Procedure

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 15:15

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) play a crucial role in reaching the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Whereas they are considered as crucial engines for growth and job creation, their competitiveness is affected by a limited exploitation of international opportunities and innovation prospects in the Single Market and beyond.

COM (2010)2020 final of 3 March 2010 “Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth

Regulation (EU) No 1287/2013 of 11 December 2013 (Official Journal of the European Union L 347/33 of 20.12.2013)

EASME was set up by Commission Implementing Decision 2013/771/EU of 17 December 2013 establishing the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and repealing Decisions 2004/20/EC and 2007/372/EC (Official Journal of the European Union L 341/73 of 18.12.2013).

Commission Implementing Decision C(2016)63 final of 18.01.2016 on the adoption of the work programme for 2016 and the financing for the implementation of the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Commission Implementing Decision C(2016) 4344 final of 14 July 2016 amending the Commission Implementing Decision C(2016) 63 concerning the adoption of the work programme 2016 and the financing for the implementation of Programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Pilot projects are projects of an experimental nature that can be proposed by the Budget Authority for implementation by the Commission to test the feasibility of an action and its usefulness. They are limited to a period of no more than two consecutive years.

Preparatory actions are project initiatives that can be proposed by the Budget Authority for implementation by the Commission to prepare proposals with a view to the adoption of future actions. They are limited to a period of no more than three consecutive years.

In this context, the Programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (2014-2020), hereinafter referred to as “COSME”, aims to promote growth and to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises in the European Union.

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (hereinafter referred to as "EASME" or the "Agency") manages this invitation to submit a proposal. EASME is entrusted by the European Commission with the implementation, inter alia, of parts of the COSME programme.

In this respect, this invitation to submit a proposal, managed by EASME, implements partially the COSME Work Programme 2016 as last amended on 14 July 2016, which provides that a grant might be awarded without a call for proposals to eligible National Administrations in charge of tourism and/or National Tourism Offices for the purpose of selecting European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) on the theme of "cultural tourism".

Policy Context

This invitation to submit a proposal aims at setting-up an action to develop and support transnational cooperation projects in tourism sector with involvement of SMEs and in close cooperation with the Member States.

The present invitation to submit a proposal comes as a continuation of the initiative “European Destinations of Excellence” (EDEN) launched in 2006 by the European Commission. It was seen as a means of initiating a European Union action in support of European tourism which was implemented as a pilot project6 and a preparatory action7 in 2007-2011. Since 2011 it has been Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016 continued under the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) and as of 2014 under the COSME programme.

Regulation (EU) No 1287/2013 of 11 December 2013 (Official Journal of the European Union 2013/L347/33 of 20 December 2013)

Selection of the EDEN destinations is based on national competitions that result in the award of one tourist “destination of excellence” and up to 4 runners-up for each participating country. The recipients of the award are emerging, non-traditional and little known European destinations. By the end of 2015, around 140 destinations from 27 different countries were awarded the EDEN prize since 2007, under different annual themes chosen by the European Commission together with the relevant national tourism authorities. To date, the themes have focused on rural tourism (2007), local intangible heritage (2008), protected areas (2009), aquatic tourism (2010), tourism and regeneration of physical sites (2011), accessible tourism (2013) and tourism and local gastronomy (2015).

In 2011, 2013 and 2015 calls for proposals were launched to support National Administrations in charge of tourism for the purpose of promoting the EDEN destinations (winners and runners-up of the previous editions) and for enhancing awareness of the EDEN rationale in partnerships. 18 countries participated in the first call for proposals:, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, France, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Turkey. 15 countries participated in the second call: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. 13 countries participate in the 2015 call: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland and Slovenia.

The overall aim of the initiative is “to draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where the economic growth objective is pursued in such a way as to ensure the social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism”.

The specific objectives of the EDEN initiative are:

  • enhance visibility of the emerging European tourist destinations of excellence, especially the lesser known;
  • create awareness of Europe's tourist diversity and quality;
  • promote all European countries and regions;
  • help decongestion, combat seasonality, rebalance the tourist flows towards the non-traditional destinations;
  • award sustainable forms of tourism;
  • create a platform for the exchange of good practices at European level;
  • promote networking between awarded destinations which could persuade other destinations to adopt sustainable tourism development models;
  • trigger a greater support from national tourism organisations at local level and an increase in private sector investment in the destinations;
  • prompt a sense of pride of the local community which will lead to addition enthusiasm for further improvement of their sustainable tourism offer.

The EDEN initiative is organised through two types of calls for proposals directed to all EU Member States and other countries participating in the COSME programme.

The first type of calls for proposals aims at co-financing the eligible costs of the procedures for the selection of the national destinations of excellence and for the organisation of EDEN promotion/awareness raising campaigns. The second type of EDEN call for proposals focuses on EDEN promotion and awareness raising campaigns. Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016.

The present invitation to submit a proposal falls under the first category (selection of the national destinations of excellence).

