Heraklion Become Partner of the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Sustainable Tourism
Heraklion, following an invitation from the European Commission, has been selected as a partner in the Urban Agenda for the EU partnership (URBAN AGENDA for the EU), which is being created in the new thematic area of Sustainable Tourism.
Through this network of cities, Member States and stakeholders, Heraklion will play an active role in shaping the context of Sustainable Tourism at the urban level, and more specifically in identifying the challenges faced by cities at the local level, while also contributing with actions and activities that will emerge from the network that is being created. The objectives of this network include improving existing legislation on urban areas and urban challenges, supporting and improving innovative and user-friendly sources of funding for urban areas, exchanging and developing knowledge (data, studies, good practices) and sharing experiences for a better understanding of the challenges of urban areas in terms of sustainable tourism, in order to plan the necessary actions for the future.
The coordinators of the action are the Municipality of Genoa (Italy) and the Municipality of Galati (Romania). The work is expected to start in early 2023, while the other cities of the partnership that will work together with Heraklion to find solutions and actions to address challenges around the theme “Sustainable Tourism” are Larissa (Greece), Venice (Italy), Sibenik (Croatia), Zadar (Croatia), Porvoo (Finland) and Narva (Estonia).
The Deputy Mayor for Tourism of the Municipality of Heraklion, Mr. George Sisamakis, commenting on the inclusion of Heraklion in the partnership, said: “Our choice to participate in the Sustainable Tourism network, of the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership, which contributes to the formulation of EU policies and actions, is a sign of recognition of the effort being made here in Heraklion. Clearly we will benefit on multiple levels as we will have the opportunity to be directly informed about developments in the most important sector of our local economy, Tourism, to exchange know-how and to contribute to the formulation of policies that concern the future of Tourism and urban areas. Through this networking, a head start in tourism-related programmes and resources is clearly ensured, so that we can actively contribute to a more sustainable model of development in a modern city like Heraklion.”
What is the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership
Launched in May 2016, the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership represents a new multi-level working method that promotes cooperation between Member States, cities, the European Commission and other stakeholders to stimulate growth, sustainability and innovation in European cities and to identify and successfully address social challenges.
It is an integrated and coordinated approach to examining the urban dimension of European Union and Member State policies and legislation. By focusing on specific priority themes within specific partnerships, the Urban Agenda seeks to improve the quality of life in urban areas, while focusing on the three pillars of policy making and implementation: Better legislation, funding and expertise.
Fourteen Partnerships have been defined so far on the themes of air quality, circular economy, climate adaptation, culture and cultural heritage, digital transition, energy transition, housing, inclusion of migrants and refugees, innovative and responsible public procurement, jobs and skills in the local economy, sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions, urban mobility, urban poverty, and finally security in public spaces. In 2022, “Greening Cities” and “Sustainable Tourism” were added to the Agenda.
The new thematic partnership will focus on the specific issues related to tourism in cities as a critical component of the sustainable development of urban economies. The new thematic partnership on “Sustainable Tourism” will also build on the results of previous thematic partnerships on digital transition, housing, urban mobility, employment and skills in the local economy, as well as on culture and heritage.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) conducted a Destination Assessment of Heraklion, Greece, from March to December 2021. The Destination Assessment was led by Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Program Director for the Mediterranean Region, working closely with Heraklion’s authorities. Based on the outcomes and benefits of this Destination Assessment, Heraklion Authorities have designed a roadmap for utilizing the outcomes of the Assessment, heading to actions and activities, such as the application on Urban Agenda for the EU partnership. This is a critical element of GSTC Destination Assessment: the realistic and extensive evaluation of a Destination performance based on a well-defined and worldwide accepted methodology and utilizing the criteria of GSTC-D, which supports the effort of Destinations like Heraklion to design and implement actions towards a more sustainable future.
Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Program Director for the Mediterranean Region, remarked: “GSTC Destination Assessment is a critical initial step for a Destination to evaluate where it stands. Heraklion proved the necessity but also the boost that a Destination takes with such a tool for designing and achieving a more sustainable future for all the citizens and visitors. Congratulations to the Municipality and the DMMO for a successful step forward!”