEA Consult (economic drivers from the SEGIRA study for DG AGRI, Ecorys,2010)

      Although there are more key barriers that could be mentioned, the following are the most important ones identified in the SEGIRA study:

      B1. Demographic change and migration. The flight of young people and an ageing population is a major and the most important obstacle for the development of the rural areas.

      B2. Infrastructure and accessibility (poor ICT and transport connectivity). A lack of infrastructure and accessibility is the second most important barrier to growth, both in terms of accessing markets and in terms of being accessible for employment. Moreover, the relative slow speeds of broadband can be an obstacle for development.

      B3. Sectoral structure of economy (dominant agriculture). The third most important barrier is the relatively slow pace of change in rural economies and is being exasperated by the lack and loss of skilled workers.

      All the IVC rural development projects aim to reduce the effect of barriers to economic development in rural areas.

      The relatively narrow sectoral structure of the economy for many regions illustrates the fragility of regional economies, which are often susceptible to economic and political change. For remote regions located far from urban centres, the inadequate communications infrastructure and accessibility continue to hinder economic progress. This is especially addressed by B2N and CesR, which aim at promoting entrepreneurial tourism and balancing economic development with environmental protection with the purpose of overcoming the accessibility barrier; Micropol, which is developing smart work centres; RURALAND, which improves services and DANTE, which focuses on improving the ICT in the tourism sector with the purpose of overcoming the accessibility barrier.

      Table 3.4 Overview of which projects contribute to which key economic barriers


      Deals with the following barriers (B)


      B2N deals mostly with B3 Sectoral structure of economy by COM(2010) 743 final entrepreneurial tourism and balancing economic development with environmental protection to overcome the barrier of an under diversified economy.


      RURALAND contributes to B1 Demographic evolutions and migration, B2 Infrastructure and accessibility and B3 Sectoral structure of economy - it aims to remove the barriers of migration, lack of accessibility and to stimulate the diversification of the rural economy in a sustainable way.


      ICER contributes mostly to B3 Sectoral structure of economy - it provides instruments & innovative concepts for tourism services.

      Robinwood Plus

      Robinwood Plus contributes mostly to B3 Sectoral structure of economy through a more sustainable and multifunctional approach to forest management.


      DANTE contributes mostly to B2 Infrastructure and accessibility and B3 Sectoral structure of economy - it aims to stimulate ICT tools for tourism.


      e-CREATE contributes mostly to B2 Infrastructure and accessibility and B3 Sectoral structure of economy by enabling tourism to make use of ICT tools.

      GRISI Plus

      GRISI+ contributes mostly to B1 Demographic evolutions and migration - it focuses on attracting new inhabitants through the use of GIS in rural areas.


      CesR contributes mostly to B3 Sectoral structure of economy - it focuses on stimulating entrepreneurial tourism capacity


      Micropol contributes mostly to B1 Demographic evolutions and migration and B2 Infrastructure and accessibility - it stimulates the use of Smart Work Centres, thereby facilitating accessibility and preventing emigration.

      Source: Ecorys/IDEA Consult (barriers from the SEGIRA study for DG AGRI, Ecorys, 2010)

      Based on this overview, it can be concluded that the project objectives are clearly coherent with the findings of studies on economic drivers and barriers to rural development. It is interesting to see that most of the IVC rural development projects deal with all the economic drivers and barriers explored in the latest research on growth and employment in rural areas. Most of the projects deal with several economic drivers and barriers (especially RURALAND, given its wide focus).

      Integrating the economic drivers and barriers into a SWOT analysis

      Another way of looking at the projects is through a SWOT analysis, outlining and detailing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of rural areas in Europe. The SWOT analysis allows us to provide an overview of the broad strategic focus of the projects, and shows how they seek to address the identified rural development drivers and barriers.

      When defining the projects’ strategic approaches, it is important to bear in mind that development strategies of rural regions can focus on one or more of these aspects:

      • Reinforcing the advantages (strengths) of rural areas (and creating added value);
      • Eliminating or remediating the disadvantages (weaknesses) of the countryside;
      • Taking advantage of new developments and opportunities;
      • Avoiding threats facing the region.

      A SWOT analysis was performed detailing the main characteristics as they appear in studies on rural areas in Europe (see table below). The SWOT analysis relates to the key economic drivers and barriers as described in the previous section. Most of the drivers come under strengths, while most of the barriers come under the weaknesses of the rural areas in Europe.

      Table 3.5 SWOT matrix on rural areas in Europe





      Appeal of the natural environment and the cultural heritage (RURALAND, ICER, Robinwood Plus, DANTE, e-CREATE)

      Lower employment rate, loss of jobs (CesR, Micropol)

      Declining service level (RURALAND, CesR)

      Small firms, relatively high rate of self-employment (B2N)

      Migration, depopulation, loss of human capital (GRISI+, Micropol)

      Underdeveloped infrastructure (roads, ICT, tourism facilities) (Micropol)

      Fewer traffic jams

      Traditional agricultural economy (<-> diversification) (DANTE, e-CREATE)

      Limited capacity of private and public authorities (Robinwood Plus)

      Lack of education, less innovation and expenditure on R&D

      Ageing population



      Use of new technologies (RURALAND, DANTE, e-CREATE, GRISI+, Micropol)

      Climate change (RURALAND, ICER, Robinwood Plus)

      Tourism as a new economic driver (B2N, ICER, Robinwood Plus, DANTE, e-CREATE, CesR)

      Loss of biodiversity (Robinwood Plus)

      Increasing awareness of consumers for authenticity


      Source: Ecorys/IDEA Consult

      Based on the SWOT analysis, it can be concluded that:

      o six of the nine projects build on the strengths of the countryside, especially on:

      - the natural environment and the cultural heritage as a strength (6);
      - the high rate of self-employment in rural regions (1).

      o seven projects aim to remediate the weaknesses of the countryside, especially:

      - the limited capacity of public and private stakeholders (3);
      - the lack/loss of jobs (2);
      - the declining level of services(2)
      - depopulation (2);
      - the underdeveloped infrastructure (1);
      - the declining role of agriculture (1).

      o three of the six projects take more than one disadvantage into account;

      o all (nine) projects take advantage of new developments and market opportunities:

      - the opportunities created by new technology (5);
      - tourism as a growing economic sector (6).

      o three projects focus on current threats. More specifically, these projects deal with reducing the impact of climate change.

      Upon analysing the INTERREG IVC rural projects, it can be concluded that all of them take advantage of one of two main opportunities: new technologies and tourism as a new economic driver. Two projects (DANTE, e-CREATE) do both. These opportunities are being used in combination with the strengths of the region, or to remediate certain weaknesses.

      Table 3.6 Strategic focus of projects




      Offensive strategy

      Adjusting strategy


      Defensive strategy

      Survival strategy

      Source: Ecorys / IDEA Consult

      Although it is difficult to put a clear label on the strategic focus of the nine rural projects (because of the diversity within each project), the projects can, broadly speaking, be classed as follows:

      • Mostly defensive (focusing on using opportunities and avoiding weaknesses): Micropol, CesR, GRISI+;
      • Mostly offensive (focusing on using opportunities and strengths): B2N, Robinwood Plus, ICER;
      • Mixed strategies (focused on dealing with both strengths & weaknesses and seizing the opportunities): e-CREATE, DANTE, RURALAND

3.3 Consolidating/analysing the effectiveness and transferability of the IVC rural projects

  • 3.3.1 Analysing the effectiveness of the nine IVC rural projects
    • Experts on capitalisation differentiate between two levels of effectiveness: firstly at project level and secondly for the broader public including for other regions.
      At project level, the focus is on producing tangible and visible results that are the most relevant for the regions involved. This includes action plans for the region, and actions that have a direct effect in the region.

      Alongside the achievements that are relevant for the project partners, the INTERREG IVC projects also generate outputs and results that are relevant for other regions. Here the focus is on capacity building and the transfer of knowledge that are of interest to other regions and a broader public. This might include a database of good practices and policy recommendations.

      The effectiveness of the 9 rural projects has been summarised in the table below.

      Table 3.7 Overview of the outputs/results achieved by the projects


      Outputs/Results at project level

      Outputs/Results relevant for other regions / broader public


      • 25 good practices identified
      • 6 exchange studies
      • Successful diversification projects, e.g. creating additional employment and reducing the impact on the environment (e.g. Urnatur, ecolodge); Reducing the impact of SME’s on the environment (e.g. a green tourism certification in Sweden);
      • Regional strategies stimulating both biodiversity and local entrepreneurship.

      • On-line database of good practices
      • Assessment tool for the impact of SME’s on the environment
      • Policy Influence Action Plan Framework
      • Policy recommendations on:
      • Promoting and rewarding good practices
      • Promoting and protecting the environment
      • Managing business development and impacts
      • Streamlining practices to support entrepreneurial communities


      • Pilot actions in 5 regions;
      • 28 action plans on different topics (biogas, local gastronomy, GPS guided tours, renewable energy, gender mainstreaming, etc.)

      • Database with 21 good practices.
      • Final report with 8 policy recommendations.


      • 30 good practices were identified
      • Good practice experience exchange and transferring innovative concepts of the eco-accommodation approach to rural regions & public support policies for eco-investors

      • Recommendations book includes 4 main parts: supporting tourism eco-investors, dealing with potential investors, providing advice and guidance and foster innovation in rural areas and supporting investments in rural areas.

      Robinwood PLUS

      • Better forest management in the participating regions;
      • 50 forest sites supervised (first diagnosis, then working groups and action plans)

      See table below for expected outputs/results

      For the 5 projects that started in 2012, the expected results are shown. Robinwood Plus is included in both tables as it has already achieved outputs/results but as it is ongoing further outputs/results are expected.

      Table 3.8 Overview of the expected outputs/results of the projects


      Expected outputs/results at project level

      Expected outputs/results relevant for other regions

      Robinwood PLUS

      See previous table for the results already achieved

      • Integrative and multidisciplinary approach to forests.
      • Policy recommendations on forest management


      • 12 good practices identified aimed at fostering ICT in tourism related SMEs
      • 12 Implementation Plans endorsed by the relevant local or regional decision-making bodies
      • 1 interregional Demonstration Project with outcomes made available for commercial exploitation (open-data approach)

      • Policy Recommendations to at least 80 decision-makers and key players in European rural development
      • E-approach to tourism and the promotion of cultural heritage


      • An expected  output is the creation of direct and indirect employment (services) & New self-catering accommodation services through:
      • 8 regional analyses – to identify good public policies
      • Preparation of the transfer of good practices – handbook targeting regional and local policymakers – and actual transfer of good practices
      • 6 implementation plans (explaining how & when the results of the CesR project will impact regional public policies.
      • Establishing regional workgroups (support for successful transfer)

      Database of good practices (8 PPs + Malta)


      • Will exchange the knowledge for developing ICT projects in rural and mountain areas through learning instruments designed for the consortium;
      • Will define 8 effective plans on adopting ICT tools for tourism
      • Will ensure transfer in a light pilot action in a rural or mountain area, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the eight implementation plans.

      • Database of good practices
      • Recommendations


      • 13 implementation plans to improve entrepreneurship in the rural region (1 per partner region) and publication of 1 good practices guide
      • Successful transfer of at least 5 good practices
      • Identification and analysis of 10 good practices in each partner region

      • Database of good practices
      • Recommendations

      Micropol • Case study collection of Smart Work Centres, a good practice guide, an implementation plan for self-sustainable Smart Work Centres
      • Young entrepreneurs stay in the region, thanks to new offices equipped with broadband connections.
      • A policy recommendation document aimed at improving the use of the smart offices and employment of smart workers and to maintain employment in rural areas
  • 3.3.2 Analysing the transferability of the nine IVC rural projects
    • After identifying and exchanging good practices, it is possible to transfer the good practice to another region. However, a simple copy/paste approach is generally not possible due to a different institutional and cultural contexts and different issues from one region to the next. It is challenging for each rural area to develop strategies tailored to the regional situation and which identify particular niches that offer opportunities to promote the socio-economic development of the region.

      Advice given here on the transferability of IVC rural projects is therefore mostly focused on transferability in general of any good practices, and less so on the specifics of rural development projects. General advice for a good transfer includes the following:

      o Examine transferability both at policy level and at entrepreneurial level.
      o Develop a specific approach, adapted to the regional situation:

      • By proceeding step by step;
      • By first trying to understand the context (through analysis), than develop a vision, strategy and action plan;
      • By developing a plan working alongside the local stakeholders (co-creation);
      • By involving politicians.

      o A bottom-up approach is a good method, but politicians have to support the approach. Local dynamics have to be supported (and not hindered) by government initiatives.

      o Ensure that the ‘exporting’ rural area (the region offering the good practice) and ‘importing’ rural area (the region applying to receive the good practice) have similar (socio-economic) features.

      o When stimulating rural tourism by linking small-scale operators with hotels (where there is a menu of services that the client can hire, as in CESR), it is recommended to ensure the selection of good target groups (families/ organisations who provide good quality services, such as decorating, catering etc.), thereby ensuring a high-quality profile for the rural tourism.

      o As a regional/local authority looking to stimulate rural development by providing small- scale offices (as is the case of Micropol):

      • Infrastructure matters, but services matter too.
      • Provide a mix of different functions.
      • Renovate existing buildings.
      • Lastly, do not oversize the centre, but to start small and build up the initiative in stages.

      A specific challenge in the transfer of practice and knowledge is to reach regions that are not involved in interregional and transnational projects. A recommendation of this capitalisation exercise is, therefore, to involve all European member states in the dissemination of the final reports and publications.

  • 3.3.3 Synergy with other projects
    • There is a strong potential for synergy between projects, especially with regard to:
      o Stimulating rural tourism accommodation: ICER, CesR, RURALAND, DANTE, B2N
      o Stimulating the use of ICT for rural tourism: DANTE, e-CREATE

      Stimulating rural tourism accommodation

      ICER incorporates a very interesting tool designed to stimulate the improvement of tourism accommodation (Nattitude). Checklists are used to see where accommodation providers can improve services, and they are also being guided by the chamber of commerce in their improvements. CesR also focuses on the improvement of tourism accommodation but accomplishes this by offering a ‘menu’ of services to the guests. B2N also includes examples of eco-lodges, such as Urnatur.

      Furthermore, the RURALAND project has several good practices on rural tourism, such as Gastur where small agri-food producers receive training with a view to improving networking with other producers. This is also vital for tourism. With the DANTE project, there is also possible room for synergy since this project also focuses on ensuring the competitiveness of the tourism sector.

      Stimulating the use of ICT for rural tourism

      Between DANTE and e-CREATE, there is a strong potential for synergy, since both projects deal with improving rural tourism through the use of ICT. There has already been some collaboration between the projects, but an exchange of practices and know-how still has to be established.

      Already existing synergy

      The table below shows the synergy the three more advanced projects have developed with other projects in the field of rural development and rural tourism.

      Table 3.9 Overview of the synergy with other projects for B2N, RURALAND & ICER (source: the projects)


      Synergy with other projects/initiatives


      o IMMODI, Bioregions, LOCFOOD, I.Speed, DESUR, Greeninfranet
      o With 2 projects of ESPON: LP3LP, PURR


      o IMMODI (Digital Mountains)
      o ECORegions
      o Need for synergy with local ERDF projects



      Source: Ecorys

3.4 Innovative rural approaches

  • 3.4.1 Innovative approaches of the INTERREG IVC projects
    • During the thematic workshop, innovative elements in each project were identified. The results of this exercise are shown in the table below.

      Table 3.10 Overview of the innovative aspects per project (new partnerships, new links and combinations, new techniques)


      Innovative elements


      o  Use of tales relating to heritage (more attractive than just giving mere facts; offering a better selling scope)

      o    Merging of heritage, tourism and infrastructure investments

      o    Use of open source (see also transferability)


      o   Use of bottom-up, open innovation and co-creation processes with rural entrepreneurs (e.g. family farms) and other stakeholders

      o    Creation of new products (e.g. slow farms)

      o    Application of open source software for ICT development

      Robinwood PLUS

      o    Public-private governance in establishing a forest charter

      o    Multifunctional focus to forest management


      o    Personalised tourism in luxury homes + services (e.g. cooking)

      o    New residences are linked to existing service providers in the region


      o  The use of geographical information (geoportals) to promote the territory and to attract new companies and inhabitants


      o    Smart Work Centres are a solution especially in (mountainous) areas where the internet is not always easily available/possible

      o  The Smart Work Centres are more than mere infrastructures, they are centres of activity, offering a mix of functions


      o  Incorporation of new technology (innovative, clean, energy-efficient) and renewable energies


      o  Promoting of nature and the environment as an asset (and not a restriction) for SME’s and entrepreneurship


      o    New approaches to attract investments and to promote eco-tourism

      Source: Ecorys

  • 3.4.2 Observations on the innovative character of the projects
    • As smart growth is a central ambition in the Europe 2020 Strategy, this section reflects on the innovative character of the projects – and the question of whether the INTERREG IVC rural development projects are truly innovative - mostly by focusing on the traditional views of innovation (mainly in economic/ technological terms), but also considering other perspectives (mainly social).

