CesR Handbook available for download in 8 languages!

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First published in English and distributed during the final conference of the CesR project, the Recommendations Handbook created by all CesR partners is now available in the 8 languages of the project: English, French, Czech, Polish, Greek, Spanish, Latvian and Slovene.

You can download it here in PDF format.

The aim of the CesR project is to picture how to increase the range of services proposed to the customers in self-catering tourist accommodation, in order to improve the quality of their stay, but also to create new jobs in the services sector in rural areas.

This document gathers many good practices identified during the CesR project and organized in five thematic booklets:

  • Introduction
  • Business models which maximize the creation of services and jobs in self-catering accommodation
  • Added value based on diversification of services and personalized activities
  • Cooperation models for creating jobs and services
  • Human resources management in rural area

In this Handbook you might find new ideas and solutions for your own region. Have a look at it and Enjoy!

The 5 booklets of the CesR Recommendations Handbook and their folder (French visual)

The 5 booklets of the CesR Recommendations Handbook and their folder (French visual)

Social Cooperative “Haven” in Raciechowice (Poland): efficient cooperation between public entities

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Social Cooperative “Haven” is presented in CesR project as one of the examples of good human resources management in rural areas. This Cooperative offers a range of services in Myślenice County (673.3 km², population ca. 123 000), which is a rural area in Małopolska Voivodeship in Southern Poland. Main tasks of the Cooperative include providing catering, maintenance and housekeeping services on daily basis in three local schools in Raciechowice Municipality (61 km², population approx. 6 000 residents). Other activities include food catering services to local residents and employees of local companies, and the same services for meetings, conferences and events. The members (employees) of the Cooperative also operate a guesthouse (20 beds), with kitchen facilities and conference room. They also actively participate in cultural life of the region, especially by cultivating local and regional tradition.

Guesthouse in Kwapinka village

Guesthouse in Kwapinka village

In 2011 the Municipality had some problems with financing the operation of several kitchens in local schools planned for the following year. It meant that 18 persons would lose their job in the next few months. Those persons (mainly cooks) were skilled only in that field, as they had been working in the same position for many years. In some cases these people were the only employed persons in their families. For a municipality of approximately 6 000 residents, it meant a big problem: additional unemployed persons meant extra costs for the Municipality and decreased number tax payers.

According to the national legal framework, municipalities are not allowed to carry out any sort of commercial activity. Instead of outsourcing catering services after public procurement (which would be an easier solution) the Municipality authorities decided to establish a social cooperative. Volunteer Fire Brigade from Kwapinka village joined this idea and both entities created a social cooperative which allowed them not only to maintain work places but even to create some new jobs by converting a closed school into a guesthouse with various facilities for tourism purposes.

This public-private initiative allows children from three local schools to enjoy traditional meals that have been prepared and delivered by employees of “Haven” since January 2012. Every day they prepare more than 400 meals. Meals are also delivered to employees of local companies and to ordinary residents, mostly older people (approx. additional 40 meals daily). The Cooperative uses specially adapted vehicle to deliver the food. Moreover, various companies or individuals organizing meetings, conferences and events in the area, may also order catering services from “Haven”. The prices of catering services and food are very reasonable (e.g. soup PLN 2.50 [€ 0.60]; main course PLN 7.50 [€ 1.80]). Catering is often ordered by individuals for their private celebrations or for pickers in the orchards during the picking season. In addition, the employees of the Cooperative provide maintenance and housekeeping services in the three local schools, including: cooking (in the morning) and housekeeping/cleaning (in the afternoon). The working day starts at 6 a.m. and finishes at 2 p.m. In case of extra hours (catering during different events, working at tourist accommodation facilities), the employees are paid extra.

Catering products of Social Cooperative “Haven”

Catering products of Social Cooperative “Haven”

The Social Cooperative “Haven” currently employs 18 full time employees and additional 6 persons contracted for specific tasks. All these employees got a chance to return to the job market and the possibility of professional and social activation and stabilization. Cultural activities prepared by the Cooperation are important both for cultural life of the municipality and for good relations and trust between employees and local population. Social effect is very important, as members of the Cooperative feel accepted by the public authorities and by local residents: together they discover the importance of team-work cooperation and responsibility. Members of fire-brigade help the Social Cooperative members with cleaning, mowing, collecting garbage and in other demanding works, whereas Social Cooperative members help firemen to prepare their events and celebrations.

