SILC / BSB 570
(Silc Road Local Culture)
Transnational cooperation lies on the understanding that the combination of efforts, resources and strengths could lead to the achievement of outcomes, which could not be reached by the independent actions of the nation – states. At the crossroads of ancient civilizations, the Black Sea Basin, as well as the project study area, have a rich and diverse cultural heritage that needs to be preserved. Several tangible and intangible cultural assets have been listed as the heritage of humanity and the plethora of cultural variety offers considerable opportunities for tourism development and cooperation.
The revival of the historic Silk Road encompasses and encourages the creation of new tourism flows of independent travelers seeking to experience diverse cultures and alternative forms of tourism, detouring from the mass-tourism scheme. The EU, and more specifically the Eurozone area, is by far the most significant economic partner of the Black Sea region countries. EU Member States are key trade partners and the principal source of financing and foreign direct investment (FDI) for most Black Sea countries.
Tourism potential in the Black Sea Basin area is rich and diversified. Even though there is lack of comprehensive regional data, it appears that the number of international visitors to the Black Sea region has been increased. Over the past decades tourism has become one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world and is expected to increase considerably in the coming years, characterized by continuous spatial expansion and product diversification. The implementation of SILC project will provide considerable support to the development of new cultural tourism products, and as a result complementarities in regional cooperation may be generated and a territorial challenge could be solved.
On the other hand, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Black Sea region represent the vast majority of enterprises, playing an important role as key engine for economic growth. There is still potential for SME’s growth and the aim of this project is to provide the opportunity for small and medium enterprises and young entrepreneurs to create, develop and boost their existing activities. Also SILCNECT network and SILCNECT Label will launch new collaborations. In fact SILC project will be the incubator for new entrepreneurial opportunities. The support to entrepreneurship development and skills upgrading, as well as to technology diffusion and SME’s access to international markets, could tackle down a second territorial challenge. That will be promoted mainly by training activities and pilot implementation.
By involving partners from five countries (Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria), three Universities (Greece, Armenia, Bulgaria), one NGO (Romania), and an Institute (Georgia), SILC project aims to strengthen and diversify the tourism offer of Silk Road destinations within the study areas, as well as enhance regional cooperation and cross-border partnerships. Additionally, with this broad and diverse collaboration and synergy among five countries, the project will provide a substantial added value contributing to the achievement of the CBC impact by completing the program objectives in a sustainable way.
Silk Road local cultures can be used as anchor points for the development of local cultural and tourism entrepreneurial activities, through the creation of culture and tourism networks by encouraging synergies, networking and connectivity between tourist and cultural stakeholders. The aim of the SILC project is to develop such networks and empower local entrepreneurship in order to utilize the positive economic impacts and other externalities. Moreover it aims to share experience and/or develop jointly targeted tourism products and services to jointly promote cultural products, while addressing the development of cross-border tourism products and transnational thematic itineraries through the diversification of the tourism product that Silk Road destinations offer within the project study areas.
Additionally, SILC project aims to tackle common challenges identified in the project regions and to exploit the untapped growth potential, while enhancing the cooperation process for the purposes of the overall harmonious cultural development of the project study areas, as well as enhance the openness of these areas to European and international tourism. The project contributes to attaining the objectives of the Black Sea programme by mobilizing people, communities and economies along the cross-border study area in order to develop joint projects of cross-border cooperation, by using the resources of all participating countries. The project strategy aims to create a common framework, a common vision for a territory that has common Silk Road cultural heritage characteristics and challenges.
Programme priority specific objective
Jointly promote business and entrepreneurship in the tourism and cultural sectors
Project Overall Objective
The overall objective of SILC – Silk Road Local Culture project is to promote economic and social development throughout the Black Sea Zone and reinforce the tourism development and cooperation of tourism entrepreneurship related to the Silk Road heritage. The core axis around which the project’s actions will be deployed, is the creation of a Tourism Intelligence on the Silk Road cultural heritage located within the project study areas, and the evaluation of the potential of the Silk Road cultural footprint over the eligible Regions for tourism growth, interregional cooperation and cross-border partnerships.
Project specific objectives
Mapping and cultural footprint of the Silk Road
Establishment of a cross-border, interregional network of local culture and tourism entrepreneurship
Sustainability and Transferability Of Main Outputs and Results
Sustainability of SILC Project outputs and results is crucial for ensuring interregional impact and long-term benefits after the project end in order to reach the project overall long-term objectives. Therefore, SILC Project partnership ensures that outputs obtained and results achieved are durable and suitable for continuation after project closure.
In order to achieve sustainability, SILC Project Quality Assurance Working Group is going to initially adopt, a long-term, holistic strategy which leads to desired results for the target groups over an extended period by formulating Sustainability Guidelines.
Silk Road Local Culture – SILC establishes specific structures that will continue to operate after the completion of the project. These structures include:
1) The Silk Road Monitoring System, which consists the development of a geo-location / smart apps and a sustainable monitoring system, aiming to record information regarding Silk Road cultural and tourism entrepreneurship, at local and interregional level. The geo-location / smart apps will collect all identified cultural and natural heritage sites and tourism amenities-infrastructures around the Silk Road cultural footprint that will be spotted on an open access interactive map.
2) The creation of a Silk Road Entrepreneurship Network, an interregional network for promoting cross- border business opportunities in the tourism and cultural sectors, by developing and implementing a joint strategic marketing plan promoting Silk Road cultural and tourism entrepreneurial initiatives. Networking will be provided through an on-line platform that will be available and easy to replicate also in other areas (thus justifying the sustainability and transferability of results, also presented in networking events). All the above will be consolidated under the Silk Road Virtual Observatory.