      In the traditional studies on economic and technological innovation, four types of innovation can be distinguished: product innovations, process innovations, marketing innovations and organisational innovations.  When analysing the INTERREG IVC rural projects, all these types of innovations can be discerned:

      • Product innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components, and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics.
      Example: CESR: creating new products by bringing together entrepreneurs from different sectors (slow farms);

      • Process innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment, and/or software.
      Example: e-CREATE: the use of new techniques and platforms such as open source;

      • Marketing innovation is the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing.
      Example: DANTE: making heritage more appealing to tourists by telling stories.

      • Organisational innovation is the implementation of a new organisational method in the firm’s business practices, workplace organisation, or external relations.
      Example: ROBINWOOD Plus: new public/private governance models for forest management.

      Although it is clear that there are practices illustrating the innovative character of the INTERREG IVC rural projects, the question could be asked to what extent these practices are really new or innovative.

      Various methods are currently available to classify the scale of innovation intensity or to assess the economic impact of innovation (e.g. Souchkov Valeri, Triz;  Coccia Mario, Ceris ).

      Although more research capacity and a detailed study is necessary to make a correct assessment of the good practices in the INTERREG programme, the practices listed above are far from being ‘radical, nor do they push the frontiers of science (as was the case for the X-ray or the photo-voltaïc effect). The innovations listed in Table 3.10 are not concerned with discovering new principles or creating radically new functions (levels 4 and 5 in the model of Souckhov), they set out to extend a function or principle to a new market (level 3), a qualitative improvement within an existing function (level 2) or a quantitative improvement or optimization (level 1).

      In line with this observation, they have more affinity with the social innovation theory of the 'connected difference' (Geoff Mulgan e.a., 2007), emphasizing three key dimensions to social innovation.  First, they are usually a new combination or hybrids of existing elements, rather than wholly new ones. Two, their practice involves cutting across organisational or disciplinary boundaries, and lastly they leave behind dynamic new relationships between previously separate individuals and groups.

      In general, the social innovation theory (innovation in public policy and governance) seems more appropriate for looking at the innovative character of the rural INTERREG approaches. For Julie Simon (2012), social innovations can be understood as “new solutions (products, services, models, markets, processes etc.) that simultaneously meet a social need (more efficiently and effectively than existing solutions) and lead to new or improved capabilities, assets and/or relationships. In other words, social innovations are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act.”

      Five core features are essential if a practice is to be defined as being truly socially innovative: 1) novelty, 2) from ideas to implementation, 3) meets a social need, 4) effectiveness, 5) enhance society’s capacity to act. The table below explains each element. 

      Table 3.11 Overview of socially innovative elements

      Core elements


      1) Novelty

      Social innovations are new to the field, sector, region, market or user, or are applied in a new way.

      2) From ideas to implementation

      As with innovation, there is a distinction between a social invention (developing ideas) and a social innovation (implementing and applying ideas). As such, a distinction is made between promising ideas (which may or may not become social innovations) and social innovations.

      3) Meets a social need

      Social innovations meet a recognised social need. When not met, serious harm or socially recognisable suffering can be caused. For example when services are no longer available in a rural area.

      4) Effectiveness

      Social innovations are more effective than existing solutions – they lead to better outcomes for beneficiaries.

      5) Enhance society’s capacity to act

      Empowers beneficiaries by creating new roles and relationships, developing assets and capabilities and/or better use of assets and resources.

      Source: Ecorys/IDEA Consult

      For our purposes, this social innovation perspective corresponds to the way partners involved in the INTERREG IVC rural projects should have adopted and integrated innovative approaches into their operations. While the projects have not opted to introduce radical changes to strategies or focus on technological product innovations, they have sought to introduce incremental social innovation that offers practical and more effective (better outcomes for the beneficiaries) solutions for social needs in their region, thereby enhancing their capacity to act. This enables the regions to identify and further develop specific niches, and to grasp socio-economic opportunities within these niches. For our purposes, this approach offers the best chance for attracting new, active people to the region, who, in turn, can contribute to further regional development.

  • 3.4.3 Examples how to stimulate rural development
    • From the nine rural projects, nine good practices have been selected by the experts. The goal was to look for innovative approaches that deal with smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth (Europe 2020), effective growth and employment, in relation to social and environmental objectives, tackling barriers and strengthening drivers for growth in rural areas and transforming rural economies.

      The nine good practices were selected based on the following criteria:

      * They were considered the most innovative at the thematic workshop (Kulmin of e-CREATE);
      * They have been transferred the most often between partners (eg. Gastur of RURALAND);
      * They have a very interesting concept that is easily transferable (eg. Nattitude of ICER);
      * They constitute the basis of the whole project (GOZO of CESR).

      They represent different types of good practices, but as can be seen in the table below, most focus on tourism, and a few on stimulating businesses and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

      Table 3.12 Selection of 9 rural INTERREG good practices

      Good Practice







      Use of ICT to unlock cultural heritage




      Branding of ecotourism




      Development of new touristic products (bottom-up)




      Strengthening culinary rural tourism




      Ecolodges in rural areas (farming, tourism, wood hermitage and design)




      Stimulating new tourist services concepts

      Soho Solo

      GRISI Plus


      Better reception of SME’s and support to businesses in rural areas

      Smart work centre



      Strengthening working facilities in rural areas




      Stimulating the use of local wood & crafts

      Source: Ecorys

For each good practice, the same questions were asked:

  • What is the innovative approach?
  • How is it innovative?
  • How it is transferable to other regions?
  • When, where?
  • More information (contact details and web-link)
  • Smart Work Centre (SWC) Portes dus Morvan (Micropol)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      The approach involves making use of new technologies, especially high-speed broadband network connections, with a view to retaining ‘smart workers’ in the rural area.