Since April 2012 the Social Cooperative also manages a guesthouse in Kwapinka village, located in a renovated old school building. The guesthouse is situated in a quiet and peaceful area, has five guest rooms with private bathrooms, equipped kitchen and a conference room with multimedia equipment. Outside the building, its users may enjoy a multifunctional playing field with artificial turf, playground, pergola, barbecue facilities and a roofed stage. Tourists may choose between self-catering, Bed & Breakfast option, half-board or full-board service, or they may order a full refrigerator at the moment of check-in. The employees of the Social Cooperative also offer their services in helping tourists to organize their activities in local area (walks, biking) offering guided walks in the surrounding hills (some of the members are licensed mountain guides). They also organise meetings and different events (i.e. conferences, courses, birthdays, weddings). In certain months the Cooperative’s income share from tourism services reaches 30%.

Accommodation services operated by the Cooperative support the development of tourism in the municipality. In general, the number of tourists increases, but there are still periods with very few visitors. The target customers are groups of tourists, as it is more economical and easier to organize their stay, housekeeping and other services (e.g. catering). Approximately a half of the guests are participants of meetings and events, while the other half consists of family with small children and other tourists. Marketing the tourist services is based mainly on the Internet and leaflets; however the best way of promotion are recommendations of former visitors/clients. When the guesthouse is fully booked, tourists are offered another accommodation in the Municipality, which increases the cooperation and good relations between the Social Cooperative and other entities providing tourist services.

Catering products of Social Cooperative “Haven”

Catering products of Social Cooperative “Haven”

At the very beginning, funds from the Agency of Development and Promotion of Cooperative Movement (project INES – Infrastructure of Social Economy in Małopolska Region) helped the founders of Social Cooperative “Haven” to educate themselves in the rules of social cooperative business. The Agency also provided valuable advice during the process of setting up and registering the organization. The resources gained from the Regional Centre of Social Policy in Cracow (Regionalny Ośrodek Polityki Społecznej w Krakowie) were used for furnishing the guesthouse and two kitchens. Project “Equipping the work-stand of unemployed person” enabled the Cooperative to gain funds from the County Employment Agency in Myślenice (seat of the County). These funds were used to purchase a cleaning machine and create another job (one person was employed). Another person was employed by using the funds from RESTART project (European Social Fund, one of the five European Structural and Investment Funds – ESIF) set up to activate people aged 45+.

Room in the guesthouse

Room in the guesthouse

During the last 3 years the success of the Cooperative is noticeable. The number of ordered meals is stable and even shows an increasing trend, indicating that consumers are satisfied with the food and that the pricing policy is reasonable. A few new jobs have been created after establishing the Cooperative. The number of tourists is increasing, as well as the use of various services provided by the members of the Cooperative. Also the number of study visits to Social Cooperative “Haven” increased: there is a great interest in transferring the knowledge (know-how), and at the same time visitors become direct users of Cooperative’ services.

In the future, “Haven” plans to expand its services, find the new markets, create additional full-time jobs, establish closer cooperation with other cooperatives and purchase new equipment (mostly for kitchen in order to prepare food faster).

The Social Cooperative “Haven” is a great example of cooperation between a local community, non-governmental organization and municipality self-government. This good practice demonstrates that establishing a social cooperative may:

  • provide direct benefits for many various members of local community
  • result in creating additional jobs in rural areas
  • reintegrate unemployed people with the society and create healthy relations
  • help local tradition to survive (cultural activities of the cooperative)
  • increase economic activity in the local area
  • support tourism development in the local area
  • become a new source of income for non-governmental organizations
Meeting of the CesR project partners with the Mayor of Raciechowice in the guesthouse’s conference room, June 2014

Meeting of the CesR project partners with the Mayor of Raciechowice in the guesthouse’s conference room, June 2014

There are several conditions for successful transfer of this practice:

  • national and local legislation should be adjusted to facilitate establishing social cooperatives;
  • support of local government;
  • human capital: engaged people treating cooperative as their own company;
  • trust among the partners;
  • local understanding (local residents should also perceive the cooperative as beneficial for them, to avoid competitiveness support cooperation and the use of services offered by the cooperative);
  • the funds from different agencies are very helpful, especially during the kick-off period and for infrastructure (buildings/ renovation/ equipping);
  • flexibility of employees, as the provided services are very diverse and must be performed by the same persons (cooking, housekeeping, tourism services).

