Experiencias Turismo España "Sustainability and digitalization of the network of Ecotourism experiences in Spain"
The State Secretariat for Tourism has approved the project "Sustainability and digitalization of the network of Ecotourism experiences in Spain" which will be developed by the Ecotourism Association at the state level together with six other partners, one of which is the Garrotxa Turisme Association.
With a budget of €499,877, financed by the Next Generation funds, the project is part of the "Experiences Tourism Spain" program (order ICT/1524/2021, of December 30; Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan of the Ministry of Industry , Commerce and Tourism). To develop it, the Ecotourism association in Spain counts Turisme Garrotxa as one of its strategic partners, along with five other destinations: La Gomera, the Sobrarbe-Pirineos Geopark, the Mariñas Coruñesas Biosphere Reserve, the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve , Sierra Espuña), Rusticae and the Mister Plan platform.
The project, which must be completed by the end of 2023, wants to carry out a real transformation of the ecotourism product with a qualitative leap by financing tools to digitize the work processes of tourism companies, strengthening the brand "I am an Ecoturist". It will also be created an online marketing platform and a digital marketing and communication plan will be drafted and executed, among other actions.
The scope of all actions arising from this project will be the entire network of destinations and companies affiliated to the Ecotourism Club of Spain.
Tourism Sustainability Plan "La Garrotxa soft & smart county. Sustainable and intelligent tourist destination"
The project, financed through the extraordinary call for Tourism Sustainability Plans, which will be financed with European recovery funds (Next Generation Funds), has as its main challenge the transformation of the mobility generated by the more than 500,000 people who are estimated to they visit La Garrotxa every year, encouraging travel on foot, by bicycle, by electric vehicle or by public transport, discouraging the use of vehicles with combustion engines.
This mobility, in addition, must minimize unnecessary displacements, thanks to tourism intelligence tools that allow knowing and predicting the capacity of the resources and services of interest. In short, we want to promote ecomobility for all (accessible) as the basis of the tourist experience, minimize the ecological footprint of tourist activity, avoid the overcrowding that certain spaces suffer at certain moments of the year, all while valuing natural resources and little-known cultural ones.
Apart from mobility, the other three major challenges of the project are to improve energy efficiency, to make digitization a key instrument for the management and promotion of resources and experiences, and to improve the competitiveness of the business fabric, generating new job opportunities, products and tourist experiences adapted to the new demands of visitors (slow, health, well-being, ecosystem services) and involving citizens in the decision-making process.
The project has been developed and coordinated by Turisme Garrotxa and, in addition to the transformative regional projects, the project includes more specific actions in different municipalities of the region, following the line of sustainable and responsible tourism.
This project is also part of the strategy of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (CETS) shared by all tourism agents in the region since 2001, with the accreditation, for the first time, of the Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone of Garrotxa with CETS.
FEDER "La Garrotxa Terra de Volcans, cultura i identitat"
With the aim of developing the county of La Garrotxa as a sustainable tourism destination and for everyone, the County Council of La Garrotxa presented itself at the call for co-financing to entities for axes 4 and 6 by the OP FEDER of Catalonia 2014-2020 with the project “La Garrotxa Terra de Volcans, cultura i identitat”. This aid, which allows to subsidize actions already executed since 2014, was resolved favorably, with an eligible expenditure of 1,890,043.47 euros and a co-financing of 945,021.74 euros.
The project envisages actions related to tourism for everyone, from the adaptation of roads, improvements in access to information, investments in accessibility, to the adaptation of cultural spaces such as Can Musquera in Mieres, motorhome car parks in the Vall d'en Bas and Sant Joan les Fonts or the maintenance of Itinerànnia paths, as well as the installation of new signs for the interpretation of cultural heritage.
Catalonia, through La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, participates in the European project Interreg DestiMED Plus, which will invest nearly 3.6 million euros until 2022 in promoting sustainable tourism in protected areas in six countries.
The aim of the project is to improve the capacity of local and regional agents in the Mediterranean to incorporate tourism and nature conservation into their agendas.
The project will involve an investment of the Department of Territory and Sustainability of 77,500 euros, 85% of which will be borne by European funds. The investment will be used to design coordinated pilot actions, through interdisciplinary groups, for the promotion of ecotourism. The project also plans to study the calculation of the carbon footprint of tourism activities.