      How is it innovative?

      The Smart Work Center ‘Portes du Morvan’ approach combines different functions (business, training, meetings) as well as different users in order to tackle the loss of human capital in rural areas. This approach is implemented by utilising new technologies in rural areas and by making them more accessible for smart workers, which is not a common practice applied in such areas.

      The Smart Work Centre ‘Portes du Morvan’ contains eight individual offices, equipped with furniture adapted for people with reduced mobility, shared spaces such as a meeting room and a video conference room, a public ICT-hub for the population (free access, training), as well as connections to the high-speed broadband network (FTTH  fibre optic 100 Mb).

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      This good practice could be applied in similar regions that suffer from the loss of human capital. Some advice for regions that would like to apply this practice:

      • To be successful, do not only provide infrastructure (offices, meeting and video conference rooms, and a high-speed broadband network connection), but also services (a public ICT-hub that offers free advice and training to professionals who want to improve their expertise in ICT tools

      • Try to provide a mix of functions (business, training, meetings)

      • Try to renovate existing buildings;

      • Do not make the centre too big, especially in very rural areas.

      • Build up the initiative gradually.

      When, where?

      The first SWC ‘Portes du Morvan’ opened in September, 2008. It is situated in the town of Lormes to the North of the Departément de la Nievre, in the centre of France.

      More information

      Directeur Mission numérique du Pays Nivernais Morvan

      Patrick MARMION, +, +,

  • Kulmin (e-CREATE)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      The approach involves the digital dissemination of information about cultural heritage monuments and sites via smartphones. The information provided links areas or sites together to create cultural routes around foci of interest (road, path - car, boat, bike, feet). Digital communication can help to unlock the potential inherent in cultural heritage as a resource in society and social development and the potential of cultural heritage attractions and experience. The product has great attraction value and allows for local and regional wealth creation.

      How is it innovative?

      The aim of Kulmin is to use mobile phones for outreach activities to disseminate audio-visual information about cultural heritage monuments and sites. With the prevalence of smartphones, the audience now has an excellent tool to acquire information. Kulmin focuses on the cultural heritage monuments and sites in people's everyday environments and aims at increasing the understanding of cultural heritage. It can be used to enhance user-experience and promote attractions tourism, economic development, experience-based business development based on cultural heritage monuments and sites and can form a basis for enhancing local values based on the appreciation and protection of cultural heritage monuments and sites, which is made much easier through the integration of ICT.

      Kulmin is a complete system for the digital dissemination of cultural heritage and includes the following features, integrated into a seamless user interface:

      o The website, where all information and communication is available, searchable and ready to be shared on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

      o A web application for smart phones, which is at the heart of the system. It contains information about the historical monuments and sites marked on maps that can be sorted alphabetically according to category or as an overview.

      o Each historical monument and site has its own info-page including guidance in the form of text, video and audio, picture galleries, information on opening times etc. and maps.

      Located at the cultural heritage monument or site is a sign displaying information about the monument; i.e. traditional mediation, and a QR code. By scanning the code with the phone or by entering the system's address ( into the phone browser, the public immediately gets access to the digital interpretation system. Kulmin can also be used regardless of location. The system has clear lists of sites, and maps showing where to find them. Through Kulmin’s website, the public can share experiences using the comment box, or easily share videos, photos, and maps with others via social media.

      Understanding of the cultural heritage of people’s daily surroundings is part of a conservation strategy to increase the appreciation and value of the cultural heritage, with a view to increasing respect and thus improving protection as a result.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      It is particularly of interest for regions that are heavily dependent on the tourism industry and SMEs, especially, for regions that have a high concentration of cultural heritage monuments.  However, it is important that regions have reliable 3G / Wi-Fi coverage.

      When, where?

      The project was implemented in Norway in the county of Sør-Trøndelag in November 2010.

      More information

      Sør-Trøndelag fylkeskommune (South Trøndelag County Authority)

      Kristin Prestvold
      Postboks 2350, Sluppen, 7004 Trondheim, Norway

  • Soho Solo (GRISI PLUS)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      The approach is to encourage independent home workers to move to and settle in rural regions close to the Atlantic coast.

      How is it innovative?

      The Soho Solo staff is there to welcome newcomers and support them with their business creation projects and to develop new activities in the Gers. The project ambitions include:

      o Helping to create and/or grow businesses (consulting, mentoring and information services, help to obtain funding, etc.);

      o Creating a network, where people can easily get into contact with Soho Solo villages and the local environment (Information on housing and local services aimed at facilitating relocation);

      o Providing people that are interested in developing their business in the Gers area with information about the local and regional economy.

      The Soho Solo project offers customised support and a range of services designed to meet the needs of the self-employed such as a support team, a club, partners, training, and meetings in the rural area.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      This good practice could be applied in similar regions looking to increase their human capital through initiatives designed to encourage people to develop their business in the rural area.

      When, where?

      The Soho Solo project was implemented in the Gers province, which is situated in the heart of the South West of France, near the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean. The project was implemented during 2006-2008.

      More information
  • Elwood (Robinwood Plus)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      The approach involves enhancing local woods by sharing, developing and promoting local wood crafts and local timber use.

