The European network for the promotion of culinary and proximity tourism in rural areas

EN Co-funded by the EU_POS

Covid-19 crisis impacted severely on tourism performance sector. According to Eurostat (2020) Tourism statistics – nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments “In 2020 compared with 2019, 1.5 billion less nights (-52 %) were spent in EU tourist accommodation”. The reduction of nights spent is significant in participating countries with reduction percentages in nights spent at tourist accommodation (BG -53,1%, GR -55,8%, IT -68,5%, CY -76,1%, RO -60,3%). The tourism ecosystem covers a wide range of activities including: travel, transport, hotels, food, culture and contributes around the 10% of EU GDP (COM/2020/550 final.) and is particularly crucial for the participating countries, in which tourism sector contributes significantly in the GDP. Globally, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) the Covid crisis impacted on 2020 with a loss of 60 to 80% compared to the 2019, and this create new challenges for the European framework for tourism Europe, the world’s No. 1 tourist destination (COM(2010) 352 final).
An opportunity is offered – according to Eurostat (2020) – in domestic tourism, increased despite the crisis in Slovenia, Malta, and Cyprus. Domestic and proximity tourism represent an opportunity also for the achievement of sustainable and green goals related to the European Green Deal, with a special mention to the relaunch the proximity tourism and valorization of rural areas, which implies briefer and greener trips. Culinary tourism plays an important role in attracting people toward rural areas, and a modernization and valorization processes of food production and transformation companies is needed in order to impact positively on businesses, in line with “the Farm to Fork Strategy: for a fair healthy and environmentally” COM/2020/381 final at the core of the European Green Deal will encourage food security, sustainable food production, shift to healthy and sustainable diet, combating food frauds, and the promotion of sustainable diets (EUR-Lex – 52020DC0381 – EN – EUR-Lex ( According to the World Food Travel Association, food and beverage expenses account for 15 to 35% of all tourism spending, contributing in the performance of rural area businesses (2017). And also, important reviewers have introduce much frequently aspects related to sustainability in their procedures, for example, The Michelin Guide introduced for 2021 the Green Star, awarding sustainable and green restaurants.
The main target groups of our project are HoReCa SMEs and professionals in rural areas, VET centers and trainers. 
The ecological transformation and the priorities set by the European Green Deal can represent an important framework for the promotion of proximity, culinary and ecological tourism in the European Area. Anyhow, companies and workforce in rural areas and isolated places can access to dedicated trainings with more difficulty due to the distance and the lack of personalized content, really based on the needs and peculiarities at local level. Their limited access to dedicated training impacts also negatively on the economic performance, which represent an important resource, also for the employment of the population. Moreover, quantitative for needs analysis, whose goal is to collect data on big samples, rarely understand the specific peculiarities in rural areas, where the total number of HoReCa SMEs may be very limited. Our project will dedicate one project result in producing a Qualitative Needs Analysis Methodology suitable for understanding deeply the needs of the target groups in a tailor based banner, the needs analysis will be projected to be replicable, allowing experts and researchers to gather additional data.

Our project have the goals of favoring culinary and proximity tourism through a set of flexible and digital results, translated in 7 languages (EN, IT, RO, BG, FR, TR, GR)
1. Qualitative Needs Analysis for SMEs and NGOs involved in the promotion of the local territory through culinary and proximity tourism
2. The Digital Course for the empowerment of culinary and proximity tourism
3. International Open Network for Culinary and proximity Tourism

The partnership will provide a flexible set of tools for supporting HoReCa SMEs in rural areas in increasing their capacity to favor Culinary and Proximity Tourism, according to rules and guidelines of the European Green Deal, through the provision of flexible VET courses in line with their needs, overcoming main barriers for the continuous access and engagement of these businesses in their continuous VET education. HoReCa SMEs in rural areas will benefit moreover of an international network for the promotion of culinary and proximity tourism, favoring an increased awareness of European Issues related to proximity, culinary and sustainable tourism.
Moreover, we want to provide these tools to VET centers in order to stimulate them in replicating courses in culinary and proximity tourism, which will be supported by the provision of flexible VET digital materials, a model for the needs analysis, a clear definition of competences under ECVET for competences related to culinary and proximity tourism.

Specifically, the partners will:
1. be able to provide VET courses in the field of culinary and proximity tourism
2. be able to support the population living in rural areas
3. contribute in achieving their mission, which include relevant aspects of the project: the promotion of ecological attitudes and behaviour, the promotion of sustainable tourism,
4. improve their network through effective cooperation with partners, associated partners, members target groups, organisations adopting the project’s results, companies in the field of tourism and associated partners
5. improve their linguistic competences through an international cooperation
6. increase their level of internationalization, through the implementation of activities in foreign countries
7. improve their research competences in qualitative analysis, culinary and proximity tourism promotion

The “European Network for the Promotion of Culinary and Proximity Tourism
in Rural Areas” is run by eight international partners, from seven countries
of Southern Europe. The partnership involves public and private institutions
actively working in the field of education, local and professional development,
and tourism.
The partnership is led by the Pôle Métropolitain pour L’Entrepreneuriat “Le
Carburateur” in France and includes the following other partners: