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European Research NEtwork on Sustainable Tourism

Final Report Summary - ERNEST (European Research NEtwork on Sustainable Tourism)

Executive Summary:
ERNEST project started in September 2008 and was a 48-month project. It concentrates on the issue of sustainability of tourism, coupled with the idea that the circular chain "research - innovation - regional development policies" is main strategic axis for achieving truly sustainable and competitive tourism.
The time horizon of the research (the "investment return" in research) is the medium- to long-term and the connection between the research carried out in various areas and territories increases the marginal productivities of these activities.
In this framework, the main objective of the project was to develop and strengthen a framework for the coordination of sustainable tourism research programmes and to bridge the gaps existing in research in the 14 different regions involved in the action, and to establish a long term strategy on sustainable tourism with the final objective to investigate protection and prevention measures capable to maintain the beauty and experience of European destinations for the generation of travellers to come.

Sharing research and experience is the key to pushing forward with sustainable tourism. Some partners had long-established research programmes. Others, despite experience in sustainable tourism, were working at the implementation of a formal research programme. ERNEST action allowed partners to learn from one another and discover new research and initiatives that were not present in their own regions, bring the actors together at a local, regional and interregional level, and encourage them to exchange ideas and experiences in order to coordinate and add value to their individual activities.

The overall strategic objective of the ERNEST project was to develop and strengthen a framework for the coordination of regional research programmes on sustainable tourism. This was done through the construction of "immaterial scaffolding structures" for the sharing and coordination of regional policies for research in tourism.
The idea at the basis of ERNEST was, given the sustainability needs, and the fragmentation of research on these issues, to use the regional resources and the experience available in the consortium to build on research work already underway at regional level, making it more productive through exchange & joint activities, and develop a framework for coordinating regional research programmes.

In order to achieve its objectives, ERNEST work progressed through seven Work Packages. WP1 and WP7 worked on the project management, monitoring, evaluation, scientific coordination and reporting. WP2 dealt with the exchange of information and knowledge on structure and research programmes and identified within the research programmes elements related to social dialogue and measurement of tourism impact. On the basis of the work carried out in WP2, WP3 allowed the definition / preparation / implementation of joint activities, which were carried out roughly until the end of the project. WP4 launched the first joint call for interregional Collaborative Research Projects (CRPs) in the research area “Sustainable tourism”
Finally, WP5 coordinated the communication and dissemination activities, and WP6 allowed to include three new partners in the consortium in the first part, and established ERNEST as an open network of sustainable tourism research in the second part, encouraging the participation of potential partners or collaborating regions.

For the development and strengthening of this framework, the regions have shared knowledge on sustainable tourism programmes and research within the ERNEST platform, and have worked together with joint actions in order to make these programmes and research more productive and efficient through exchange of experiences and through the planning and implementation of joint actions.

Coordination, knowledge, sharing, participation, joint activities, experimentation, long-term vision: these are the keywords summarizing the actions of the project and through which it is possible – according to the results of the ERNEST project - to promote sustainable and competitive tourism.

Project Context and Objectives:
The conjugation of sustainability and competitiveness in the tourist sector, and the innovation of tourism through research, are important, current themes for the future of European tourist destinations. All regions participating in the ERNEST (European Research Network on Sustainable Tourism) project recognise tourism and its related services and production as one of the fundamentals of their economic system. However, they also recognise the need to promote this economic sector without causing irreparable damage to the natural and cultural heritage and environment.
In this framework competitiveness and sustainability are very closely related to the innovative processes arising from research. The ERNEST project addressed the issue of sustainable development of tourism through coordination and collaboration among regional research programmes and through increased coordination between regional research programmes across the EU Member States. It worked towards promoting and rendering more efficient research programmes on this theme, bringing in elements of success from other areas, and coordinating joint, concrete actions which increase the value and potential impact of the actions.

The project partnership is composed by the following partners (9 countries represented):

1. Regione Toscana
2. Cité de la Culture et du Tourisme Durable
3. Basquetour (Basque Government - Industry, Commerce and Tourism Department) - Basque Region
4. Prefecture of Ilia (in 2012 substituted by the Development company of Western Greece)
5. South-East Regional Development Agency
6. Govern de les Illes Balears
7. Regional Development Agency of North Hungary (NORDA)
8. South West Tourism (which, due to the demise of regional governments in the UK, ceased its participation in Ernest on 28.02.2011)
9. Danish Forest and Nature Agency, Nord Zealand
10. Generalitat de Catalunya
11. Conseil Régional d’Aquitaine
12. Regione Emilia Romagna
13. Agency for the Support of Regional Development Košice
14. Regione del Veneto
15. Welsh Assembly Government -Visit Wales

The last three, constituting the partnership enlargement and resulting from activities carried out from partners to identify and attract new partners, were added as from 1st October 2009.

The specific objectives were the following:
• To identify and exchange information and knowledge on research programmes that regions wish to coordinate;
• To identify within the research programmes elements related to social dialogue (participative processes for programming including all relevant stakeholders) and measurement of tourism impact;
• To define and prepare joint research activities on tourism research;
• To implement joint activities in these fields according to common needs, particularly concentrating on training, exchange and evaluation at an interregional level;
• To fund joint interregional research on sustainable tourism through joint calls;
• To promote productive cooperation and collaboration in research both in terms of interregional cooperation and cooperation at regional level, including public private partnerships;
• To allow partners to define together long-term and ambitious strategies in line with the European Union policy of sustainable development that each region could not easily reach on its own.

Project Results:
The ERNEST project has represented a positive experience in a complex field since it reached its objectives to exchange information and to cooperate and it developed, implemented and funded joint activities. The exchange and common work helped the partners to gain a wider perspective, learn from one another, and to increase efforts and concrete measures to overcome the problem of fragmentation in the cross cutting research field of sustainable tourism. The joint call experience in particular promoted a real cooperation between research programmes of 4 participating organizations.
15 partners from 9 countries worked together at this cooperation and joint programming beyond regional boundaries, focusing on virtual visits & evaluation to increase the capitalization and exchange of good practices, innovative support tools beyond classical research, integration in the local/regional strategies and social dialogue.
ERNEST offered a good framework for cooperation, and the possibility to match, meet, carry out common actions. The knowledge exchange within ERNEST has been important: the partners can capitalize the project results and use the knowledge acquired for improving the own measures on sustainable tourism.
The partners have made efforts in the collation of experiences around sustainable tourism, and during these four years, the resulting data bank (almost 80 good practices are contained in the ERNEST/NETJAC on line tool) is distinguishable and promising for research in sustainable tourism, and also shows innumerable practical examples with full details, contacts and analysis .
The project incorporated a wide network of stakeholder from different sectors, which were not always habitually used to work together (for instance, public administrations and universities are not used to cooperating on a stable basis as they have different organizational frameworks, while this project offered them a platform for cooperating).
The Joint Call was an important experiment of trans-regional and trans-national funding of research into sustainable tourism, 7 consortia were financed. The implementation of the call offered to the participants, and to the ERNEST consortium in general, new insight into sustainable tourism research funding, which led to the establishment of new structural support measures.
The outcomes described in this Report are the result of the successful implementation of the work plan.

This section provides a brief summary of the results from WPs 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. A more detailed description of the results and deliverables is available in the Progress Periodic reports.

Information Exchange (WP2)
The work carried out in Information Exchange Work Package, was based on dialogue between project partners regarding their regional policies, strategies, programmes, and laid the basis for identifying, defining and implementing joint activities.

All ERNEST partners were requested to provide information about their regional profiles, the tourism sector, research policy and priorities concerning sustainable tourism, good practices, measurement of tourist data, and existing sustainable tourism programmes. The mapping was done also keeping contacts with the regional stakeholders. The mapping of regional research policies and programmes was done taking into account the broad and cross-cutting issue of sustainability of tourism, and specifically referring to actions and programmes related to the 10 strategic sustainable tourism research areas identified for analysis during the ERNEST project:
• Impact of transport
• Residents’ quality of life
• Quality of work
• Widening the geographical and seasonal tourism offer
• Active conservation of cultural heritage
• Active conservation of environmental heritage
• Active conservation of distinctive identities of destinations
• Reduction and optimization of natural resource use
• Reduction and optimization of energy consumption
• Reduction of waste and better waste management
The result was a report composed of two parts:
the mapping of regional policies, strategies, programmes & capabilities (deliverable 2.1) was created to provide a description and a simplified statistical/graphical representation of the data collected from all Partners of the ERNEST Consortium. The mapping was the result of an electronic survey application designed to address and query each ERNEST Partner about its strategic research areas, general regional attributes (e.g. regional population, industrialization, etc.) research areas in sustainable tourism development, as well as regional research policy and a detailed analysis of regional programmes applicable in the scope of sustainable tourism development.
A second survey followed, Deliverable 2.2 that contained the interregional comparison of general information about the regional tourism sector and sustainable tourism programmes mapped in deliverable 2.1 including constraints and solutions to further cooperation (good practices, obstacles and lessons learned). The work done within WP2 from one side shows the common points, from the other it confirms the existence of different organizatory frameworks, fragmentation and different evaluation scale for the same measurements. In relation to this second aspect, the benchmarking analysis provides an immediate representation also about its methodological difficulties. These represent a challenge for the European research system in which Ernest has tried to give some answers.
The work carried out in this WP laid the basis for identifying, defining and implementing joint actions in WP3.

Definition / preparation / implementation of joint activities (WP3)
Regarding WP3 eight inter-linked activities were defined, planned and implemented during the lifespan of the ERNEST project:

1. Experience exchange
2. Study visits
3. Import-export of good practices
4. Setting up a common method for communication and participation
5. Indicators/capacity building
6. Cooperation with universities and research centers
7. Preparatory actions of the joint call
8. Workshop with research centers

In order to facilitate experience exchanges (Action 1) and cooperation between all the ERNEST partners, research centres and universities, a database consultation tool called NETJAC (NETworking Tool for Joint Activities) was elaborated. The ERNEST partners are able to enter, upload and consult good practices (GP) and research programs (RP) on this online platform. The database isn’t a mere presentation of experiences but it provides in-depth data of the projects, so to facilitate mutual learning and the prospective import of these experiences in their territory. The platform is available in the ERA NET site, ‘good practices’ section (www.ernest.eu).
To summarize, ERNEST-NETJAC is a multi-criteria search engine which is:
• an exchange tool;
• a selection and promotion system of good practices;
• a discovery and analysis system of these experiences;
• a database where good practices and research programs (R&D) on sustainable tourism can be highlighted and can also feed other databases

ERNEST- NETJAC is primarily focused on facilitating joint activities, via:
1. Good practices searchable and “highlightable”
2. Comments, online dialogues, chats of partners and visitors.
3. A way to extract and enhance the most “virtuous” experiences, via ratings, online virtual visits, study visits. NETJAC automatically evaluates the good practices to split them into three different categories represented by leaves (regarding their capacity to fulfill ERNEST and WTO criteria).
4. A discovery and analysis system of these experiences

Up to the end of the project’s third period 72 good practices and 6 research programs were uploaded on NETJAC by the project partners. Each good practice covered one or more themes. Six mains themes were identified with the aim to divided the Good Practices in clusters for better understanding and dissemination purposes:
1. Reduction of environmental impacts
2. Quality of life, quality of work
3. Valorization of local heritage and identities
4. Energy saving
5. Soft Transport
6. Measurement, indicators, management models

Depending on the predominant theme, Good Practice are divided as follows:
• 13 GP are included in the cluster related the “Reduction of environmental impacts” (18,06% of total)
• 11 GP are included in the cluster related the “Quality of life, quality of work” (15,28% of total)
• 25 GP are included in the cluster related the “Valorization of local heritage and identities” (34,72% of total)
• 10 GP are included in the cluster related the “Energy saving” (13,89% of total)
• 5 GP are included in the cluster related the “Soft Transport” (6,94% of total)
• 8 GP are included in the cluster related the “Measurement, indicators, management model” (11,11% of total)

Tab. GPs thematic distribution


The Action 2 deals with the study visits. Study visits were useful to fully understand the local good practices or research programs on site. This action was aimed to meet the key actors and to see how good practices were implemented.
There were two kinds of study visits, which depended on the GP notation through NETJAC :

• Study visits on-site: organized by the “owner” of the good practice. Study visits on-site have been done in conjunction with the project meetings, or othe regional or interregional sustainable tourism events, one was agreed between the interested partners (SERDA and RT – see below). Several study visits were organized during the project life.
• Virtual study visits : In total there are on NETJAC 11 multimedia good practices, i.e. G.P. with video support, of which 10 have YouTube videos and 1 has a ‘virtual visit’ video. This undoubtedly adds appeal and completeness to the G.P.
Action 1 and 2 had the aim to lay the basis for the 3 Action: “import/export of GP”. Some partners commented that, although it was really useful and functional to know about the good practices of the other regions, and the knowledge exchanged allowed to improve own measures, the actual transfer of the activity into their own context in most cases reveals obstacles and constraints of a legal or administrative nature, or connected to time.
One good practice transfer was performed within ERNEST, from Regione Toscana to SERDA; the latter studied one of the Regione Toscana good practices via NETJAC and decided to transfer it on its own territory. They contacted each other and prepared together the transfer implementation: a series of meetings was then organized between Tuscany and SERDA, and between the GP managers and INCTD, the Romanian organization interested in importing. In the autumn of 2011 a study visit was organized in Tuscany for the interested representatives from the South East of Romania.
The Action 4 was developed as an output of activities carried out within WP5. ERNEST partner developed a method which consisted of performing a mapping of all the stakeholder and then keeping contacts with these stakeholder as appropriate during the lifespan of the ERNEST project (details are contained in the WP5 deliverables). This allowed to disseminate the information about ERNEST and its results and also in many project stages allowed to receive feedback and orientate actions in the planning. Hopefully this intense exchange, in some cases done with organizations which were not habitual partners (classic example of this are the universities, not always used to cooperating with the regions and local authorities) , will lead to continuing cooperation with the selected organization also after the project ends.

In the last period of the project, an important work on indicators has been done (Action 5). The aim was to identify and exchange good practices in indicator related work and build capacity around the use and application of these indicators with the ERNEST partners and beyond to all European territories.
Action 5 has been developed through the following phases:

1. Develop of an indicator section on NETJAC to identify and collate good practice examples and tools structured by macro (international and national), meso (regional) and micro (sub regional and local) level activity. All ERNEST partners were asked to review what they had uploaded or to upload new information in November 2011, in particular to consider any work undertaken around sustainable tourism indicators.
2. Upload and review of NETJAC indicator Good Practice; a set of ten criteria/themes were identified and agreed to help review the Netjac good practices. The agreement of a set of criteria helped this process and worked to ensure that NETJAC was actually delivering value and useful information.

3. Creation of an ERNEST Indicator working group. The objective was to engage those partners who had a particular interest in this area and help build capacity and engagement. A virtual working group was set up in December 2011.
4. Indicator survey: an online survey comprising ten questions was circulated to all ERNEST partners to assess engagement and learning from work and activity around tourism indicators. The purpose was to find out more detail about indicator work in the regions. The survey was issued in January 2012 and closed in March. 12 survey responses were received from ERNEST partners.
5. Capacity Building. The plans of capacity building included: publications, interactive exhibition, ERNEST website and newsletter,

The Action 6 “cooperation with universities and research centres” included the exchange of information relating to education and training activities, programme of courses and research projects, referring to sustainable tourism. The cooperation activities were carried out by each partner with the relevant Universities and RTOs, and also in cooperation with the Academic Committee of NECSTouR, the network of European Universities for a sustainable and competitive tourism (constant exchange of information from ERNEST to the Academic Committee and vice versa).