      How is it innovative?

      The aim of El Wood is to encourage a strong interaction between the Park and the local community operators involved in tourism, economic and cultural activities linked to the forestry system, thereby creating a network of private initiatives and public powers to meet the demands of the territory. This is achieved by:

      1. Sharing:
      o local crafts with young people;
      o knowledge between craftsmen, and between craftsmen and other local wood professionals;
      o the importance of local wood use.

      2. Developing:
      o by the identification of wood workers’ needs;
      o by combining local wood transformers and implementing common and efficient tools;
      o by identifying new products or strengthening traditional ones;
      o by encouraging local public bodies to create new local markets.

      3. Promoting:
      o by organising common and large-scale marketing campaigns;
      o through exhibits, fairs and etc. among citizens, tourists and people from other territories  and among local stakeholders;
      o by encouraging young people who have the potential to become the craftsmen of tomorrow.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      Useful for regions with similar environmental and socio-economic situations looking to revitalise rural areas through sustainable forestry.

      When, where?

      ELWOOD has been created in cooperation between four organizations:
      The regional natural Park Périgord-Limousin (lead partner - Limousin),
      The regional natural Park of Aveto (Liguria),
      The regional natural Park of Portofino (Liguria)
      The municipality of Siculeni (Hargitha).
      The project was implemented in the Aveto Park, Liguria, Italy.

      More information

      Parco Naturale Regionale dell’Aveto

      Paolo Cresta (director of the Park),
      +39 0185340311,

      Via marrè 75/A 16041 Borzonasca (Ge)

  • Nattitude (ICER)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      Nattitude is a global project initiated by the Regional Council of Auvergne, which aims at enhancing the appeal of Auvergne. The idea is to encourage the emergence of a range of tourist accommodation that reflects a ‘Nature Attitude’ trend where citizens are looking to consume responsibly while at the same time not letting go of their ‘self-centred’ interests.

      How is it innovative?

      Nattitude aims to create a range of accommodation choices (hotels, B&Bs, self-catering holiday homes, campsites, holiday villages) in keeping with both the natural qualities of Auvergne (and its potential in terms of activities), and fulfilling the expectations of today’s clientele (well-being, environmental respect, discovery of the destination, etc.). The project has set itself the task of emphasising the value of the existing offer and encouraging the creation of new accommodation, with the identity of Auvergne as the underlying theme. To achieve this, a selection and development process has been put in place involving all the stakeholders of the tourist sector (Departmental Tourism Board, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Regional Nature Parks, etc.).

      This common approach aimed at pooling the resources and energies at work in the region reflects the ‘Nattitude state of mind’ and has remained its strength ever since its creation. This joint work has led to the development of an evaluation grid organised around on 6 main areas:

      1. Exceptional sites (villages of character, emblematic natural sites...) far from any kind of pollution;
      2. Authentic and/or unusual architecture respecting the site and local heritage;
      3. Environmental awareness (local consumption, local material, recycling...);
      4. Well-being (specific equipment and/or services);
      5. Integration of the local economy (Nattitude establishments choose local service providers);
      6. Conviviality and quality of service.

      Nattitude adopted a questionnaire approach based on over 150 criteria related to 6 main themes. This questionnaire is conducted in each accommodation business that is interested in being part of the Nattitude initiative. After filling in this questionnaire, there are two possible scenarios:

      1. The accommodation does not meet the minimum requirements. In this case, Nattitude proposes a personalised accompaniment solution (the aim of which is to help it to improve its performances and ultimately become part of the Nattitude group). If the business is finally accepted, it will benefit from advice and a personalised follow-up/monitoring.

      2. The accommodation meets the minimum requirements. In this case, it immediately benefits from advice and the promotional and commercial support usually given to Nattitude members.

      Nattitude members are provided with various supporting tools including:

      1. Advice and personalised accompaniment (This process includes two stages: The service providers are directed to gain inspiration from the 250 resource ideas from the ‘Nattitude Book of Ideas’; The Regional Tourism Development Board decides whether or not to award the business with the ‘Nattitude’ sign of recognition after the company’s assessment visit.)

      o The contract for progress (This document is compiled for the new businesses on an individual basis and details their evaluation, while suggesting practical solutions (advice, technical tools, financial support, etc.) to improve the services they offer.)

      o Financial support (Regional subsidies (which can vary depending on  the type of accommodation) are attributed after an evaluation of the project files which are most in line with the Nattitude approach.)

      2. The Nattitude toolbox

      o Technical days (Based on the principle of ‘healthy’ emulation and the network effect, these themed days (interior design, responsible well-being, short supply chain, eco-labels, commercial strategy, quality policy, etc.) bring together all the different parties (Nattitude members and accompanied businesses). They are an opportunity to boost the network with new ideas (put forward by internal experts) and to enhance the discussions via the internal best practices within the network (e.g.8 technical days were organised in 2010)

      o Technical guides (The guidebooks are a logical follow-up to the technical days and summarise and supplement the topics discussed during the days.)

      o The directory (This directory is compiled jointly by the businesses, the institutional stakeholders and professionals, and its main aim is to help the service providers find sub-contractors that share the Nattitude ‘spirit’ (it will soon be updated).)

      3. A real promotional and commercial advantage (As well as the practical support offered, the Nattitude members also benefit from a greater promotional visibility and a real commercial advantage.)

      o Specific promotional tools (A presentation leaflet (available in French and English) targeting professionals (tour operators, press, etc.); A postcard (in French and English) targeting the general public and directing it to the website; A video presenting the Nattitude approach and spirit; A specific brochure (in French and English) listing all the accommodation businesses that have adopted the approach; Specific pages on the CRDTA’s general public website; Priority integration into all the CRDTA’s marketing actions in France and abroad; Participation in specific public and professional tradeshows in France and abroad.)

      o Specific affinity partnerships (Creation of gift boxes specifically designed for Nattitude accommodation).

