For the prologue, a workshop on tourism recovery through macro-regional cooperation
IZOLA, 14 September - A workshop on the tourism recovery through cooperation and with a macro-regional approach, held as a virtual event in the coastal town Izola, was a successful prologue to tomorrow's opening ceremony of the »Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2020«. This is the first umbrella event of Slovenia at the European level, since taking over EUSAIR Presidency on 1 June 2020 for a period of one year – which is the first time since the establishment of EUSAIR in 2014.
In addition to four of its Member States from the area of this macro-region (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia), the EU has attracted additional four potential candidates for the Membership to form and implement EUSAIR (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia). Subsequently North Macedonia joined as well in this year, proving the attractiveness of the Strategy to the »outside world«. Among the four Thematic Pillars of the Strategy (1. Blue Growth, 2. Connecting the region, 3. Environmental Quality, 4. Sustainable Tourism), Slovenia is coordinating the 3rd one with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, Slovenia is also chairing the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative in this presidency period.
It therefore goes without saying, that the Slovenian Presidency of EUSAIR in the period 2020/21 will focus mainly on green connectivity with a priority emphasis on the quality of life on the shores of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Progress in this regard can be achieved mainly through concrete steps and the implementation of regimes, based on ecosystem services for coastal and marine areas, as well as of the entire Adriatic-Ionian region. The green footprint must therefore also reflect recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The importance of coordinated preparation of spatial plans at all levels - strategic, national, regional and municipal - should be emphasized. From this point of view, the systematic exchange of experience and the creation of synergies between all four EU Macro-regional Strategies is invaluable. Slovenia is a bit privileged in this respect, as, with the exception of the Baltic, it is included in all of the other three Strategies: Alpine, Adriatic-Ionian and Danube. The Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week is a traditional annual event widely opening the door to the exchange of information on the achievements, experiences and project activities of all four macro-regions.
Continuing the accession process of the Western Balkan countries to the EU is the second priority of the Slovenian Presidency. EUSAIR namely offers a unique basis for implementing the Green Deal in this area as well. An important circumstance in this respect is that Slovenia also operates a strategic project EUSAIR Facility Point. During its Presidency, Slovenia will also pay due attention to the EUSAIR governance structures and will continue to strive for enhanced and competent communication with all partners and stakeholders, including youth.
Without this, it is not possible to ensure the desired visibility and impact of the Strategy and its results in public. The efforts are to the point, if the countries of the EUSAIR area join forces with the European Commission and thus secure the much-needed mresources for the implementation of strategic macro-regional activities by placing them in the EU's cohesion and pre-accession programs for the period 2021-2027.
Difficult recovery of tourism
Slovenian presidency of EUSAIR was strongly marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is no coincidence that today's introduction into Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2020 was dedicated to the issue of tourism recovery through cooperation with a macro-regional approach. All four Macro-regional Strategies offer plenty of opportunities to exchange good practices and experiences. The EU has recently launched an initiative to assess the efforts to »revitalize participatory tourism«, which are implemented by key tourism actors in all four macro-regions.
Around 50 workshop participants from all four EU macro-regions was, on behalf of the Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2020 hosts, first welcomed by Andreja Jerina, Slovenian National Coordinator of Macro-regional Strategies, who wished them all a successful work within the next days. The course of the workshop was skilfully and pleasantly led and directed by Johan Magnusson (Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission).
His colleagues Ramune Genzbigelyte (EU tourism towards sustainable recovery), Joanna Mouliou (Tourism Interreg investments in the upcoming programming period 2021-2027 - with emphasis on Policy Objective 1: "a smarter Europe") and Georgis Drakopoulos (Impact assessment analysis of Covid-19 on tourism and recovery through cooperation in the EU macro-regions) have comprehensively illuminated and documented the issue.
In the continuation of the event, the following speakers were discussing the situation in tourism after the pandemic, the needs and opportunities in their macro-regions: Andrea Krabbe (Baltic), Irina Cozme (Danube), Francois Boissac (Alpine) and Blanka Belošević (Adriatic-Ionian). Jean-Pierre Halkin, also an official of the European Commission, summed up the findings and proposals of the workshop, which should be the basis for drafting a Declaration on cooperation in tourism with guidelines for programming priorities for sustainable tourism development. The Declaration will be presented next month, on 14 October 2020, during the »European Week of Regions and Cities«.
More detailed information can be found here, but as an appetizer let me share the concluding point of today's event:
»We shall not focus on an illusion that we will ever live in a world without crisis. It will always come, one way or another. We have to live despite it, learn to live with the crisis of any kind and efficiently prepare for them. We need to protect tourism, make it more resilient, as it is one of top contributors to our economies.«
Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2020 under #SloPresidencyEUSAIR begun with the 1st step towards Tourism recovery through cooperation - a macro-regional approach to form strong political messages. Today, all four macro-regional strategies stand united with the support of the European Commission, DG REGIO and DG GROW as well as EUSAIR Facility Point, shared their experiences, presented their solutions and built on this precious kind of collaboration.
Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2020 will officially start tomorrow, on 15 September at 12 o'clock in the Mazioli Palace in the old town of Izola. A press conference will be held right before the main event in the same venue. This will be followed by two parallel virtual events:
- 3rd Meeting of the Chairpersons of the National Coordinators Groups of all four EU Macro-regional Strategies and the European Commission, and
- Online Workshop on Green Infrastructure.