CROCUS Project to Address Socio-Economic Challenges in Rural and Remote Areas through Cultural and Creative Tourism

FRONT programme´s researchers from University of Oulu attended the Kick off meeting of CROCUS project from April 22 to 24, 2024, at Aalborg University.

The CROCUS project is funded by Horizon Europe 2024-2027 project and stands for "Cultural and Creative Tourism in Rural and Remote Areas: Sustainable Business Models, Cooperation, and Policies," and it aims to address socio-economic challenges faced by rural and remote areas (RRA) through the promotion of cultural and creative tourism (CCT). FRONT joining the CROCUS consortium was a very natural co-operation since RRA and CCT are strongly connected to one of FRONT´s main themes: regional resilience.

Rural remote areas (RRA) are rich in cultural heritage, yet many suffer from socio-economic issues

Rural and remote areas are rich in cultural heritage, yet many suffer from socio-economic issues such as an ageing population, out-migration, and low incomes. These issues have a major impact on regional resilience in the future. Cultural and creative tourism has the potential to alleviate these challenges by creating employment, especially for the youth, and investment and business opportunities.

According to the project consortium, the following three key challenges and associated knowledge gaps must be overcome:

  1. Place-Specific Business Models: Different types of cultural heritage and community needs require tailored business models.
  2. Balanced and Sustainable Tourism Development: Tourism growth must be managed to ensure it is sustainable and benefits local communities.
  3. Supportive Policies: Policies at different scales should facilitate cooperation between RRA.

The project establishes eight cross-border living labs to prototype sustainable CCT business model and develops macro-regional and cross-border policy scenarios for four EU macro-regions. CROCUS aims to synthesize knowledge and experience to create tools and resources for RRA across Europe.

Leading scholars and practitioners cooperating in cross-border tourism development, stakeholder engagement, and policy analysis for sustainable business model prototyping

The project features a multi-scalar research design, innovative cross-border living labs, and participatory processes for sustainable business model prototyping. The consortium includes leading scholars and practitioners with extensive experience in cross-border tourism development, stakeholder engagement, and policy analysis. CROCUS represents the first systematic study of cross-border CCT cooperation in RRA.

Henrik Halkier, Project Coordinator and Professor at the Department of Culture and Learning, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Aalborg, expressed his enthusiasm for the project's potential impact, stating,

"The kick-off meeting marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards revitalizing rural areas through cultural and creative tourism. With the collective expertise and dedication of our partners, we are poised to drive positive change and create lasting benefits for these communities."

Looking ahead, the CROCUS project will embark on a series of activities aimed at generating knowledge, developing innovative business models, and formulating policy recommendations to support sustainable tourism development in RRAs. Through collaborative efforts and interdisciplinary approaches, the project aims to unlock the untapped potential of cultural heritage as a driver of economic growth and social cohesion in rural and remote areas across Europe.

CROCUS is coordinated by the University of Aalborg and involves ten countries, including Italy (University of Bergamo), the Netherlands (Association for Tourism and Leisure), Slovenia (University of Maribor), Finland (University of Oulu), Bulgaria (Zangandor Research Institute), Croatia (University of Rijeka), Estonia (University of Tallinn), Spain (Foundation Society and Culture), and Hungary (University of Pannonia).

Read more about CROCUS project here.

Last updated: 29.4.2024