01/10/2020 Opinion

Josep Maria Piñol and Toni Calero, Technical Staff of the of the Chair for University and Knowledge Region - URV

Good practices in european regions and local areas

This section presents specific and varied examples of the contribution of a knowledge-based economy and society. It should be remembered that identifying and analyzing good practices by specific areas or by region helps guide the design of strategies and policies.

Knowledge and innovation have a direct impact in all global productive areas, whether traditional sectors or emerging areas. In this issue we choose to analyze how knowledge and innovation affect one of the most important sectors of our territory, tourism, from the presentation of diverse geographical contexts. Cases are grouped thematically, although innovation can be considered to be applied in a cross-cutting manner.


The application of knowledge and innovation are also necessary in improving the territorial framework for adaptation to tourism trends and sustainability. This orientation highlights, for example, the restoration of the Cap de Creus, where the operation carried out included the dismantling of an old holiday resort to contribute to the restoration of the environment. Also noteworthy is the Parc dels Estanys de la Platja d’Aro, where a new environmental quality is introduced into its environment and urban cohesion is favored. Other similar references are the remodeling of the coastal front to Altea or the renovation strategies on the beach of Palma (including the creation of several distinct and complementary “village cores” between them).


The improvements implemented by certain tourist establishments are another element that directly affects the quality of the offer and that guides the visitor profile, so its economic impact is noticeable. First of all, TwentyTú Hi-Tech is presented, a new concept in new generation economic urban accommodation, in Barcelona, and the first hostel to be certified “Biosphere Responsible Tourism” where socialization among users is encouraged and ICT is used. You can also highlight l’Avenc de Tavertet, where family management and inclusion of the local economy go hand in hand or Mas Salagros EcoResort, the first 100% sustainable resort in Spain and linked to the slow trend. The European panorama presents examples such as the Whitepod in Switzerland, which has capsules with minimal environmental impact, Novotel of Paris with all its rooms built with ecological materials or the Ville Sull’Arno in Italy.


Another set of cases is based on the strategic segmentation of the offer by specific modalities. An example is the Hotel Corona Tortosa, a remodeled establishment with partial orientation to sports tourism (cycling) taking advantage of the situation in the road network, the Tortosa velodrome and the proximity to the Ports and the Ebro Delta. The merger between urban tourism and nature tourism in Vitoria-Gasteiz is also a benchmark, for the promotional use of the European green capital, the network of parks, the green ring and environmental centers. In a similar line of specialization is the offer of tourism by museums in Sitges, with a local promotion strategy that takes into account the link with other powerful brands (such as Barcelona) and the Costa Blanca as an active and sports tourism destination in markets such as Norway (taking advantage of air connectivity).


Joining up the different types of tourism on offer also adds value to the product and territorial promotion. Of particular note is the Circular crossing through the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, which is 56 kilometres long and has 9,000 m of accumulated elevation, combining nine shelters (in several itineraries) and Oleoturisme Garrigues, as a strategy of linking with the most representative quality product around small and medium-sized companies. In this area another leading initiative is the Rioja Alavesa Wine Route, which has helped to create a unique offer of quality accommodation and other resources in relation to a recognized wine name (whilst differentiating the destination from the brand and community of Rioja).


Brand management is an element that has already appeared in previous issues of this newsletter and also plays a prominent role in the tourism sector. One of the closest examples territorially in South Catalonia is the brand strategy 100% Olot, which brings together local offers and combines them with the context of Garrotxa, creating a joint space identified with nature, gastronomy, sport, culture and other complementary areas. On the other hand, territorial branding is under great development in France. Diversity of brands of cities and departments have emerged, with a multiple orientation of exterior projection. From a tourism point of view, it is worth highlighting the new communication campaign Metz (northeastern France).


Among the cases highlighted in this area we find the use of big data in Benidorm, to find out the traveler’s satisfaction index, mobility flows, median prices and numbers of visitors. Also the use of tourist intelligence in Malaga, with the aim of redirecting the flows that are concentrated to the historical core (from heat maps) and creating new routes ( “Discover Malaga”). Also noteworthy is the intelligent signage in Conil de la Frontera (Cadiz), using beacons and NFC cards, as well as initiatives to create a smart destination in Finestrat (Alicante) based on smartoffice, public wifi on the beaches, 4G in rural areas, and use of drones and buses on demand (energy efficiency).


The management of public administrations also plays a key role in the stimulation and dynamization of tourism. Cases such as Gijón, sustainable tourism destination and city certified by Biosphere World Urban Destination, show how environmental and social commitment can become a tool for differentiation. It is also part of management trends at Aramón, the first state business group of snow and mountain tourism with a 50% participation by the Aragonese government and Ibercaja, which operates as a holding company that integrates and manages five seasons. Its purpose is the development of the respective counties. Finally, we would also highlight joint management between public and private areas in el Ejido (Almeria) to create a sustainable destination.


Inter-territory collaboration is an established and necessary practice in Europe. Networking enables the exchange of knowledge and experiences between territories, with the aim of implementing improvement actions. In the context of tourism there are countless representative examples, such as the DIGITOURISM, where digital technology is introduced to tourism, the ECO-CICLE network, which promotes cycling in natural areas or STAR Cities, which promotes sustainable river tourism. The consortium figure, on the other hand, is led by projects such as CHRISTA, which is based on using culture and heritage as instruments to promote responsible, innovative and sustainable tourism and RAMSAT, which seeks the revitalization of remote and mountainous areas through sustainable alternative tourism.

Other examples of interest: