Culture branding - Strengthening extroversion “Culture Plus”

Source of Funding: Europe Union
Project Timeframe: 2018 – 2020
Priority Axis: 2. Boosting the local economy
Thematic Priority: 2d. Encouraging tourism and cultural and natural heritage
Specific Objective: 2.1 Preserve cultural and natural resources as a prerequisite for tourism development of the cross border area
SDC- Fields of expertise: Tourism, cultural heritage and Similar Industries

The proposed project aims to structure all the needed conditions for the formation of Place Marketing, as a basic component of the tourism
promotion in the cross-border area.
The overall objective of the ‘Branding and Strengthening Area’s extroversion’ (CULTURE PLUS) project is to achieve the rebranding of the crossborder area of Greece-Albania through the enhancement and the skillful promotion of the eco-cultural resources, placing particular emphasis on the tourist development.

The Project’s idea concerns the rebranding of the cross-border area of Greece-Albania through the enhancement and skillful promotion of ecocultural resources, focusing on tourist development. The cross-border area of Greece-Albania seems to carry a negative image for both countries and generally Europe. This poor image is further undermined by the current economic crisis that currently defines both regions. This fact is particularly visible, when comparing Greece-Albania border area to other European border areas with similar geophysical characteristics. The current, rather undermined, image of the area is not compatible with the true qualities and potentials. It is characteristic that areas of pure natural beauty, cultural resources of tangible and intangible heritage have not yet been propelled or exploited. Due to the IPA status of Albania in the EU and historical reasons as well, the common European identity is not yet prominent in the cross-border area. The border lies more as a strict boundary between different states and different cultures and not as a common European territory between the neighboring countries with alike cultural resources. As a result, the common European identity is not yet adequately promoted.

For historical and political reasons the national images, built in previous decades by the two countries, have not permitted the promotion of common cultural resources which lie on either side of the border. Religious monuments (churches and monasteries), commonplace names across the borders, arts and crafts, music, gastronomy, traditional costumes and other tangible and intangible cultural resources form a common unexploited cultural asset that has to be skillfully protected and promoted. Mountain resorts, rivers, historical mountainous trails and war monuments of the recent past should also be added in the previous list, forming an attractive prospective tourist package. Unlike other European border areas with common geophysical characteristics (such as Tyrol), the previous potentials have not yet been exploited.

The aforementioned common eco-cultural resources should form a vehicle towards the establishment of a new identity, aiming to the enhancement of the common European concept and tourist development. This identity will be highlighted and formed through marketing strategies towards the whole cross-border area’s rebranding. Furthermore, training and consultation processes among key stakeholders, involved in place marketing and branding strategies, will take place in the area. Besides existing practices ameliorated and contextualised into the Project’s idea, the follow-through of the Project will be accompanied by the development of a dynamic/on-line knowledge base and networking platform that is anticipated to continue to operate after the completion of the Project, aiming at the diffusion of knowledge and ongoing training.

All regions from the Project and corresponding sub-regions, urban and rural areas are the beneficiaries of the Project.

Additionally, the main target groups involve local governments’ members, enterprises (SMEs, businesses involved in tourism and enterprises of wider scope),public or private stakeholders and the inhabitants. The diversity of the participating members along with the training processes will contribute to the diffusion of knowledge to the whole area.

CULTURE PLUS is strongly related to challenges and assets addressed for the programme area, since involve notable touristic attractions and address the urgent need for creating a joint touristic brand for the CBC area.
CULTURE PLUS will result to promote Greek-Albanian cross-border area through place marketing and branding strategies and skills, during a particularly special and sensitive political, social and economic European context. The fragile economic condition and the rapidly evolving social insecurity, they gradually juxtapose insular conditions to the collective European vision. However, these conditions are even more obvious at the Greek-Albanian cross-border area –a tourist area par excellence-. The promotion of local skillful practices through socially oriented place branding might be an integral, innovative and thus ideal tool for managing all the previously mentioned conditions. The actions of the programme aspire to set the basis on which the new branded image of the area is going to be supported.