Revolutionizing SMEs in Sustainable Tourism: The Success of StarGrowth Open Call

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.

Launched on 2nd October 2023, the Call aims to provide financial support and technical assistance to rural and ecotourism SMEs in these countries. This comes after the success of the first Open Call in July 2023, which saw many SMEs benefit from the program.

The main goal of the StarGrowth Open Call is to support and empower SMEs in their sustainable and digital transition. This is in line with the European Union’s efforts to promote sustainability and innovation in the tourism industry, which has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Open Call, SMEs will receive customized technical support and capacity building programs that will help them adopt sustainable and innovative practices. Furthermore, the initiative supports enterprises in obtaining sustainability and environmental certifications, preparing environmental footprint studies, plans for sustainable development, and implementing improvement measures. An essential aspect of the StarGrowth Open Call is the focus on training and capacity building. By equipping staff with the necessary knowledge and skills, the initiative aims to strengthen SMEs and position them for growth and resilience in the competitive market environment.

The success of the StarGrowth project and the overall response to the Open Calls – 141 applications received in total within the 1st Call (May-July 2023) and 2nd Call (October-December 2023) – demonstrate the high demand for support and resources in the tourism industry. It is essential for governments and organizations to continue investing in international initiatives like StarGrowth to promote sustainability, innovation, digitalisation, and resilience in this vital sector. By working together, we can ensure that the tourism industry not only emerges from the current crisis but also thrives in the long term, benefiting both the economy and the environment.

The evaluation results will be coming out soon.

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