Financial Support for SMEs aims to boost Sustainable Growth in Tourism

StarGrowth Open Call for proposals has been launched today (23 May 2023) to provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Romania, or Slovenia. The initiative aims to support SMEs in these countries to grow and expand their businesses. With a financial support of up to 7 500 euro per SME with a total budget of up to 675 000 euro, the StarGrowth Open Call for proposals is an excellent opportunity for SMEs to get the funding they need to take their businesses to the next level.

To be eligible for funding, SMEs must be established in an EU member state and operate in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Romania, or Slovenia. They must have at least one completed financial year and operate in “predominantly rural regions” and “significantly rural regions / Intermediate”, according to the Urban-rural NUTS 3 typology. SMEs must have economic activity related to the tourism sector in one or more of following three categories: Hotels and similar accommodation; Holiday and other short-stay accommodation; Camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks.

The Star Growth Open Call is open to both tourism SMEs lagging in terms of sustainability performance, digitalisation and innovative practices and solutions, and those that are more advanced to facilitate knowledge transfer and exchange of good practices among them and promote business cooperation. It aims to 1) Support SMEs by adopting sustainable and innovative practices through customised technical support activities and capacity building programs; 2) Support SMEs through processes of i) preparation and / or application for sustainability / environmental certification, ii) preparation and / or generation of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) studies and Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF) studies, iii) implementation of improvement measures following the recommendations of the PEF / OEF studies, iv) developing of sustainability strategy plans; 3) Support SMEs for training and capacity building activities in order to empower their staff towards innovation and sustainability; 4) Support SMEs by increasing SMEs’ competitiveness via boosting innovation in sustainable and resilient tourism.

The financial support can help enterprises to overcome financial barriers that may have hindered their growth and development, especially caused by the COVID-19. By applying to the STAR GROWTH Open Call SMEs have the opportunity to receive funding to implement sustainable and /or digitalisation-oriented activities. The initiative is part of the EU’s broader efforts to support SMEs and promote innovations and digitalisation in the region.

To apply for the StarGrowth Open Call, SMEs should submit their proposals through the dedicated online website The proposals should include a detailed description of the activities, expected outcomes/deliverables, as well as a lump-sum breakdown, etc. Additionally, SMEs should provide information on their legal status, scope of activity/ies, financial performance, etc. Applications are accepted until 26 July 2023, 17:00 CET.


The StarGrowth Open Call is part of the activities within the project Star Growth, “Sustainable Tools & Activities for Rural Tourism and Ecotourism SMEs Growth”, SMP-COSME-2021-TOURSME, grant agreement number 101085746, funded by the EU Single Market Programme. Started in January 2023, the project aims 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.

This article was co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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