Epiremed+, Experiències Pirinenques, Emocions Mediterrànies
Turisme Garrotxa participates in EpireMed, a cross-border project to promote sustainable tourism in the whole of the Catalan-Occitan Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees, on both sides of the border. The project includes a total of 17 counties: Rosselló, Conflent, Vallespir, Fenolleda, Capcir, Vall d'Aran, Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà, Noguera, Alt Urgell , the Solsonès, the Berguedà, the Cerdanya, the Ripollès, the Garrotxa, and the Alt Empordà.
The EpireMed project aims to create tourist products that are based on the integration of tourist attractions on both sides of Catalonia, with the common nexus of sustainability, quality and added value, both for the tourist and for the territory of 'host, and promote economic and social integration between northern Catalonia and the Pyrenees of southern Catalonia. The project also includes the development of a joint national and international marketing and promotion strategy, and the development of sustainable transportation alternatives.
The EpireMed project is funded by the European Union and participated by the Generalitat de Catalunya and the French regional governments of northern Catalonia. Specifically, it has an overall budget of more than 1.4 million euros, co-financed by 65% by an ERDF fund.
Garrotxa Approp. La Garrotxa, a la butxaca.
The Covid-19 crisis has had a strong impact on the economic sectors of the hospitality, tourism, trade, leisure and, in general, the services sector. This affectation has generated the need to promote the purchase in local shops and the use of hospitality establishments in La Garrotxa, to alleviate the economic downturn due to the slowdown in the economy resulting from the measures of restriction of activities implemented throughout the country.
With the aim of reactivating the local economy of the region, the Garrotxa Approp project was born, a mobile application to promote local consumption and the revitalization and economic development of the territory, in a responsible and sustainable way. This app aims to retain customers through a multisectoral business network, as well as generate spending in the region and generate local purchases.
The application allows the user to get discounts and points on each purchase and works as a wallet card for companies that want to reward their workers. The launch of Garrotxa Approp stems from the need to promote local shopping. This is one of the actions included in the Plan for the Economic Reactivation and Employment of La Garrotxa. It is a project subsidized by the Public Employment Service of Catalonia and the European Social Fund.
Garrotxa Approp is a collaborative project, included in the Regional Reactivation Plan, which involves the joint work of different entities and bodies in the region: the Association of Hospitality of La Garrotxa, the Association of Merchants of Olot, l 'Pleasures Association of Plaça Mercat d'Olot, Turisme Garrotxa, DinàmiG, the County Council of La Garrotxa and Olot City Council; and has the support of Cercle Euram, the Association of Young Entrepreneurs of La Garrotxa and Bianya Business Forum.
For the first time in the territory, we are working on a project that involves and creates a network between all the economic actors that make it up, helping to boost the economy of La Garrotxa, and creating a closed circuit in which all resources remain in the region . All municipal and regional trade and tourist associations can be part of it. In addition, the Garrotxa Approp wants to promote the associative fabric, and therefore the establishments adhered to some of the participating entities will have advantages.
Garrotxa Approp, which is available for free on the Android and iOS platforms, provides benefits to users and participating companies. In the application you can find products and services (food, clothes, restaurants, accommodation ...) of the region and allows you to enjoy benefits and discounts. Specifically, you get a 5% discount on all purchases made at member establishments. It also wants to encourage companies in La Garrotxa to give economic checks to their workers so that they can spend them in the participating establishments and, at the same time, work as a local currency so that the economic resources generated remain in the region.
Its operation is based on three lines of action:
- Garrotxa Approp is made up of service companies, shops and hotels, which provide the offer, product diversity and promotions to attract the general customer. At the same time, the application allows all companies to collaborate by offering work incentives and remunerating their workers, as it also works as a wallet card.
- Thanks to the first contributions from collaborating companies such as Zoetis, La Fageda Fundació and Cubus, in the first few weeks there will be around 40,000 euros available to workers so that they can enjoy them in the establishments that have joined the application.
- The app also allows you to generate specific and temporary promotions (Christmas, birthdays, St. George's Day, etc.) with gift vouchers to spend on member establishments that make up their cities and towns.
