Promotion and development of natural and cultural heritage of Bulgarian – Greek cross-border region through smart and digital tools-eTourist

Project identication:

Common challenges tackled by the project consist in development & pilot testing of innovative techniques for preservation & promotion of cultural & natiral heritage, traditional culinary & wine of CB region Haskovo – Evros & for knowledge transfer for preservation of traditional culinary & wine as part of CB cultural heritage.Project overall objective is to promote & develop cultural & natural heritage, gastronomy & wine in CB area Haskovo-Evros for tourist purposes.To achieve the main objective the project provides: assesment of natural & cultural heritage sites & traditional culinary & wine which are of high importance for Haskovo-Evros region & therefore for the establishment of adequate smart & digital tolls for promotion of the natural & cultural resources in the CB region & on European level as regions advantages.The project provides knowledge transfer related to preserving traditional culinary & wine of CB region.Main outputs enhanced by joint project management & coordination are: information measures; developed integrated eTOURIST methodology for cultural & natural sites & for traditional culinary & wine which will support preserving, presenting & promoting cultural & natural resources of CB region in a uniform way; eTOURIST package providing access to cultural & natural heritage & to traditional culinary & wine in an innovative way through smart application & through digital sources on the Internet; knowledge transfer in Cb region related to traditional culinary & wines; promotion of cultural & natural heritage sites & of traditional culinary & wine of Haskovo – Evros CB region on the international tourism market. Target groups who will benefit from the outputs: Citizens of target CB area; Tourist organizations; Cultural institutions; Tourists in target CB area; Chefs, Local & regional media. In order to address these common challenges the project approach is focused mainly on actions that support the better interpretation of natural &cultural heritage (including ICT applications) & on actions that support events promoting cultural identity, gastronomy & wine as cultural resources & enhancing the awareness of targeted CB area cultural & natural heritage including knowledge transfer. The new solutions that will be developed during the project are: 1) development of application for smart devices – eTOURIST, which will provide detailed information for cultural, natural sites, gastronomy & wine of the target CB region to tourists, incl. photos, text, web-site, inclusion of tourist routes, location, etc. The project approach consists in CB cooperation for better interpretation of natural & cultural heritage (ICT applications), events promoting & enhancing awareness of CB area cultural identity. The added value is the increased attractiveness of CB cultural & natural assets for visitors which will in turn lead to increased tourist traffic in target CB area.

Background and history of the project

Project is developed by 4 partners in detailed communication, networking & ensuring beneficiaries’ commitment for transforming the idea into specific objectives & activities & establishing sustainable project partnership.Promotion of cultural & natural heritage, gastronomy & wine is defined as challenge & advantage for Haskovo & Evros regions which is addressed to the relevant Programme prioritry (PA2, TO 06, IP 6c).The common CB problems & challenges that will be tackled by the project consist in development & pilot testing of innovative techniques for preservation & promotion of cultural & natiral heritage, gastronomy & wine as cultural resources of CB region & for knowledge transfer in the area of preservation of traditional culinary & wine as part of the cultural heritage of CB region.The analysis of CB area strengths & weaknesses in the Programme document show that it is characterized by largely unexploited, rich cultural & natural heritage resources which include cultural assets covering over 3000 years of history.The use of cultural & natural heritage for tourist promotion purposes is a longstanding strategic priority for CB area but has been addressed in prior programming periods only partially & in a fragmented manner with very low effectiveness.In recent years, overall tourist activity has increased in CB area, mainly due to exogenous factors, and this creates an important development opportunity.The partners will work on promoting & developing natural & cultural heritage, gastronomy & wine as cultural resources in the target CB region. The common challenges addressed by the project are: increased attractiveness of cultural & natural assets for local & international visitors in the target CB region & increased tourist traffic in target CB area. In order to address these common challenges the project approach is focused mainly on actions that support the better interpretation of natural & cultural heritage (including ICT applications) & on actions that support events promoting cultural identity, gastronomy & wine as cultural resources & enhancing the awareness of targeted CB area cultural & natural heritage including knowledge transfer. The new solutions that will be developed during the project are: 1) development of application for smart devices – eTOURIST, which will provide detailed information for cultural, natural sites, gastronomy & wine of the target CB region to tourists, incl. photos, text, web-site, inclusion of tourist routes, location, etc. The application will be used for free, downloaded at AppStore & Google Play, it is compatible with smart devices & operational systems. At the core of the application is the development of individual QR Codes for each tourist site with cultural, historical & natural value. Close to each tourist site weatherproof sign with a QR code will be installed, which after being read by the tourists with their smart device will take the user to detailed & interactive information for the site.2)Development of interactive digital web portal “Cultural & natural heritage of Haskovo – Evros”.The digital web portal will present sites of natural & cultural heritage, gastronomy & wine in the targeted CB region in an innovative way.Sites of high importance for the region will be presented with high-quality & interactive panorama photos through which users can see the relevant site in details, video tours to the relevant sites will be uploaded, character information for the sites will be presented.Smart & digital tools will contribute to valorization of targeted cross-border area cultural & natural heritage for tourist purposes as technologies widely used by tourists, easy to access & providing sought information immediately.eTOURIST application will give tourists the opportunity to learn more for the relevant site without the need of a special tourist guide at the very place.The digital web portal is an opportunity to see & walk around the tourist sites of cultural, historical & natural value in the target CB area while sitting at home & browsing.The target groups are: visitors, tourists & citizens of the target CB area. The project will contribute to improvement of entrepreneurship conditions in tourism & to sustainable tourism in  CB area through increase in expected number of visits to supported sites of cultural and natural heritage & attractions.   