If the food catering services for local school are already organized, there are numerous fields for introducing this kind of operation. The networking with other cooperatives is important (sharing experiences, management or even employees), as well as cooperation with competitors (i.e. informing tourists about other accommodation/services and vice versa).

Focus on the CesR final conference

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On the 7th of October, during the Open Days 2014 in Brussels, the CesR final conference took place.

During this conference, CesR project partners delivered the main results of the project: good practices as regards job-pooling solutions (business models, specific job-sharing organizations…) aimed at improving social inclusion in rural areas by creating new jobs opportunities in the economic sectors of tourism and the care services.

The content of the event was the following:

Chair: Mr. René SOUCHON, President of the Regional Council of Auvergne, France

Moderator: Mr. Thomas DUCLOUTRIER, CesR project coordinator, Regional Tourism Development Board of Auvergne, France


  • Mr. Akos SZABO, Project Officer, Interreg IVC Joint Technical Secretariat: “INTERREG IVC state of play and perspectives”

Presentation available here.

  • Prof. Marek WIECKOWSKI, Head of Department, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland: “The CesR project: main findings and conclusions”

Presentation available here.

  • Mr. Kyriakos Evdoras GEORGIOU, Researcher, Troodos Development Company, Cyprus: “The Casale Panayiotis tourist accommodation case: a joint management body as a tool for rural regeneration”

Presentation available here.

  • Mr. Fergal GOUGH, Community & Enterprise Development Officer, Cork County Council, Ireland: “Examples of innovative Irish business models which maximize the creation of services and jobs in self-catering accommodation”

Presentation available here.

About 80 participants from all over Europe participated to this final event of the project. All of them received the Technical Handbook produced by CesR project partners. This document gathers many interesting examples and initiatives tackling the following issues:

  • Business models which maximize the creation of services and jobs in self-catering accommodation
  • Added value based on diversification of services and personalized activities
  • Cooperation models for creating jobs and services
  • Human resources management in rural area

This handbook is available in English here, and will soon be available on the “Downloads” section in all the languages of the project. Please don’t hesitate to download and disseminate it!

Opening address by President René Souchon

Opening address by President René Souchon

Moderator Mr.Thomas Ducloutrier & Speaker Mr. Kyriakos Georgiou

Moderator Mr.Thomas Ducloutrier & Speaker Mr. Kyriakos Georgiou

Participants of the CesR conference

Participants of the CesR conference

CesR partners meeting in Malopolska Region (Poland)

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The partners of CesR project took part in a four-day study visit (02.-06.06.2014) organised by the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences. The aim of this study visit was to present and discuss identified good practices of cooperation in rural areas of Malopolska Region, which meet various criteria of the project. 21 participants from 9 countries had the opportunity to experience Malopolska.

Participants of CesR study visit to Malopolska Region

Participants of CesR study visit to Malopolska Region

At the beginning of the study trip, participants met Mrs. Katarzyna Łagosz, the representative of a “The Plum Trail Association” (www.nasliwkowymszlaku.pl/; www.theplum.eu) – a local action group. This association gathers 137 members (mostly SME and providers of tourism services) from 7 different, but geographically connected municipalities.  A plum is the symbol of local tradition and culture used by all associated municipalities to promote their region in the activities carried out by all members of the action group. The Association has created the “Plum trail”, which combines various types of tourism and other services within the region. Implemented activities are more than just marketing actions, as the Association cooperates also with local and regional governments, working for local development strategy. It also supports, coordinates and advises its members in their ideas and helps them to gather funds for projects in line with the Association’s strategy. “The Plum Trail Association” has established a variety of activities and goals, but the most important one is the development of local area, focused on improving the quality of life of its residents by retaining and creating sustainable jobs for them. During the study trip, the CesR partners had opportunity to meet and talk with several members of “The Plum Trail Association”, e.g. Mrs. Urszula Kamińska, the owner of “Nowizny” vineyard  (www.winnicanowizny.pl), Mr. Stanisław Nowak, an owner of a horticultural farm (www.stawy-zmiaca.pl), Mrs. Bogusława Pajor, an educator from the Association (workshops), and owners of “Bacówka Biały Jeleń” agritourism farm (http://bacowka.com.pl). The members of the Association confirmed good practices applied within the Association and benefits of their membership.