      This overall territorial approach applied by the Regional Council of Auvergne is a practical and innovative response to the demand for a qualitative offer of eco-responsible tourism accommodation reflecting the image of the new Auvergne. It demonstrates that a public strategy can guide and support private projects in the sector of accommodation thereby increasing the overall quality of the supply and reduce its impact on the environment.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      Regions that are heavily dependent on the tourism industry and would like to adjust their services to the current demand for eco-responsible tourism accommodation.

      When, where?

      The project started in 2008 and is being implemented by the regional Council of Auvergne and Auvergne Regional Tourism Development Board, France.

      More information

      Auvergne Regional Tourism Development Board

      Michèle POURCHER,

  • Urnatur (B2N)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      Urnatur is a small-scale ecolodge, certified by the Swedish eco-tourism brand Natures Best as being high quality and responsible eco-tourism. Urnatur works with the tourism industry in the constructing of wood hermitages for holding conferences, events and offering a retreat and a calm place surrounded by beautiful nature. The project also works with farming - i.e promoting traditional grazing, mowing techniques, and the pollarding of trees. Nature conservation is another important part of the work of Urnatur. Furthermore, the project is engaged in developing the design brand Urnatur that will focus on hand-printed cloth, etc. Urnatur lodges offer a combination of calmness and beautiful surroundings to their guests. It is an off-the-grid forest hermitage, carrying a “luxury-is-simplicity” message.

      Among the wide variety of activities run by Urnatur, it is tourism that generates the highest income, making it possible to run the farm and all the conservation projects. If URNATUR was only a traditional farm, its annual turnover would be approx. €10 000, by combining it with tourism, this figure is above  €100 000.

      How is it innovative?

      This small-scale eco lodge is certified as high quality and responsible ecotourism with no or a positive environmental impact. The enterprise also has a very positive impact on the biological, visual, and cultural values in the natural area. The enterprise manages the cultural landscape in a traditional way, with grazing, mowing, and pollarding, and thereby preserves the biological and cultural values for the future. Urnatur is working towards promoting biological/biodiversity values, visual impact and recreational value, cultural heritage, environmental values.

      The eco lodge is located in a valuable natural area. The management of the pastures and meadows and the pollarding of trees are helping to fulfil the national environmental objectives of ‘a varied agricultural landscape’ and ‘a rich diversity of plant and animal life.’ The Rural Development Programme for Östergötland promotes economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable development in rural areas. One contribution is to support local businesses by coaching and giving grants for new businesses and businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Another relevant policy is the Regional Development Plan for the region of Östergötland including the action programme for Culture and the action programme for Enterprises.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      The Urnatur practice is easily transferable to many valuable natural areas in Europe if the right entrepreneur is at hand.

      When, where?

      The Urnatur practice comes from the Östergötland province in Sweden and was started in 2007. Urnatur did benefit from small investment grants when the business was first set up but is now run on a fully commercial basis with no public support.

      More information


      Håkan Strotz & Ulrika Krynitz
      Sjögetorp, SE-599 91 – Ödeshög - Sweden ,

  • GOZO (CesR)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      Aimed at the creation of clusters of self-catering accommodation for holidaymakers, the project emphasises the creation of sustainable work places by unlocking the potential of tourism.

      How is it innovative?

      This practice involves companies that manage clusters of self-catering accommodation properties also offering a wide range of additional services that their clients might choose to use during their holiday. This à la carte menu includes services such as masseuses, hairdressers, personal chefs, maids, tour-guides, hiking-guides etc. Upon arrival at their holiday accommodation, clients are presented with a list of services that they may wish to use during their stay together with a price list. For the most part, self-catering accommodation comes in the form of farmhouses in rural areas and the provision of these services stimulates employment and opportunities in the rural area. Another benefit of this practice is that, since guests are able to make use of these services from the luxury of their own accommodation, transport usage during their stay is also reduced thus cutting down on carbon emissions and noise pollution.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      The format of this practice is not particularly difficult to apply and thus would not prove difficult to transfer. In order for it to be a success, however, the management must ensure that the staff providing the services are adequately qualified and trained. This good practice should prove to be transferable to regions that depend on rural tourism.

      When, where?

      The company Baron Group in Gozo started this initiative in 2009. Co-financing rates: 34% EU Funds, 6% National Funds, 60% Private Funds.

      More information

      Ministry for Gozo - Eco-Gozo Regional Development Directorate

      Anthony Zammit,,

  • Bauernhofferien (DANTE)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      The improvement and diversification of tourism services is a continuous process, especially when it comes to facing the increasing competition in holiday and leisure destinations. The project focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of the tourism sector as well as on the development of tourism activities through the use of ICT.

      How is it innovative?

      New rural tourism services must be continuously innovated to preserve tourist attention and to increase the number of visitors to rural areas. Especially for Lower Saxony, where tourism is an important economic sector, employing about 340 thousand people and generating a turnover of €15 billion. The Rural Leisure Association has therefore developed a procedure for bottom-up innovation through intensive exchange among all members on new products and services. This good practice helps the members of the Association to create new tourism services and products together or individually. The ICT infrastructure and the staff of the Association supports the development of new products and (leisure and holiday) services for farm holidays in the rural area. New ideas and outputs match the needs of members and guests and are oriented towards the target group. The purpose of Bauernhof-ferien is to provide its members with the possibility of developing projects together, inventing offers to target groups and being present on the market altogether.