- In relation to the users of the application, the main target audience of the application are people living in La Garrotxa. But it also wants to capture the interest of visitors, so that they enjoy the offer of the region (obtaining direct discounts on their purchases and accumulating exchangeable points in euros), so it will also be promoted among people who visit us.
In short, the main objectives of the application are: to increase the competitiveness, sales and profits of the member companies through customer loyalty. Generate a multiplier effect for cross-sales that will take place. Encourage sustainability in the three areas that make it up: social, economic and environmental. Turn the application into a reference tool for dynamizing campaigns and promotional actions. And finally, and in the long term, it wants to consolidate itself as the reference application for local purchases, both in person and online.
Companies interested in being part of the project and taking advantage of the synergies generated by this app will have at their disposal the website www.garrotxaapprop.cat, where they will find all the information and conditions to be part of the Approp offer. The project opens the doors to any trade association in La Garrotxa.
PECT "Costa Brava-Pirineu de Girona: natura, cultura i intel·ligència en xarxa"
The project "Natura, cultura i intel·ligència en xarxa" will deploy a set of actions aimed at connecting the network of roads with the cultural and natural heritage of the province of Girona. The aim is to connect and signpost routes on foot and by bicycle from one side of the Girona region to the other, while making them known and facilitating access to the natural and cultural heritage, especially the most unknown.
The project will highlight a slow, sustainable and accessible offer for everyone, taking into account new technologies as a mainstay to facilitate both interpretation and access to resources.
The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - project GO03-002052, by the Generalitat de Catalunya and by the Diputació de Girona, which acts as coordinator. The partners or entities linked to this initiative are the University of Girona, the Girona Greenways Consortium, and the county councils or county tourism promotion bodies in the Girona region.
Accreditation of companies with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism
In 2001, La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park was accredited with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (CEST), which is a recognition of the tourism management system granted by the Europarc Federation. It is currently owned by 58 natural areas in seven European countries (Finland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal). Since then, the Natural Park has been working together and in cooperation with tourism agents and administrations throughout the region for the implementation of a sustainable tourism management model. Among the key agents is Turisme Garrotxa, the common meeting point for the public and private sectors.
From the second half of 2008, the CEST was opened to tourism companies, in a voluntary process that had to demonstrate the commitment of companies to the territory.
The process of accrediting companies with the CEST has been completed by some 50 tourism companies, which have been diagnosed with their environmental, social and territorial aspects. These companies have had to comply with the conditions set by the Natural Park and the Spanish section of Europarc, and, finally, define a three-year program of actions that is the focus of their commitment to sustainable tourism in the region. .
This accreditation reinforces and improves the close cooperation and collaboration between La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and the private tourism sector of the region, with Turisme Garrotxa as a key partner in this process.
The Garrotxa Natural Park and Tourism, on the other hand, also make commitments to companies such as promoting tourism in a differentiated way or favoring training.
Through the accreditation of companies, La Garrotxa is once again a pioneering region in Spain because it was already the first park in Spain to obtain the CEST and has now been a pilot park in the system of accreditation of companies (along with 5 parks in Andalusia).
Having attended the Knowledge Course of the Tourism Sector of La Garrotxa, and regularly attending ongoing training sessions is one of the prerequisites to be able to be accredited with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.
Network of Tourist Offices
Offering quality information is one of the main objectives of Turisme Garrotxa andLa Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. That is why in 2001 the accreditation of tourist facilities as Information Points began.
Initially, this network consisted of tourist offices, accommodation, restaurants and activity companies. After a few years of operation, the Accreditation of Information Point became part of the accreditation of companies with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.
At the same time, another network that had been created for some time was being consolidated: that of the tourist offices. Regardless of its ownership and management (public, concession ...), Turisme Garrotxa coordinates a table formed by its municipal officials and also those responsible for customer service.
In this way, not only can all the staff involved in customer service exchange information of mutual interest, but also projects and procedures can be coordinated and unified between the different tourist offices.
Itinerànnia Footpath Network
Itinerànnia is a network of 2,500 km of trails between the counties of Ripollès, Garrotxa and Alt Empordà. Itinerànnia recovers the old communication routes between the towns to be able to arrive at any corner, any small place. The network is formed by the natural and cultural assets of three areas, which are the main attractions of visitors to our country, and allows you to walk from the Pyrenees to the sea and from the sea to the Pyrenees.