“Nowizny” vineyard and treats offered by members of “The Plum Trail Association”

Visit at “Nowizny” vineyard and treats offered by members of “The Plum Trail Association”

The second part of the study trip was focused on good practices in two social cooperatives in the municipality of Raciechowice (approx. 6000 residents), where the local authorities, NGOs and interested parties try to maintain the employment level or even create new workplaces for people experiencing difficulties in finding a job.  In almost less three years they have created 29 jobs and there are plans for more. Three meetings were arranged at two different places to demonstrate good practices, and to provide the visitors with an opportunity to present their work and discuss with other CesR participants. The first presentation and discussion took place in the headquarters of Social Cooperative “Forge of taste” (http://sskuzniasmaku.pl/), which was established in 2013 with the goal to produce traditional food products from local fruits and vegetables, bought directly from local farmers. The social aspect of this initiative is implemented by offering jobs to unemployed persons with abilities other than those required at the local labour market (i.e. local artists, craftsmen, people of obsolete occupations, etc.).

Social Cooperative “The forge of taste”

Presentation of Social Cooperative “The forge of taste”

The next presentation and discussion was led by  Mr. Marek Gabzdyl, the Mayor of the Raciechowice Municipality (http://www.raciechowice.pl/), who explained the models of specific public-private initiatives applied by social cooperatives and local authorities. The third meeting was hosted by Mrs. Barbara Miąsko, a representative of Social Cooperative “Haven” (http://shespa.nazwa.pl/przystan/). This entity offers a wide range of services focusing on preparing and catering food for local schools and providing maintenance/housekeeping services in four schools of the municipality. Other activities include food catering services to local residents and employees of local companies, and the same services for meetings, conferences and events. The members (employees) of the Cooperative also operate a guesthouse (20 beds), with kitchen facilities and conference room. They also actively participate in cultural life of the region, especially by cultivating local and regional traditions. Social Cooperative “Haven” is a good example of the cooperation between local community, non-governmental organizations and municipality self-government.

Meeting with Mayor of Raciechowice

Meeting with Mayor of Raciechowice

The final example of good practices, selected by Polish team for presentation, was a ski-resort that managed to avoid seasonality in the demand for its services by preparing an additional offer that may attract tourists throughout the round. Employees of this resort are skilled in different fields, so they can easily switch to other professions, when it is needed. The ski resort (“Czorsztyn-ski Resort”http://www.czorsztyn-ski.com.pl/) is located in the mountains near the Polish-Slovakian border and surrounded by a few national parks.  The policies and goals of the Resort were presented by its owners  and after the presentation CesR project participants took part in a guided tour around of the resort and enjoyed some of its attractions .

The visit was summed up during Project’s Steering Committee Meeting and Technical Meeting in order to evaluate presented good practices and discuss possibilities of their transfer from Malopolska Region to other European Regions.

CesR Technical Meeting

Discussion during the Technical Meeting

For additional information about this study visit please contact Polish organizers:

Marek Więckowski, marekw@twarda.pan.pl

Magdalena Górczyńska,  mgor@twarda.pan.pl

Denis Cerić, d.ceric@twarda.pan.pl


CesR project events in Slovenia

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In the second week of April 2014 project partners visited Slovenia where a full project programme when visiting a partner region was prepared. The programme consisted of a conference, study tour as well the project partner steering committee and technical meeting.

International conference

The first day of the visit (8th of April) was dedicated to an international conference which was organised in Moravske Toplice with the title “Employment in the Services Sector – Opportunities for the Development of Rural Areas” with the aim to present potentials for jobs creation through the development of the service sector in rural areas. There were a total of 97 participants from all over the country, mostly from the fields of rural development, tourism industry and social entrepreneurship as well delegates from the partner regions which contributed to the success of the event.

