Opis odabranog projekta i motivacija za odabir

The project we have chosen is called Take it slow, which works for ‘Smart and Slow Tourism Supporting Adriatic Heritage for Tomorrow’: it is designed to establish, manage and promote adriatic region as smart, integrated, sustainable, accessible, green and slow touristic destination of the mediterranean, based on accessible, protected, valorised and promoted tangible and intangible joint natural and cultural heritage of its islands, coastal, inland and rural adriatic. Leading Partner is Dubrovnik Neretva Region with 11 partners from Italy and Croatia.

During these months we have collected the following data concerning the project: the total budget of the project is € 3.764.695,71 from EU. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financed these works with 3.199.991,33 € and other Project partners with 564.704,38 €.  The project started on 01/06/2020 and finished on 31/12/2022, but because of the pandemic it was extended until 30/06/2023. The lands involved are the Italian Adriatic regions (Ancona, Bari, Campobasso, Cervignano del Friuli, Pescara, Ravenna, Venice), Croatian Adriatic regions (Dubrovnik, Split, Šibenik, Zadar and Pula),  and some other European Countries.

We’ve decided to undertake this project because it is important to promote natural and cultural heritage and a leverage for sustainable and more balanced territorial development in this time of globalisation and environmental problems. Also, the project inspired us to build an historical and cultural bridge between two Adriatic coasts.

Our team analysed how the project activities help the local community in achieving the project goals. This research can serve as an idea for some new projects dedicated to the local community. It can also raise awareness of the importance of authentic heritage incorporated into sustainable tourism.

Opis značajnih faza istraživanja

 In some articles we found some information about projects carried on in our Region thanks to Take it slow funds, we report here a part of the newspaper about one of these projects: “A new space for tourists to enhance one of the most important testimonies of monasticism in the Marche. This is the “Centre for the interpretation of the intangible cultural heritage of the Camaldolesi Monks of Fonte Avellana”, set up in the area of the Monastery of Fonte Avellana (Serra Sant’Abbondio – PU) and built by Svem, the development company of the Marche Region, thanks to resources of the European strategic project “Take it slow”.”

Our research was conceived in several phases. We found key information about the Take it Slow project on the Interreg Italy-Croatia website. The focus of civic monitoring and research of the students is the implementation of the project in the territory of the leading partner, Dubrovnik-Neretva County. That’s why we contacted the Regional Development Agency of Dubrovnik- Neretva County, DUNEA. Agency employees held several lectures and workshops for our research team, where they introduced us to EU funds, Interreg Italy-Croatia projects and the Take it Slow project itself. After that, we analysed and presented the collected data.

Most of the project activities are focused on the Pelješac peninsula, which is rich in natural and cultural heritage that is suitable for the development of the so-called slow tourism. Therefore, an important part of the project consists of works on the infrastructure for visitors, such as the opening of info centres, the installation of educational panels and boards, hiking trails, cycling trails, trails for visiting cultural sights, and catering and accommodation facilities.

To learn more about the project activities on a local level, we organised an interview with the project coordinator. We were interested in how much financial resources were spent and on which activities. The budget for Dubrovnik-Neretva County amounts to €863,213.81. Budget funds were spent on equipment in the amount of €186,536.68, on infrastructure works in the amount of €250,000.00, and on the services of external experts in the amount of €154,713.32.

The services of external experts include the costs of promotion and implementation of products and services of green/eco certificates. For this purpose, there have been organised 3 workshops on the topic “ECO CERTIFICATION – SIGNIFICANCE ON THE MARKET” for farmers, fishermen and shellfish farmers on the Pelješac peninsula, an island Šipan and Lastovo. Another educational activity was organised for stakeholders from the Pelješac. They took a study trip to the Basque Culinary Center.

Main infrastructural works have been done to renovate the Duke’s Palace in Ston as an interpretation centre with a multifunctional hall and interpretive elements of Adriatic heritage. Therefore the financing of external collaborators includes conceptual and architectural solutions for infrastructure works.

Prijedlozi i follow-up

Our goal was to investigate which plans the Croatian and Italian participants fulfilled and how the course of the project and these changes affected target groups, especially the local community. After analysing the survey, we concluded that this project should be better promoted because of its importance. Take it slow gives a lot of opportunities to promote the Adriatic region. We are optimistic that over time the goals of this project will be achieved. The biggest challenges were the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed the works, and inflation, which significantly increased the cost of construction works. Indicators of success will be the expansion of the tourist offer in the Adriatic regions, the competitiveness of local original lifestyle and products against mass tourism.

Our civic monitoring is not finished yet, because the project is still active, so we don’t have all the data needed (for example: infrastructural work on Duke’s Palace in Ston is not finished yet).

We think that our monitoring will help the project to be more visible in the local community.  Working on this investigation helped us to know more about EU and ERDF funds that can be used in favour of small communities. We are very grateful to the Regional Development Agency of Dubrovnik- Neretva County, DUNEA for all help and support given in our investigation mission.