The launch of this network in 2008 was thanks to a cooperation project of the Leader grant. The first step was to make an inventory of roads in the region and select the historical ones, through inventories of roads and conversations with the local population, hiking centers, etc. The second step was to make a map of tourist, natural and cultural resources. The third step was to create a map of tourist services.
By superimposing all these maps, scoring criteria were established that gave a higher score to the trails closest to tourist establishments, basic services in the region or resources of very high interest, linked to culture, heritage , in gastronomy, history and the idiosyncrasy of territories. So these trails with the highest score have been the ones that have finally formed part of the basic Itinerànnia trail network.
All this was, and still is, possible thanks to the collaboration of town councils, natural parks, tourist offices and hiking centers that have worked together with a single goal: to create a new network of trails that give new opportunities in the territory.
Between Ripollès, La Garrotxa and Alt Empordà, more than 2,500 kilometers of paths have been marked, which allow for multiple excursions depending on the time spent, the degree of difficulty, the cultural, architectural and natural interests. .. In short, everyone can design the route to their own size or choose one of the proposed routes that are available on the project website.
These solid bases allow to face projects like the PECT "Costa Brava-Pyrenees of Girona: nature, culture and intelligence in network", that will allow to unite the ways of all the counties of the demarcation of Girona and visualize them in a web and in an APP, together with the heritage and the tourist services and equipment, with the possibility of creating tailor-made routes and consulting the route of all the signposted itineraries of the demarcation.
The fact that information on heritage is available to everyone is a matter of vital importance, in order to better understand the environment and understand its value. That is why over the last few years a series of actions have been taken to enhance the historical heritage of La Garrotxa through signage and digital resources.
Between 2009 and 2014, the Garrotxa County Council commissioned an Inventory of the Historical Heritage of La Garrotxa, an essential tool to be able to identify all the resources of heritage interest. This was the starting point of all subsequent performances.
In 2012 and 2013 we worked on a collaborative table in the development of the project. The following year, the Garrotxa County Council obtained two grants, one from the ERDF funds and another from the Generalitat de Catalunya's Development Plan, for the project "Garrotxa Cultour: innovation in routes for the interpretation of heritage" .
Through the Development Plan they managed to finance a minimum number of 4 signals in each municipality. Some municipalities, however, requested to signal more cultural resources by co-financing the additional signals. Finally, the APP, the web, and the videos were created.
Between 2015 and 2017, the Garrotxa County Council was able to signal more elements of heritage interest thanks to the second Tourism Promotion Plan of the Generalitat de Catalunya, called “La Garrotxa, land of volcanoes, culture and identity. Phase II ”.
In 2017, the Garrotxa County Council signed agreements with the town councils to define aspects such as the ownership and maintenance of the signs, and currently, Turisme Garrotxa monitors the state of the signs, and guides councils that need to repair them, or that want to renew or expand signage.
Servei d'Innovació i Producte (SIP)
In 2016, Turisme Garrotxa created a support service aimed at the most active tourism companies committed to the territory in order to strengthen them and generate an economic impact following global tourism trends and the local tourism model based on in sustainability.
This service currently offers technical support and advice to more than 40 tourism companies of different types (accommodation, restaurants, activities and receptive travel agencies). This support is mainly aimed at adopting sustainability measures that allow companies to be accredited with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (INNOVATION), as well as improving the specialization and differentiation of their services based on three products: nature, gastronomy and small format meetings (PRODUCT).
As a result of the joint work between the receiving agencies and the companies that make up the SIP, the Garrotxa incoming Experiences catalog was created, a publication aimed at the professional public for the marketing of La Garrotxa as a sustainable and quality destination and which includes 10 packages focused on active tourism, ecotourism, hiking, cycling, gastronomy, health and wellness, culture and accessibility for all. This catalog received the recognition of the Catalan Tourism Award in 2019.
All the information on the services offered by the SIP companies can be found at trade.turismegarrotxa.com, where you can also consult a blog and a newsletter aimed at tourism intermediation professionals.