After the opening words of Mr Gönc from Regional Development Agency Mura and Mr Glavač, Mayor of Municipality Moravske Toplice, Mr Ducloutrier from Regional Committee for Tourism Development of Auvergne in the role of the lead partner introduced the CesR project. Mr Ducloutrier (also CesR’s project manager) presented 2 interesting examples of jobs sharing solutions from Auvergne in France, namely GE2A Group of Employers which is a non-profit association that recruits staff to make them available for its members and Exceltio Job Share Company which offers provision of qualified personnel among businesses which cannot recruit themselves, due to their size or their means.

Mrs Pak from Slovene Public Agency for Promotion of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Development, Investment and Tourism gave a detailed insight into development and promotion activities of Slovene tourism while Mr Gönc presented the situation for the Pomurje region.

The next series of presentations was dedicated to social entrepreneurship where Mr Slapnik from Slovenian Forum of Social Entrepreneurship presented the legislative framework and potentials of social entrepreneurship in Slovenia, Mr Buda from Institute Slovenian Homes Hospitality the initiatives of integration of small tourism providers into local tourism cooperatives and Mrs Kovačič from Cooperative Konjice a good practice on local self-sufficiency with local food production.

Prim. Majič, specialist internist cardiologist engaged by Sava Tourism to develop the sector of medical tourism, informed the forum about health tourism development perspective in Slovenia.

The core of the conference was dedicated to project’s findings where the following experts (representatives of project partners) presented one of the good practices that have been identified within the project in their partner regions:

– Mr Večeř from Regional Authority of the Olomouc Region has introduced highly successful local product branding system in Olomouc region;

– Dr Górczyńska from Polish Academy of Sciences presented the company Biebrza Eco Travel, the travel agency which is the generator of employment and tourism development in the area of Biebrza Wetlands;

– Mr Theodotou from the Troodos Development Company in Cyprus has introduced Casale Panayiotis case – an innovative approach in common management of different accommodation facilities;

– Mr Oliver Berta from County Council of Granada in Spain has presented good practice Caves of Tio Tobas – an example of integrated cultural tourism, leisure and ecotourism project;

– Dr Zeibote from the University of Latvia presented the Gauja National Park Tourism Cluster which is helping to develop a potential for innovations and this way increasing business activity in the region;

– Mrs Carroll from Cork County Council in Ireland presented Ballymaloe Country House – an example of sustainable approach to farming, food tourism and self-catering accommodation.

CesR Conference in Moravske Toplice

Conference in Moravske Toplice, 8th of April 2014

All the presentations form the conference can be accessed using the following link: http://web.rra-mura.com/page.aspx?top=5&sub=183&rd=187&title=CESR&rdm=NOVICE IN DOGODKI

‘Feeling Slovenia’: Study Visits

After the conference eight CesR study visits took place organised by the hosting partner – Regional Development Agency Mura.   During the study visits project partners had the chance to get acquainted with some of concrete good practices in field of rural development with the stress on development of services in tourism and social entrepreneurship.

During the first day the focus was on Pomurje region where  following the conference presentation of health care and wellness services in spa resort Terme 3000 took place.

Next was the visit of company Ocean orchids in Dobrovnik with Tropical garden which is an example of diversification of primary economic activity using geothermal potential of the area to tourism. Cooperative Pomelaj in Mala Polana represents a Rural Development Core which is developing socio-corporate forms (culture) among rural population, especially among vulnerable target groups in activities that have traditionally been tied to the countryside (local crafts, culinary tradition etc.).

Finally project partners visited business Kodila near Murska Sobota with show-casing of the traditional production of Prekmurje ham as well as The Scent of Prekmurje trademark – this brings together a range of quality food products from different manufacturers and has been developed to integrate the region’s potentials in the fields of quality foodstuffs and traditional gastronomy.

Cooperative Pomelaj and traditional ham producer Kodila

Project partners visiting Cooperative Pomelaj and traditional ham producer Kodila, 8th of April 2014

The Posavje region was the second day destination.

Firstly a visit took place in Bizeljsko to present the tourism in repnice (tourism in turnip caves). Repnice as a local speciality are caves dug in flint stone which was washed up by Pannonian sea and got name after turnip (repa), because locals stored turnip and other products of the field in them. Today the sand caves are part of autochthon, historical, ethnological and cultural heritage of the region and became one of most interesting sights of the region.