      The essence of the continuous development of new rural tourist business concepts is:

      o A bottom-up approach: trust-based innovation that begins and ends with the rural entrepreneur (family farms);

      o Peer-learning: facilitate peer-learning processes between entrepreneurs;

      o Continuous co-creation: facilitating open innovation processes by creating, together, (triple-helix) new business concepts for rural entrepreneurship;

      o Open source: using developed (ICT) infrastructure facilitates business development and is free to share.

      ICT services are an important tool and marketing-channel for members of the Association as well as for (potential) visitors. Since ICT is of strategic importance for the Association, the Association is prepared to invest time and resources in the development of new ICT tools and applications. Currently, Bauernhof-ferien is experimenting with online booking systems, self-employed data care and independent, up-to-date presentation. The development and use of open source software is the next step in this process.

      Tourists with their purchasing power help to bring life to rural areas and help reduce human capital loss. Furthermore, increasing rural tourism can counterbalance the decline in activities and income from primary agricultural sources in rural areas. Thus, small villages can be preserved, regional awareness can become even stronger, and traditions can be sustained and passed on to future generations.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      This project is a good example for rural regions that are suffering from the loss of human capital, also for rural areas that are heavily dependent on tourism.

      Practical Advice:

      • Build success through cooperation and networking. Cooperation can strengthen and increase the range of services offered;

      • Always follow up a good idea provided by anyone and perfect it;

      • Avoid conflicts with different interest groups and stakeholders, transform a disadvantage into an opportunity, and share this with everyone.

      When, where?

      This farmers’ association ‘Bauernhofferien A.G.’ was founded on 13th of November 1972. This Association Bauernhofferien (Federal Society for holiday and rural tourism of Lower Saxony, in short: Rural Leisure Association) has 400 members and 200 partners in the federal state of Lower Saxony (Germany).   The financial plan of the project amounts to €16 193 600. This project is supported with about 50 % financed by fees of members and 50 % by public funds. The good practice is being developed together with InKnowCom, an independent Dutch foundation for applying bottom-up open innovation co-creation processes for stimulating sustainable innovation and corporate social responsibility.

      More information

      Bauernhofferien (Federal Society for holiday and rural tourism) of Lower Saxony

      Lindhooper Str. 63, 27283 Verden/Aller, Germany

      Elke Boggasch (manager), Tel. 00 49 4231 96650,

      InKnowCom, POBox 40, 9750 AA Haren (Gn) The Netherlands,

      Irmgard Starmann (director)

  • Gastur (RURALAND)
    • What is the innovative approach?

      Gastur combines the creation of enhanced value of endogenous agri-food products with the use of short supply channels. Small agri-food producers were provided with training in order to give them the skills they needed to improve productivity and networking with other producers in the territory, thereby creating a mutual benefit.

      How is it innovative?

      The purpose of the project is to increase the number of tourism products in the district as a whole, both in terms of local food production and in terms of culture, in order to make the district a beacon of gastronomic tourism in northern Europe, offering a number of well-defined, high-quality, varied tourist products. The products are environmentally, socially and financially sustainable. This project is structured around the preparing of an inventory of small-scale food producers currently based in the district and a review of their status as potential tourism entrepreneurs.
      In order to achieve its aims, the project includes training for the producers, providing them with a clearer vision and knowledge of what tourism means to individual companies and to the region as a whole. Within a period of one year, with technical support, the project aims to create a structured method that is both efficient and easy to use by artisan producers of gastronomic products wishing to develop tourism as part of their business.

      Implementation of the best practice
      The work has been divided into three ‘work packs’ (WP):

      1. The first work pack contained an inventory of currently existing small-scale food producers in the county, as well as a review of their status as potential tourism entrepreneurs. The essence of the work was to develop a useful and simple method designed to increase the number of tourism products based on artisan food production. (1WP)

      2. The second work pack included the training of the producers. Efforts were made to develop an effective methodology for product development (2WP)

      3. The third work pack included research by external expertise (ETOUR, the European Tourism Research Organisation) to ensure the quality of the project.(3WP)

      Gastur focuses on creating enhanced value of both the tangible and intangible heritage in rural areas through the promotion of endogenous products and the development of knowledge of these areas through actions aimed at the local population and persons who have come from outside the territories. Apart from the intangible benefit obtained from greater knowledge and recognition of the environment in which they live, these actions produce an economic benefit for local inhabitants and, consequently, lead to an increase in the quality of their lives, as they can preserve their customs and traditional know-how.

      How it is transferable to other regions?

      This good practice could be transferable to regions that are looking to develop sustainable tourism; that suffer from population decline; with a relatively undeveloped agricultural sector; that need to strengthen the network of regional entrepreneurs. Gastur already includes a good example of how and to which regions this good practice could be transferred.  This project has three partner regions (Andalusia, Kainuu and Salaj), which have seen the potential for adaptation of this good practice in their own territories and have already designed a pilot action. Furthermore, the exporter of Gasture, Jämtland has signed collaboration agreements with both importing regions, Kainuu and Salaj, thereby guaranteeing future collaboration after the RURALAND project has concluded.

      When, where?

      Gastur started in September, 2010. This project is conducted by the region of Jämtland (Northern Sweden).

      More information

      Jämtlands läns institut för landsbygdsutveckling, JiLU

      Dag Hartman

The above nine good practices show in more detail how the nine rural development projects:

  • deal with economic development in a sustainable way (B2N, RURALAND),
  • stimulate economic development and vital villages through ICT (Micropol, GRISI Plus),
  • stimulate rural tourism (ICER, CESR), stimulate rural tourism through ICT (e-CREATE, DANTE),
  • and stimulate entrepreneurship through forest management (ROBINWOOD Plus).

The next chapter presents conclusions and key policy messages.


Previous chapter

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