The preparation of Joint Call (Action 7) had the aim to 1.map possible funding schemes at regional level, 2. map subjects potentially adequate/interested in participating to the joint call, 3. prepare all the Joint Call documents (Memorandum of understanding, Call, Call guidelines, research topics, application form, evaluation guidelines).
The Action 8 concerned the organization of a Workshop with the research community and NECSTouR in Brussels, on June 30th 2010, with the aim to present the joint call during its planning stage and get research community feedback.

At the end of WP3 the “Final report on joint activities” was published, with the aim to describe the actions and their outcome and identify potential areas for cooperation.

Trans-National/Regional Joint Call Implementation (WP4)
The ERNEST partners have launched on October 20th 2010 the first joint call for interregional Collaborative Research Projects (CRPs) in the research area “Sustainable tourism”, The ERNEST initiative covers proposed to finance research focused on original interregional and trans-national research in the selected themes, with an European-added value.
The ERNEST partners who have participated in and funded the joint call projects are: Regione Toscana, Emilia Romagna region, Catalonia and Basquetour (Basque Government - Industry, Commerce and Tourism Department – Basque Region). The other partners have expressed a strong interest for this joint activity, participated to the planning stages (action 7 of WP3) and were constantly informed of the J.C. progresses and results.
The call timeline was as follow:
• Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the regions participating to the JC - September 2010
• Launch of the Joint Call - October 2010
• Submission deadline for proposals - 20 December 2010
• Evaluation period: From 20 December 2010 to 15 February 2011 (prosecuted until May 2011 in order to verify the implementation by the projects of some prescriptions)
• Communication of the funding decision - Done by individual regional funding programmes
• Start of selected projects (date shown above refers to the transnational part of the project activities. Regional programmes may have different timelines) - 01 January 2011
• Deadline for the end of selected projects (the end of selected projects refers to the transnational part of the project activities. Regional programmes may have different timelines) - 31 December 2012 (although, the majority of projects ended their activities in September 2012)
The projects financed were:
• Project acronym: A_BEST - Accessibility_Beach Ecology Safety Techology
• Project acronym: BEST - BEaches accessibility and Security improvement
• Project acronym: CLEAN – eleCtric mobiLity to analyse tourist bEhaviour in urbAN areas
• Project acronym: EXELLENCE - bEaCh EstabLishments accessibiLit, sEcurity and eNvironmental impaCts rEduction
• Project acronym: 4. S. A. F0. M. C0. D – Four seasons in Forte dei Marmi and Costa Dorada
• Project acronym: M.G.D.T – Marinas: Gateways to Discovering the Territory
• Project acronym: T.C.M.T.&C - Thermal Baths and Culture in the Hills of Tuscany and Catalunya

The 7 financed projects group 26 SMEs, 8 Local Public Administrations and 3 academic communities.
All the joint call projects (CRPs cooperative research projects) have been completed.
The advancements and results of CRPs were collected by the ERNEST project by means of two monitoring questionnaires (done both for monitoring and dissemination purposes). A transnational monitoring at the ERNEST level - at medium- and long- term - has been carried out. In addition to that, each funding agency had specific reporting and monitoring requirements. The medium and final monitoring questionnaire had the aim to gather information on the performance of trans-regional projects financed by the ERNEST Joint Call as a whole, investigate the added value of trans-regional cooperation and enable comparisons.
A dedicated brochure with detailed information on the joint call process and joint call projects was published in May 2012 (for dissemination at the Euromeeting and at the Art&Tourism exhibition in Florence, where ERNEST had a booth) and re-printed for the ERNEST final conference.
The activities, processes and results (outcome, outputs and impacts) of the joint call projects were presented at the ERNEST Final Conference. Specifically, each financed CRP was presented in the interactive exhibition.
The outcomes of the WP4 were described in the deliverable 4.2 which described the lessons learned by the joint call process and by the Joint call projects and investigated possibilities for further collaboration.

