Scientists will help attract tourists to less visited places

24. 11. 2022
Scientists will help municipalities and regions in the strategic planning of cultural tourism. Best practices from places in other countries where they solve similar challenges will also be an inspiration. The goal of the international project, which ends in December after three years, was to create a new approach to understanding and promoting cultural tourism. The experts also focused on supporting disadvantaged areas. The project, funded by the European Commission as part of the HORIZONT 2020 call, is coordinated by scientists from the Mendel University in Brno, and 15 universities and research institutes from Europe and Israel are involved.

The SPOT-IT interpretation model, which works on the basis of geographic information systems, is a tool for evaluating tourism at individual locations. “It includes a database of maps and information from different parts of the world and will evaluate what is most suitable for a specific area if we want to use it for the development of cultural tourism,” explained Milada Šťastná from the Institute of Applied and Landscape Ecology of the Faculty of Agriculture at MENDELU. The program was created and tested on data from a case study in Israel and adapted to the specifics of the partner countries.

The aim is to contribute to the sustainable development of cultural tourism, which takes into account the interests of several parties, including, for example, peripheral areas. “It will make it possible to design strategies for the establishment, promotion and marketing of new and existing attractions based on best practices from places in different regions with similar conditions,” explained Šťastná. It is intended primarily for mayors of municipalities, representatives of the state administration or employees of destination management, i.e. for users in decision-making positions who deal with the issue. “Last but not least, it will also make it possible to reveal the potential of the territory for the development of tourism, that is, to present not only localities that have already gained attractiveness within the framework of cultural tourism, but also those that have not yet been discovered,” explained Šťastná.

The scientific team therefore also focused on the possibilities of using the potential of rural areas. “SPOT-IT will help propose how to make a specific area more attractive so that it is sustainable, even though these places are not primarily visited for culture. My motivation was to point out the landscape as a cultural heritage, because most residents do not perceive it that way, despite the fact that it is always connected with a story and has its own history,” emphasized Šťastná.

The tourism-oriented project was also affected by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers therefore took advantage of the unique opportunity to monitor the development and gradual recovery of the tourism industry during and after the end of the pandemic. “It was clearly confirmed that people rediscovered the beauty and benefits of local places, they visited rural areas and natural monuments in particular, and even after the end of the covid measures, this form of tourism is still attractive and widely used,” the scientist highlighted.

Although there is no uniform definition of cultural tourism, the cultural aspect is of fundamental importance for tourists. “Cultural tourism is understood as the movement of people to places that have a cultural overlap. It can be ordinary visits to museums and castles, but also visits to places where cultural events take place, or places connected with a story, for instance a TV series, film or history,” outlined Šťastná. Cultural tourism also includes visits to folklore festivals or wine tastings.

The new tool will further support and research the tourism industry using advanced technologies such as geospatial artificial intelligence and machine learning. “It is being piloted and improved so that it can be spread. It will enable gaps and barriers to be systematically identified in localities interested in the development of cultural tourism, and the development potential of the given cultural heritage to be evaluated,” added the scientist.

Contact for more information: prof. Dr. Ing. Milada Šťastná, +420 606 580 412,, Department of Applied and Landscape Ecology, MENDELU Faculty of AgriSciences

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