Systematic Innovation Areas
Pilgrimage may be one of the earliest and most important forms of tourism. Some observers describe 'route tourism' as the world's best hope for securing sustainability in travel and tourism. Pilgrimage routes represent a good opportunity for developing less explored areas with valuable Cultural and Natural Heritage that appeal to external visitors.
Food, drinks and gastronomy encompass cultural practices, landscape, local history, values and cultural heritage. Food serves to connect us with the land, our heritage and the people around us. It is a diverse and dynamic channel for sharing stories, forming relationships and building communities. By combining a landscape with these edible experiences, we create an authentic 'taste of place'.
Rural communities have generally less access to the arts. However, art and festivals are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas as a means to revitalize local economies. They have direct and indirect impacts on communities. They provide opportunities for participation, skills development, volunteering and social, cultural economic and environmental developments. Art and festivals have impacts that go well beyond what can be measured in economic terms. They contribute to the quality of life by strengthening communities, providing unique activities and events, building awareness of diverse cultures and identities, and acting as a source of community pride. By engaging youth, art and festivals can also promote youth entrepreneurship and a 'creative rural economy', providing inspirational jobs and examples of entrepreneurship that are particularly attractive to young people.
Migration is an integral part of contemporary life and economic conditions in a rapidly globalizing world. The arrival of 'incomers' can create opportunities for re-population, growth and potential for rural regeneration, beyond the challenges presented by the migration crisis. New people always bring innovations, change and development, transforming the obsolete long-established approaches. Change is never easy, and bonding over heritage in terms of local tradition, languages, art and crafts or gastronomy can play an important role in boosting and accelerating the process of integration and regeneration.
The concept of 'resilience' comes from physics and describes a quality of a material to regain its original shape after being bent, compressed or stretched. With regard to humans, it can be defined as a person's ability to cope and recover quickly from external shocks. A person can learn and develop strength, skills and motivation to cope in difficult situations and to re-establish normal life and be a more resilient human. By enhancing the role of Cultural and Natural Heritage for building resilience against the dual threats of climate change and disasters and ensuring that all development is risk-informed, rural communities can protect against losses and simultaneously boost economic growth, create jobs and livelihoods, strengthen access to health and education, and contribute to foster the responsible ownership of Cultural and Natural Heritage in rural areas.
A landscape is the product of past decisions. Natural and cultural processes have created today's landscapes. A landscape provides attractive places for people to live, work or play and making a significant contribution to the economy through tourism and farming. They are also nature's home, providing habitats for many threatened species and vital environmental services. According to the European landscape Convention, public is encouraged to take an active part in landscape protection, conserving and maintaining its heritage value, helping to steer changes brought about by economic, social or environmental necessity, and in its planning. The preservation of the traditional landscape and protection of the surrounding environment play a strategic role in developing and providing economic benefits to local rural communities.