The Association of providers of tourism in zidanice (tourism in vineyard cottages) was next to present. Their business organization is a cooperative while vineyard cottages represent a unique feature in the wine growing region of Posavje which stands for authentic and genuine tourist arrangements. To round the visit to the region 2 other visits followed – first was wine and tourism business Istenič with presentation of its history, philosophy, production of sparkling wines, still wines and balsamic vinegar as well development of wine tourism with self-catering accommodation and the second was Skansen Pleterje which is an open air museum representing local heritage in deep rural area as an important monument to Slovene traditional civil engineering, characteristic type of national architecture and the 19th century way of life.

presentation of tourism in repnice and tourism in vineyard cottages

During the presentation of tourism in Repnice and tourism in vineyard cottages, 9th of April 2014

The third day of the study tour started with the presentation of Bled Tourist Board where partners were informed about the destination’s view and plans in terms of sustainable tourism development and connected job creation potentials in service sector.

After that followed a presentation of Competence centre Semenj.si which stands for tourist products with the heritage dimension. This initiative is linking the concepts of “culture” and “tourism” to create a new concept of cultural tourism which implies tourism services with a strong emphasis on cultural content.

The last destination to visit was Notranjsko-Kraška region where first visit took place at the Institute for preservation of natural and cultural heritage Jezerski hram (“Lake temple”) with presentation of history, philosophy, as well as educational, tourist promotion, natural and cultural heritage preservation activities of the institute which offers also a museum with unique model of Lake Cerknica (the largest intermittent lake in the world) and a rich ethnological park.

Following initiatives for education and employment of Notranjska Ecological Centre were presented. Namely this non-governmental organisation which operates as a competence centre for project management, entrepreneurship, education, sustainable and rural development of the destination implements numerous activities and projects (also in the role of leader of Slovenian Network of eco-consultants).

Finally partners were introduced to the concept of interpretation of nature and heritage in destination (heritage communities) with presentations on history and development of micro destination Cerknica, its strategy of tourism development in protected area, forms of associations of providers, concept of standardization of providers and employment situation in the services sector.

During the meeting with local representatives, participants discussed also the importance of heritage communities as a tool for sustainable development and their importance for the conservation of cultural heritage as well as job creation.

Bled Tourist Board and Institute Jezerski hram

Presentations of Bled Tourist Board and Institute Jezerski hram, 10th of April 2014

The County Council of Granada and the Entrepreneurs approach the tourism as an engine for rural development

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Last 20th of may, the County Council of Granada, through the employment and provincial development Department, organized the participatory workshops -Capacity of the Tourism as an Engine for Rural Development-. The main objective of this meeting was to bring to the entrepreneurs to the new business opportunities that are being opened in the rural tourism sector.

These workshops were organized in the framework of Tourage and CesR Projects (INTERREG IVC Programme, co financed by European Funds of Regional Development), which main aim is to promote the identification of Good Practices and the exchange of experiences in the rural tourism sector at european level.

This meeting was developed in Trópolis Interpretative Centre, in Valley of Zalabí, counting with a very important participation of entrepreneurs of the province willing to share experiences, identify new opportunities and create business networks to allow the rural tourism sector of the province becomes in the real engine for the economic development of rural areas.

The tourism is a very changed industry and the evolution is an essential strategy for the commercialization of touristic resources. The principal issues treated were related to marketing, new sale channels and social networks.

Furthermore, the assistants participated in three rotatory activities where they worked intensively on such important issues as the followings: Complete the accommodation offer with local services to encourage the employment; Reflection about the clients profile; Accessibility and senior tourism. The senior population is being become in one of the most important segments of age for rural tourism, mainly from Germany, Holland, Belgium and Sweden ….. It´s essential adapt our rural and nature tourism offer to this client profile.

Lastly and as example how to do other ways of rural tourism to improve our offer, three successful experiences developed in other regions with more tradition in this sector were explained. These examples are related to enotourism, marketing of adapted rural tourism and complementary activities and services to the accommodation offer to stimulate the local employment.

As a result of this meeting, after more than 10 hours of work, the entrepreneurs expressed their satisfaction with the use of such a practical methodology, by the new ideas emerged to incorporate to their services and touristic products,  and they took leave hopeful in similar future meetings that allows them to advance their business strategies.

