Sustainable Tools & Activities for Rural Tourism and Ecotourism SME’s Growth
The European Union has been aiming for sustainable development for nearly 20 years, and the European Green Deal is the roadmap to make the EU’s economy sustainable. The SME Strategy for a Sustainable and Digital Europe also recognizes that capacity building and support to SMEs is key to transition to sustainability and digitalization. Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors, contributing to 11% of the EU’s GDP and 11.2% of total EU employment. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an acute and pervasive effect on the tourism sector. Rural destinations and ecotourism have emerged as the most attractive options in the wake of the pandemic, bringing many potential benefits such as seasonality mitigation, promotion of local economies, protection of natural capital, and enhancement of environmental awareness. Therefore, the Star Growth project will focus on supporting the transition to sustainability and digitalisation of rural tourism and ecotourism SMEs in 6 countries, providing customized support services and training for the sustainable and slow development of these sectors.
The projects’ overall objective is to enhance the sustainable growth of SMEs operating in the rural tourism and ecotourism sectors in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania and Italy by providing technical and financial support, whilst boosting their awareness, development and capacity in the area of sustainable innovations.
The second StarGrowth Call for proposals, which closed on 13 December 2023, received a staggering 68 applications from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cyprus, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Italy, and Romania.