3) Silk Road Quality Assurance Guide, which consists the development and promotion of a quality assurance model for cultural and tourism entrepreneurship on the Silk Road local cultures, by incorporating the baseline study results.
4) During SILK project the SILCNCECT label will be created. It will be a transnational label with capacity that will ensure project’s sustainability. In parallel, with the training activities and pilot implementation will materialise formed connections towards culture and tourism sectors and SILC entrepreneurs. This procedure will have a direct impact on the sustainability of the scheme through the signing of agreements with the long-standing agreement.
5) The Memorandum of Cooperation (translated in all languages of participate countries), signed by stakeholders and public local authorities of participating areas, will continue to be in use after the project’s completion due to its visibility through the project’s website. As this project assumes the active involvement of only five countries of BSB, then in the future similar project activities can be conducted with the participation of other countries for the continuation of a project’s goals, principles, and efforts to achieve desired outcomes. So that opportunities created by one economic development initiative can be taken up by another, complementary initiative. It should be noted that tourism intelligence management will be driven by the beneficiaries upon agreement on the principles of ownership of knowledge, protection of knowledge use and dissemination, access rights. All aspects related to confidentiality, ownership of results, pre-existing know-how, patent rights and commercial exploitation of results as well as regular updates of the Virtual Observatory will be regulated by the Consortium Agreement.
Historically, the Silk Road served as a bridge between East and West, uniting different cultures along its routes. Nowadays, the historic Silk Road revives again as an up-and-coming cultural tourism destination, engaging numerous countries, with rich natural and cultural heritage. Silk Road tourism, as a special form of cultural tourism, can be thus used as a unique branding, marketing and development tool to further develop a wide variety of tourism policy goals.
Nowadays, the Silk Road is a rich tapestry of tourism destinations and products based on a unique and outstanding rich heritage, nature, and traditions of dozens of distinct histories, peoples and cultures, all along timeless routes now extending a warm welcome to visitors.
The SILC project sets to examine the existing usage of the Silk Road identity across the project’s study areas, to highlight destination-based Silk Road experiences, audit connections and linkages through tangible and intangible cultural heritage in BSB key destinations, reveal “hidden” resources directly or indirectly related to the Silk Road and develop concepts, so as to strengthen the use of the Silk Road Brand to bring the expected benefits. Such benefits, as defined by UNWTO (2016) are, the capacities’ reinforcement of tourism stakeholders willing to explore new markets and to engage new partners, the combination of the available tourism assets to increase visitor length of stay, regional dispersal and yield across the country and the differentiation of the tourism offer. The project with its innovative survey and a baseline study with main focus on identifying, documenting and mapping the cultural footprint of Silk Road and its growth potential, will depict and discover the cultural footprint of the BSB Silk Road, as well as present the public with a Silk Road map to be utilized and further explored.
With the creation of the Silk Road Virtual Observatory aiming at monitoring at local and interregional level the untapped cultural heritage and relevant destinations, a new means of information for travelers as well as national/regional/local authorities will be introduced and will be available for further development. Moving along, the project with its entrepreneurial phase will establish cross-border networks, interregional cooperation and partnership’s organization to support Silk Road cultural tourism development.
Moreover, the project will create for the first time a Silk Road Entrepreneurship Label – SILCNECT label to be adopted by cross-border and along the Silk Road enterprises involved in tourism and cultural sector, so as to be certified as quality affiliates and collaborators of the SILC project. SILCNECT label with the open-access training material, its pilot procedure and webinars for its adoption will ensure the transferability of the results to similar actions and activities.
The project is designed to explore new tourism opportunities for the project’s area destinations and local tourism stakeholders interested in cross-border partnerships, and in developing novel products focused on untapped Silk Road heritage. All in all, the transferability of outputs and results will be maximised through the networks of the partners and mainly of the supporters and key stakeholders. Research institutions, cultural organisations, private/public authorities, SMEs will be brought together and transfer the results beyond the partnership area and scope.
Environmental sustainability is characterized as neutral. All projects funded in the frame of the BSB programme will have to integrate environmental considerations. This includes good environmental practices during implementation, in particular in relation to energy efficiency as well as in relation to the use of water, extraction from surface or ground water reserves and the production of waste, etc.
However due to the nature of interventions of SILC project it is estimated that it will not be necessary the elaborate of Environmental Impact Assessment.
Also in the proposed project there are not included any (positive) activities such as “development of environmentally friendly tourism strategies”. According to the Overall conclusions of the “Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process of the program”, it is concluded that the programme is not likely to have significant environmental effects in the regions eligible for the programme.
As a conclusion the main reasons which are identified as no negative effects are:
• The project includes “soft” type of interventions and no infrastructure are proposed
• No direct or cumulative effects on environment or the landscape are expected,
• No direct trans-boundary environmental effects are expected
• No risks to human health or the environment are expected
• No vulnerable areas will be directly affected.
Democracy and human rights
In regard to democracy it is estimated that the project will positively contribute to “enhanced cooperation among local and regional authorities, promotion of local and regional good governance and capacity-building components for local/regional authorities and agencies.
The project will “support to public administration reform and decentralization and local government”.
In addition, the project is expected to positively contribute to the following aspects of human rights:
• The right of citizens to employment and to economic initiatives through promotion of business and entrepreneurship
• Better access to education and improved opportunities for cultural exchange through upgrading skills, training young people and the promotion of cultural cooperation
Also in the activities of the proposed project are included exchange of good practices, as well as regular and transparent project financial reporting, widely circulated and understandable project results, ensuring there is no discrimination against particular target groups, whether the project helps to ensure respect for any relevant human rights.
The contribution to Gender equality is considered as neutral. Both men and women shall have equal access to the opportunities and benefits of the project.
The project has considered gender related issues which are equality of opportunity, rights, distribution of benefits, responsibilities for men and women.