Tourage CesR meeting

Tío Tobas Cave-Homes integrated cultural tourism, leisure and ecotourism project in a different and sustainable rural housing: cave-homes

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Tio Tobas

Tío Tobas cave-homes are located in the Guadix Region, northern Granada, in a natural environment 1 Km from Alcudia of Guadix, with an excellent access by road through the A-92 highway. In an unique enclave of natural and cultural diversity with panoramic views of Sierra Nevada, an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, these caves are an unique tourism product, since there is no other habitat of this kind in Europe.

The visitor of these Cave-Homes has the opportunity to see how an ancient system of occupation of the natural environment, the troglodyte habitat, has perpetuated for millennia without losing its essence. Its architectural originality, constant temperature and its cosy, intimate and rustic environment, have made these cave-homes a very popular and highly appreciated  type of lodging.

Tio Tobas cave-homes are a quality-approved rural tourist accommodation, situated between three Natural Parks and adhered to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. This rural tourist accommodation is also accredited by Information Point of the National Park of Sierra Nevada.

This rural tourist accommodation has 19 different independent houses, with traditional decoration and luxurious details. All of them have bedrooms, a living room with fireplace. Although the room temperature is constant throughout the year (18ºC), fully equipped  kitchen, and a bathroom. Also it has a terrace and/or garden. Cave-homes adapted for disabled people are also available.  The offer of Tío Tobas cave-homes is designed for all types of tourists (disabled people, young people, families, friends and business meetings). In addition to these 19 cave-homes, this tourist accommodation has a pool, restaurant, cafe, Wifi area, company activities, crafts and cuisine of the Guadix region, and an Exhibition- Shop with products from the Natural Park of Andalusia. Also it offers a museum and interpretative centre -workshop (Trópolis) for recovery, enhancement and dissemination of troglodytism and Ethnographic Heritage in the area. This rural tourist accommodation also offers take-out food and laundry service for clients.

This tourist accommodation organises different activities:

  • Horse carriage rides to Guadix
  • Horseback trail rides
  • Route from Guadix to Tío Tobas Cave-Homes
  • Riding lessons

4 routes in 4×4 vehicles allow the tourist to get to know the environment and enjoy resources and special landscapes.

  • Bike routes and rail cycling
  • Trekking routes
  • Route of the mountains
  • River Fardes-Sierra de Baza route
  • Marquesado route
  • Alhama river valley route

Tío Tobas Cave-Homes along with the rest of the business members of the European  Charter of Sustainable Tourism of Sierra Nevada has launched a catalogue of tourist packages in order to promote the territory with uniform criteria in line with the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism:

  • Birdwatching in Sierra Nevada
  • Water culture in Sierra Nevada
  • Mycology in Sierra Nevada
  • Human footprint in Sierra Nevada
  • Photography in Sierra Nevada
  • Horse riding in Sierra Nevada

This multidimensional expressions of culture was created  in Tio Tobas Cave-Homes resort, as a centre of  exploration, appreciation and dissemination of the ethnographic heritage of the region of Guadix that is centred around where around five fundamental representations of the heritage of the region: Bread, Cheese, Wine, Craft and Troglodytism.

Any time of year is interesting to visit Tío Tobas Cave-Homes and enjoy the friendly and rustic atmosphere of the caves and the natural environment where they are located.

Contact details:

Tío TobasCave-Homes

Carretera de Almería, km 1, (18511) Alcudia de Guadix – Granada

Telephone: +34 958 698 350 / +34 607 622 226

Fax: +34 956 474 024 / +34 958 698 537

Web: www.tiotobas.com

CesR partners meeting in the Province of Granada

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The Provincial Council of Granada received the partners of the CesR project during their transnational meeting which was held between 4 and 8 of November 2013.

The meeting consisted of a series of study visits to different tourism initiatives, during which the representatives of the partnership were able to obtain in-depth knowledge of a diverse selection of best practices, of a varying nature, spread over the entire province, which are the driving force of rural tourism in the areas where they are being implemented.

As well as the visits, over the course of the five days, technical meetings were held about project management and a conference also took place in the coastal town of Motril, attended by over 80 people related to the sector or interested in the theme.