Additional information

For the implementation of the EDEN initiative, the Commission (and the EASME from 2014) also organise award events at European-level and a number of flanking communication activities (i.e. a dedicated EDEN webpage http://ec.europa.eu/eden, media and online campaigns, production and distribution of audio-visual materials, brochures, information leaflets, participation in tourism fairs, etc.) in order to create awareness of EDEN as a brand of sustainable tourism in Europe’s non-traditional tourist destinations.

Among the different aims of the EDEN initiative, one is to create a platform for the exchange of good practices in the field of sustainable tourism at European level and to promote networking between awarded destinations. Aiming at achieving these objectives, in 2008 the European Commission set-up a European Network of Destinations of Excellence for Sustainable Tourism (hereinafter called “EDEN network”) which comprises all EDEN winning destinations (and as of 2012 all runners-up) of the EDEN project and is a unique network in the field of sustainable tourism worldwide. The members have signed the “Declaration of Brussels” and officially committed themselves to collaborate with each other and guarantee constant exchange of information and knowledge on tourism development. In 2012 the majority of the EDEN Network members established an international non-profit organisation, the EDEN Network Association (AISBL).

More information on the EDEN initiative may be found by following these links: http://ec.europa.eu/eden and http://youredenexperience.com/.

General objective

The objective of the present invitation is to support National Tourism Administrations or the bodies designated by them for the purpose of the selection of new European Destinations of Excellence open to destinations of all COSME countries.

The theme

The Commission selected as theme of excellence for 2016 “Cultural Tourism”, based on discussions with the Member States and the Candidate countries, and general award criteria for the selection of Destinations of Excellence 2016 were accordingly defined.

Europe is a key cultural tourism destination, with a large number of major cultural sites and a strong flow of culturally-motivated international and domestic visitors. It is estimated that cultural tourism accounts for around 50% of all European tourism. The great variety of European cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – represents an important competitive advantage. Furthermore, EU cultural heritage is a catalyst for creativity and growth. Cultural tourism generates new tourism flows, jobs, undertakings in the cultural and creative sectors not only in capital cities but also in rural and/or post-industrial areas helping to mitigate economic decline. Investing in cultural tourism is a way to ensure that benefits go to a wide range of SMEs and eventually all citizens. Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016.

In 2017 destinations12 which might be awarded are those which have developed a specific tourism offer based on their local tangible cultural assets (i.e. cultural-historical heritage or contemporary culture, such as traditional historical or archaeological monuments/sites, industrial sites, museums, theatres, galleries, contemporary architectural sites, modern urban districts, "ethnic pockets" of towns, etc)13. The specific tourism offer should have been implemented at least since 2015.

For the purpose of the present invitation to submit a proposal, “destination” means:

  • A geographic area that is currently or potentially attractive to visitors/tourists;
  • The geographic area shall cover (at least) one municipality or more (contiguous) municipalities;
  • A place or area which is recognised and can easily be defined as a visitor destination and has a range of facilities and products in place for tourism purposes;
  • A place or area which is promoted as a destination;
  • A place or area where it is possible to measure the supply of and demand for tourism services i.e. the visitor economy.

In 2007-2008, the EDEN call for proposals focused on the "intangible" part of cultural heritage under the theme of "Tourism and local intangible heritage".

General requirements

Applicants have to design a scheme for an open national competition to select one destination of excellence. Proposals must indicate the most effective activities and mechanisms to develop and implement the proposed scheme.

Each scheme has to be presented through a comprehensive description of the relevant activities and its methodology (i.e. methods for its implementation and the reasons for the proposed methodology must be clearly outlined).

Activities to be carried out

Applicants are free to propose the activities they consider relevant. However, it is essential that all activities are clearly related to the objectives of the invitation to submit a proposal (i.e. the selection of one destination of excellence following an open competition).

As a minimum requirement, the proposal has to describe in detail all of the following activities:

Implementation of the scheme for the selection of one destination of excellence and up to 4 runners-up

All activities must be described in a comprehensive way, in a coherent chronological order by work packages.

Establishment of clear, logical and coherent general and specific award criteria

Applicants must apply in their proposal the following mandatory general award criteria:

1) Eligible destinations must be emerging, non-traditional and off-the beaten track,

2) Eligible destinations must offer authentic tourism experiences (i.e. a sense of place must be embedded across all activities),

3) Eligible destinations must have local authorities with a capacity in managing their destination in a way to ensure social, cultural and environmental sustainability (i.e. authorities must have a system for involving public, private and community stakeholders in planning and decision making),

4) Eligible destinations must have a management destination organisation that has a capacity in sustainable tourism management (i.e. an effective organisation, board, department, group or Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016 committee must be responsible for a coordinated approach to destination marketing and sustainable tourism with involvement of the private and public sector and having a sustainable destination development strategy);

5) Eligible destinations must have agencies, NGOs or authorities with a capacity in adopting sustainable tourism practices.

