The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 has built lasting legacies for cultural heritage through numerous key initiatives launched this year. Among such legacies, the Barcelona Declaration “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit” has enabled closer collaboration between the tourism and cultural heritage sectors.
Initiated by NECSTouR (Network of European Regions for a Sustainable and Competitive Tourism) in cooperation with Europa Nostra, the European Travel Commission (ETC), and European Cultural Tourism Network, the declaration aims to promote the positive potential of tourism in the field of cultural heritage and vice versa. The principles it outlines have been supported by European Heritage Alliance 3.3. and various European-level organisations.
With heritage and tourism being one of the key themes of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the declaration represents a major step towards achieving the long-term goals of the initiative. Through recommendations on developing sustainable cultural tourism, it promises to make a positive difference for European heritage.
The Principles of Barcelona Declaration
First presented in April at a NECSTour Workshop titled “Better Places to Live, Better Places to Visit,” the declaration summarised key actions and principles for achieving sustainability of cultural heritage. On this occasion, Patrick Torrent, President of NECSTouR, said:
“To build together a desired and well balanced destination, we claim for an holistic approach, involving all the new players in this discussion - such as the innovation players and the digital platforms – and all the stakeholders - private, public, academics from different related fields, and young people, as the future of the European destinations."
Recognising existing declarations and documents related to tourism and cultural heritage from European-level organisations, the declaration calls for the implementation of five key principles. The principles include:
- Smart and Inclusive Governance, inspired by the motto “What is good for residents is good for visitors”
- Adding Value to the Sense of Place, which foregrounds local citizens as “Residents are part of the cultural / tourism experience and the best ambassadors of their territory and identity”
- Using a Holistic Vision for Marketing and Preservation, which intends to help “Promote hidden cultural heritage while being prudent in promoting overexposed ones”
- Balancing Place People and Business, which focuses on enabling “Better measure to better manage“
- Connecting People to People, highlighting “Citizens’ and visitors’ search for new and transformative experiences”
Throughout the year, the declaration has been promoted at numerous events. On 21 June, an interactive workshop was organized with the focus on sharing examples of how tourism enables the development of social and cultural sustainability. The participants had an opportunity to learn more about the goals of the declaration and take an active part in helping raise awareness of its goals.
This October, the declaration was officially presented at NECTouR’s thematic conference at the Fundación Galicia Europa during Week of Regions and Cities. The event gathered a pan-European audience of experts in the fields of culture and tourism, which helped the declaration to gain an even broader support.
As noted at the event, Barcelona Declaration will remain open to supporters from various fields and organisations. This way, it will help unite stakeholders across Europe in achieving a shared goal of accelerating the development of both heritage and tourism sectors.
The full text of the declaration can be downloaded here. Supporters of the declaration can register on this page.