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How to increase the uptake of ICTs by the tourism industry in rural and mountain areas?

DANTE project organised its mid-term conference on Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Turin (Italy). Our lead partner, Province of Turin, welcomed DANTE partners and tourism operators, coming from all over Europe, to discuss how to use the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to boost the attractiveness of rural and mountain areas. The aim of the conference was to present the achievements of the project so far and to collect feedback from participants.

Tourism is the third largest socio-economic activity in Europe and ICT sector represents 6% of European GDP. These major economic sectors can be combined for the benefit of rural and mountain areas. “Thanks to the DANTE project, we have done a full screening of the best practices in our regions, but also in our foreign partners in all involved areas”, explained Marco Balagna, Assessor of Province of Turin and he added that “To develop tourism, we have now to use all these good practices and to expand these positive results in our territory”.

From observations on the ground to regional strategies

Three Italian journalists Silvia Lanza, press agent of Turismo Torino e Provincia, Claudio Cuccurullo, chief editor of “La Sentinella del Canavese” and Alberto Maranetto editor of “L’Eco del Chisone” shared their experiences about the use of Internet and social networks and how easily and quickly touristic operators can reach a large European-wide audience. “During the Carnaval in Ivrea, our website has an average of 4000 daily users, with a huge pic during the event itself” explained Claudio Cuccurullo. “The use of ICT in tourism can also be developed as a full regional strategy, as the Spanish region of Extremedura has done for twelve years”, explained Victor Piriz, Deputy Director of Fundecyt-PCTEX (Extremedura, Spain).

DANTE presents its light pilot to the public

University of Crete presented an overview of the 34 good practices collected by project partners and which can easily be transferred to other regions to boost tourism thanks to ICT. A manual guide was published and some thematic guidelines will be prepared to define opportunities for new innovative tools derived from these practices. In addition, some study visits will be organised between DANTE partners to help them to finalise the implementation plan of each partner region, to define its own digital tourism strategy for the following years.

The conference was also the occasion to present for the first time the light pilot which is being developed by CSI Piemonte to reinforce tourism in the mountain areas of the regions and, beyond, in other regions. A new web platform will gather several innovative modules such as a google interactive map and a weather application, a system to book and pay accommodations on-line, a community to allow direct interactions between users and exchanges of experiences for both tourists and operators.

European policies supporting digital and tourism strategies

These local experiences can be supported by several European programmes, such as the ICT and Tourism Initiative, the Digital Agenda or the new programming of EU funds for 2014-2020 (European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020, COSME…) as explained by Alexia Rouby, director of Euromontana or the new INTERREG Europe, as developed by Elena Ferrario, Project Officer Interreg IV C, JTS.

Conference participants discuss the policies and opportunities

Building on the results of the project, Elena di Bella, coordinator of the Dante project (Province of Turin) recommended the touristic operators:

          to be open: the tourist is active and can become a blog-journalist and give his/her opinion or send pictures or touristic information to the community

          To be in the event: a different language should be developed with a very high sensitivity of the answers to the demand of communication

          To be close: to interact with tourists and develop a language more close to emotions, more friendly and in real time than before

          And to be low cost: adapt solutions with almost zero costs for the touristic operators.

From the policy point of view, territories should develop three main policies:

          Spread the “culture of ICT welcome” by making an easier access to ICT in rural and mountain areas, thanks to trainings, professional users, updating information.

          Create “Smart and inclusive territories” by developing the access to broadband, infrastructures, open sources, wireless free access.

          Create a new system of dialogue for improving the quality of information: taking into account the users visions thanks to social networks or community networks.

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11 October 2013

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