In addition, applicants have to propose a set of specific award criteria which will apply to the selection procedure. Specific criteria must be established at the level of the participating countries to take into account the specific characteristics of their own destinations. These criteria must be clear, logical and coherent. They can be fine-tuned during the first phase of the project and must take into account the overall objective of the EDEN initiative (see point 1 “Background”).

Examples of specific award criteria related to the theme of the present invitation to submit a proposal that could be considered (the list is not exhaustive) are the following:

1) Quality and richness/uniqueness/originality of tourism offer based on local tangible cultural assets;

2) Cultural tourism constitutes an integral part of the local tourism strategy;

3) Cultural tourism influences local economic development and growth in the destination;

4) Effective promotional activities and marketing initiatives enhance local tangible cultural assets in the destination;

5) A special event focusing on the local tangible cultural assets is organised on a regular basis in the destination;

6) Respect of local people (e.g. ensuring that the environment and quality of life of local people is enhanced by cultural tourism; encouraging local people to become involved in enhancing the quality of the visitor experience; organising small scale attractions and events which involve the local community; etc);

7) Enhancement of the value of the local tangible cultural assets among the local people (e.g. programmes aiming at increasing awareness of the importance of local tangible cultural assets among local inhabitants, in particular youngsters; specific training for traditional skills and know-how transmission).

Information campaign to potential candidates and guidance during the application process

Applicants have to describe how they will organise an information campaign to disseminate information about an open competition and reach all potential candidate destinations (i.e. direct emails, press releases, web sites, info days, seminars, etc.) and how they will support them for the submission of the applications (e.g. clear and concise guidelines for potential entrants could be foreseen; help desk activities; etc.). Visibility of the EU support to the project must be raised (specifying the EU co-funding, using EDEN and EC logo all over the information campaign).

Selection of the winner destination of excellence and of up to 4 runners-up

Organisation of the decision-making process is at the discretion of the applicants provided that the established framework is respected (i.e. theme of excellence and general award criteria). The applicants are however required to develop a final list of general and specific criteria, parameters to evaluate the applications and the procedure to assess the applications.

The representatives of an impartial evaluation committee may visit all short-listed destinations to verify their tourism offer and their approach to making destinations more sustainable. Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016

Each applicant has to substantiate its choice of the winning destinations and 4 runners-up via transparent reporting (e.g. minutes of the selection meeting). It is expected that a final ranking of 1 winner and maximum 4 runners-up is drawn up.

Organisation of a national awards ceremony

Applicants have to describe how they will organise the national Awards ceremony. At least 3 national journalists and the European Commission Representation/Delegation must be invited to participate in the event in order to raise the visibility of the project in the participating country.

Organisation of a national network of the destinations of excellence

Applicants must describe how they will facilitate network activities of the winning destination and the runners-up respecting the award criteria, and which kind of support will be provided to the national network.

Submission of a “Dossier on the winner destination” and “Dossiers on the 4 runners-up”

At the end of the selection, applicants must submit a dossier on the selected destination of excellence and a dossiers on up to 4 runners-up to EASME. Each of the dossiers must be concise (maximum 10 pages) and follow the template provided in Annex 2 and 3.

All of these above-mentioned requirements must be clearly taken into consideration.

The following activities are not considered relevant to the objective of the invitation to submit a proposal: rewarding the selected destinations with a money prize or recruiting a consultant to assist the selected destinations to improve their marketing strategies at the end of the process. All activities of follow up are not eligible under this invitation to submit a proposal, except those linked to the activities of the national network of selected destinations if performed during the implementation of the action.

Deliverables

The expected deliverables of the project are:

  • the selection of one destination of excellence and up to 4 runners-up;
  • a “Dossier on the winner destination” presenting in English the selected destination and “Dossiers on the 4 runners-up” presenting those destinations.

In these dossiers, the applicant must describe the selected destinations and the reasons for their nomination.

The dossiers of all selected destinations of excellence and of all runners-up will be must be of about 10 pages (A4 size) and mainly focus on the presentation of the destination in a marketing perspective and description of the initiative(s) undertaken which justifies its nomination. It is important that their initiatives are presented in a way to underline why they have been considered as a good practice in the field of sustainable tourism.

In order to facilitate and speed up this work, applicants are requested to submit a reader-friendly document in English. A detailed template of the "Dossier on the winner destination” and the “Dossiers on the 4 runners-up" is provided in Annex 2 and Annex 3.

The dossiers must be forwarded in two paper copies as well as on CD ROM or USB stick (document in word format) with a view to ensuring the availability of the content by electronic communication means. Terms of Reference: GRO/SME/16/C/071 - European Destinations of Excellence – Selection 2016.

Promotional material on the selected destination and the runners-up (brochures, leaflet, etc.), high resolution photos and other images (for ex. logo of the project if existent) must be inserted in the paper dossier and in the CD ROM or USB stick and must not be included directly in the text of the dossier.