Outreach and Communication (WP5)
In the early stages of WP5 the communication plan and stakeholder involvement plan were planned and produced. The communication plan included all the communication and dissemination actions forecasted, and the stakeholder involvement plan had the objective to allow each partner to map their regional stakeholders and produce, according to the format agreed upon, their individual stakeholder involvement plans, aiming to involve the regional stakeholder in the ERNEST project activities.
During the project a series of dissemination and communication actions was carried out at project level.
The communication activities in the ERNEST network are central both inside and outside the network:
a) Internally, for a good exchange of heterogeneous experiences and practices, implemented both by institutional and private actors and for the effectiveness of such exchanges;
b) Externally, for an effective dissemination of the experiences and results of the project.

Different communication channels have been used to raise awareness and to spread the results of project in general, and of WP3 and 4 in particular (common actions and Joint Call).

A website was realized and updated during the project lifespan with the project tasks and activities. The reserved area, accessible via id and password, was used as partners’ cooperation tool, a repository of project’s databases, time plan, meeting planning and documents, address book. In the open area at a later stage a specific section was included for the joint call, including the documentation and the partner search tool. Another specific section was developed for the Final Conference, and in this page were then made available to the wide public all the ERNEST conference outcomes: (speakers’ presentations, photos, Joint Call projects panels, Good practice panels, ERNEST project video.
The web site address is www.ernestproject.eu.

The mains communication actions at project level were:
• organisation of regional meetings, in a participative manner, to disseminate general information regarding the ERNEST project and to increase the participation of stakeholders to the ERNEST activities and to the development of regional policies for competitive and sustainable tourism;
• organisation of individual meetings/consultation sessions, most of them videoconferences, via telephone or e-mail with the project major stakeholders to present the project progress, to discuss on the opportunity to participate to the joint call or to exchange of information regarding good practice examples in sustainable tourism;
• participation to related events to obtain information on various themes: recent development of European policies in tourism – sustainability, new challenges, role of research and innovation; open Joint Calls (ERA-nets); European cultural routes, SMEs innovation and competitiveness, use of the EU funds and structural funds for the sustainability of tourism;
• participation to international conferences on the project theme, such as: “World Congress of Social Tourism – Tourism: a time for social policies”; various Euromeeting editions; Entretiens de Greoux, International Open Space Conference (focused on development of cross border tourism), European Tourism Day & Forum etc;
• publication of press releases for the promotion of ERNEST project at local level;
• organisation of press conferences and short interviews;
• production and up-dating of the ERNEST brochure with information regarding the new project partners;
• presentation during the project meetings (all of them) of the project progress in the field of communication and dissemination actions and next steps to be implemented by the project partners;
• up-date of the regional websites with information regarding the project progress with focus on the Joint Call;
• production of a video with the story and results of the ENEST project;
• production of a multimedia tool about good practices and Joint Call project;
• organization of a 1 day international Conference in Florence at project closure (June 27th 2012);
• organization of an interactive Exhibition during the Final Conference; the interactive exhibition concerned the Good Practices and the results of Joint Call project and included illustrative panels and two PC station from which it was possible surf the multimedia tool about good practices and Joint Call project, and watch the ERNEST video
• up-date of the regional website with information regarding the ERNEST Project Final Conference
• organization of regional and interregional events (some of the latter, especially the ones organized in the Eastern regions, with a wide scope, in order to include nearby regions and states)

Identifying and Attracting New Partners (WP6)
WP6 had the purpose to include at least one new partners in the consortium, and encourage the participation of potential partners and collaborating regions.
The contacts with other organizations had been intense in the project preparation phase and continued for all the 4 years of the Ernest project.
Significant result were that in the 1st project period three new organization join ERNEST: the Agency for the
Support of Regional Development Košice (Slovakia), the Regione del Veneto(Italy) and the Welsh Assembly
Government -Visit Wales (UK)– the full report of the selection and accession process and the characteristics of the new partners is contained in the document 6.1 Presentation of potential partner regions.
In addition to that, the ERNEST consortium has done its best to establish ERNEST as an open network of sustainable tourism research and to furtherly encourage the participation of potential partners or collaborating regions, as was described in the document 6.2 Report on New Partner Activity
Many ERNEST partners are also active within the Tourist Sustainability group, with other ERA-NETs and networks, and with the NECSTouR network, and cooperation with the latter has been especially concrete and intense (more details of this are contained in the periodic report of RP3).

Potential Impact:
The issue of sustainable tourism involves numerous actors in various different thematic fields. The ERNEST project brought these actors together at a local, regional and interregional level and encouraged them to exchange ideas and experiences in order to coordinate and add value to their individual activities.
The ERNEST project is of great potential impact in the regions involved as it worked towards:
• promoting and rendering more efficient research programmes
• bringing in elements of success form other areas
• coordinating joint, concrete actions which increase value and potential impact

The results obtained by ERNEST, including the projects actually financed and the good practice database collected, allow to assume the following actions for a future collaboration:

1. integrate the knowledge produced by ERNEST into NECSTouR
2. implement cooperation with ERRIN network (European Regions Research and Innovation Network)
3. investigate possibility to prepare other projects, for instance in the framework of Horizon 2020.
The future cooperation areas in the field of sustainable tourism have also been investigated. Generally speaking, the majority of ERNEST partners expressed the wish to capitalize projects results and continue cooperation after the project is finished.
As we can see from the picture below most of the partners consider the project’s deliverables (good practices, indicators, call for proposal, etc…) an useful tool to improve sustainable tourism in their areas and want to continue to use them in order to actually support sustainable and competitive tourism in their territories, encourage further research and innovation and enhance the awareness of the topic among the local stakeholders.
It is also desired to keep the networking alive even over the project’s conclusion, in order to continue the exchange of knowledge and the cooperation. The Good Practice engine is a powerful data bank which can be consulted and updated even after the project is finished.
Finally, a smaller part of the regions wants to continue with the joint call related activities in order to conclude, monitor and disseminate the financed projects.


The following potential impacts are expected from the ERNEST project:

• ERNEST has contributed to the mainstreaming of sustainability

• ERNEST has been a serious experiment of jointly addressing the global issue of sustainable development of tourism, which is a common issue for all partner regions and for all Europe
• ERNEST has increased the partners’ knowledge through mutual learning and information sharing
• ERNEST has contributed to the experimentation of sustainability models in the destinations and fostered the regional interest on management models, measurement and indicators, having in perspective the need to align to the future European policy
• ERNEST has contributed, with its joint call, to the reduction of fragmentation of research into sustainable tourism and it has defined the topics and key targets of shared research and innovation applied to the field of sustainable tourism;
• ERNEST lead to a better and more efficient way to organise research funding policy in the concerned regions, and brought the regions involved in the joint call to activate additional resources, and develop new financing measures for sustainable tourism research. This produces a socioeconomic impact and wider societal implications (for instance in Tuscany many new support measures have been implemented in the framework of ERNEST using the structural funds and the regional funds, both for SMEs and local administrations)
• ERNEST has gathered and disseminated knowledge around sustainable tourism and the 10 research topics identified (including social dialogue methods and measurement methods) at regional, national and European level
• ERNEST established itself as a network open to further cooperating regions, also to those located in the Less Developed Countries.

The main dissemination activities

The project activities are promoted by dissemination at local, regional, national and European level and concrete cooperation with other networks having similar goals (and especially with the NECSTouR Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive tourism, to which various ERNEST partner participate).

The communication/dissemination activities have been performed in order to make known the ERNEST project by other regions/local administrations and expand the network of organizations involved on sustainable tourism. The communication/dissemination activities also helped to define long-term and ambition strategies in line with the European Union policy of sustainable development.
Among the most relevant activities were the organization of interregional and regional meetings; during the 4 years of project duration each partner has been responsible for organizing meetings at regional level (at least once a year), and more than 11 interregional events have been organized in the last project year to disseminate the projects’ outcome to nearby potentially interested territories and all over the European territory.
The ERNEST interregional and regional meetings represent a powerful opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience, policy actions and programs, and is moreover the best chance for performing territorial marketing of the host regions and promoting own sustainable tourism products, projects and programmes.
The purpose for all of them was to share with other regions and local administrations or stakeholders the objectives and activities of the project.
In addition to that, several dissemination activities were performed to make known the ERNEST project, as for example stakeholders consultations, publications (brochures, press releases ,etc..) good practice mapping, promotion and exchange and internet dissemination. Plans were devised so to involve different stakeholders interested in the sustainable development of tourism and meetings were organized with different trade representatives at regional level; these events provided the opportunity to disseminate the project and its goals, to collect remarks and opinions and to define shared ways to address and develop this topic.

In addition, several articles were published on the local and national press (details are contained in the list of dissemination activities and complementary document).
The communication/dissemination activity, the Joint Call and the good practices exchange were practical means which proved effective in order to involve new partners and collaborating regions.
The strengthening of ties among ERNEST beneficiaries and the involvement of new partners and collaborating regions did concur to the ERNEST objectives since it facilitated:
• the identification of organizations interested in establishing an open network of sustainable tourism research
• the fostering of an effective cooperation mechanism for the exchange of information among partners
• the attenuation of institutional barriers for international sustainable tourism research implementation
• the building of future network scenarios beyond the ERNEST project life period
The ERNEST project final conference was held in Florence the 27th of June 2012. The Conference had both assessment and dissemination purposes . The final conference also provided an opportunity to identify the key concepts on which organizations are interested to establish future collaborations as sustainability, accessibility, ecology, innovation, governance, eco-tourism, measurement, safety, dialogue, seasonality, public / private integration, transport system.
Exploitation of results
Partners could capitalize the project results, share projects results with the local stakeholders and use the knowledge acquired for improving the own measures on sustainable tourism.
The results obtained while developing the project will be useful to achieve a sustainable management of the tourist destinations. The project showed that, if tourism develops itself in a compatible way with the environment and with the life of local communities, it can guarantee better economic results and a greater competitiveness in the long run.
The use of the indicators allows to optimize the collection of accurate information and to orient targeted management and monitoring processes, so that the tourist destinations can choose their desired development path. The project pointed out that a constant monitoring is a key factor for the current and future management of a tourist destination. Therefore, the future of European tourism, often based on mature destinations which, in many cases, have reached an almost saturated development stage, greatly depends on the “quality of tourists’ experience”, which increasingly means the ability to ensure a good quality of life for both tourists and host communities, resulting from sustainable choices which are crucial to keep the tourist destination competitive in the medium and long term and to start a “new season” of development for tourism.
The interest of research centers and universities towards experiences made by similar entities to develop sustainable tourism can increase thanks to what the partners have learned from good practices exchange presented during the project. Private and public entities can contribute their resources to pursue sustainable tourism actions thanks to the experimental activities carried out by joint call funded projects
The ten ERNEST strategic areas - impact of transport, residents quality of life, quality of work, widening the relations between demand/offer (geographical and seasonal concentration of tourism), active conservation of cultural heritage, active conservation of environmental heritage, active conservation of distinctive identities of destinations, reduction and optimization of use of natural resources with particular reference to water, reduction and optimization of energy consumption, reduction of waste and better waste management - contribute in varying degrees to raise the quality of the tourist experience through the matching between competitiveness and sustainability, without which you can not think of a long-term development.
Systemic actions will be most effective for sustainable development of tourism if and when they are capable to encompass as many as possible of the ten dimensions mentioned above.

List of Websites:
www.ernestproject.eu