Objectives of the project

Project overall objective is to promote & develop cultural & natural heritage, gastronomy & wine in CB area Haskovo-Evros for tourist purposes. It is linked to Programme Specific objective 4 – To valorize cross border area cultural & natural heritage for tourist purposes. To achieve the main objective the project provides actions which will contribute to assesment of sites of natural & cultural heritage and traditional culinary & wine which are of high importance for Haskovo-Evros region & therefore for the establishment of adequate smart & digital tolls for promotion of the natural & cultural resources in the CB region & on European level as regions advantages. The actions will aslo provide knowledge transfer related to preserving traditional culinary & wine of target CB region. The project scope is: 1) identification of sites of cultural & natural heritage important for tourist purposes in CB region; 2) identification of traditional culinary & wine including traditional recipes  & wine regions of importance for CB region; 3) creation of software application for smart devices for access to natural & cultural sites, gastronomy & wine of CB area in an innovative way. The application will provide detailed information including text, photos, tourist routes, etc. It will be compatible with different smart devices & operational systems and will be used for free; 4) creation of interactive digital web portal with video tours of natural & cultural sites in the CB region, presentation of CB intangible cultural heritage, traditional culinary & wine accessible for people with disabilities; 5) knowledge transfer; 6) participation in international tourist exhibition for promoting cultural identity & enhancing awareness of target CB area cultural & natural heritage, culinary & wine on the international market. Project concept is to exploit the comparative advantage offered by rich & diverse cultural & natural resources for promoting development (tourism).

Expected Results

The project will contribute to valorization of cultural & natural heritage, traditional culinary & wine in Haskovo-Evros regions for tourist purposes through the implementing  activities that support better interpretation of natural & cultural heritage, culinary & wine traditions through ICT application & tools (developed eTOURIST package).The smart application through checking QR code at the place presents detailed information to the visitor & guides him for other cultural & natural sites nearby & presents traditional recipes & wine.The interactive digital web portal provides a close walk around the cultural & natural heritage sites in CB area & videos for gastronomy & wine through developed video tours, digiatlized sites & through videos for the sites. eTOURIST package is based on fast communication & on integration of the most important cultural & natural heritage sites, gastronomy & wine traditions of the CB area at one place. The project will contribute to increasing the interest of tourists to the promoted sites of cultral & natural heritage in the target CB area & thus increase the number of visits to these sites. For this the project provides to monitor the visits to the sites through the number of downloads of the application for smart devices & the number of checked QR codes. The project also provides to monitor the visits in the digital web portal.The project will contribute to increasing the interest of tourists to the supported sites of cultral & natural heritage in the target CB area through the promotion campaign & through the participation in international tourist exhibition which will bring the new solutions developed on the project to professionals in tourism sector & also to the wide public. The project will contribute to developing cultural & natural heritage sites in the target CB area by assessing the cultural & natural heritage sites which are important for the regions & by addressing the support to them.