During this conference the first vice-president of the Provincial Council of Granada, Luisa García Chamorro, as the Mayor of Motril, welcomed the participants of the CesR project, and the Deputy Minister of Provincial Employment and Development, María Merinda Sádaba, introduced the experts and technicians who enlightened the participants with their speeches and presentations.

Throughout the day some novel touristic products were presented, which Motril is promoting to diversify sun and beach tourism, making use of the synergies between traditional agriculture and tourism Routes based on three central thematic concepts: subtropical farming, fruit and vegetable production and sugar cane. Equally, the conference addressed the legal framework in Spain for worker-owned companies as a formula for the creation of social employment linked to the development of rural tourism and about the opportunities for rural development via the promotion of tourism for older people (the TOURAGE project, currently being managed by the Provincial Council of Granada). Smartphone applications related to rural tourism in the province of Granada were presented, and of course, a presentation of the CesR project was made to the attendees.

Amongst the study visits carried out, special mention should be made of the study visit on the first day in the Guadix Region in the north of the province of Granada, where partners were able to discover ENTURNA (the international school of rural tourism and nature), as well as a type of rural accommodation very specific to the area, in casas-cueva (cave houses), in their visit to the “Cuevas del tío Tobas” tourist complex.

Another of the visits explained the interesting model of collaboration that the businesses belonging to the Rural Tourism Association of the Lecrín Valley are developing to promote and attend to tourism demands in the area.

Lastly, a visit was made to a good example of a public-private collaboration in the creation of networks of services for tourism in rural areas, arising as the result of a natural monument: La Cueva de las Ventanas (Cave of the Windows) in the Granada locality of Píñar. Its archaeological and touristic interest has led to the creation of multiple services, including: a tourist guide service, showing and interpreting the natural monument; an environmental education centre (farm-school); a restaurant specialising in traditional food from the region; accommodation; transport to the cave and various workshops for visitors, all with the resulting generation of jobs in the municipality.

These study visits and the transnational meeting culminated in a visit to the Council of the Alhambra, a body that manages the main focus of touristic attraction in the province and a centre for study and development around the nasrid cultures.

CesR partners in Granada province

Representatives of the Partner Regions attended the National Conference VENKOV

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CesR partners participated in the VENKOV conference from the 1st to the 3rd of October, 2013. For the first time in its history, the Olomouc region hosted the largest annual meeting of actors of rural development in the Czech Republic. The national conference VENKOV (COUNTRYSIDE) took place in Hranice na Moravě and was attended by more than 400 participants, including representatives of communities, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, farmers, regions and ministries that promote rural development amongst others. For the first time, the national conference VENKOV had also a significant international dimension because it involved more than 50 representatives of local partnerships, regions and even the European Commission.

The aim of this national conference was to discuss the most important problems of the countryside between all relevant actors. For this reason, the conference included five thematic blocks: Agriculture and Countryside, Further Development of Local Government, Experience the Countryside!, Services as a Pathway to Employment and Introduction of CLLD into Practice.

The main problem of countryside is unemployment; this theme thus overarched all the mentioned thematic blocks, being reflected in a discussion about the state support of community service for the long-term unemployed; the support of local production and tourism services; and solutions to rationalization of postal, business and social services in the countryside.

Venkov conference

More information: http://www.venkov2013.cz/

CesR partners regional study visit in Latvia

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A regional study visit of the CesR project partners took place in Latvia from the 9th – 13th September, 2013. The visit was organized by the project partner from Latvia – the Centre for European and Transition Studies (CETS) of the University of Latvia.

During the visit, CesR partners had an opportunity to get themselves acquainted with specific examples of rural tourism and tourism services in various regions of Latvia – Mālpils, Allaži, Sigulda, Bīriņi and Saulkrasti, to discuss the significance of tourism clusters in the regional development with representatives of the Gauja National Park Tourism Cluster and the cluster initiative “Saviļņojošā Vidzeme”, as well as take part in the project conference “Challenges and Opportunities for Enhancing Socioeconomic Development in rural Areas by Promoting Tourism Services”.

The main goal of the CesR conference was to discuss common topical issues and share experiences about solving socioeconomic problems in rural regions, including new job creation by using the potential and opportunities provided by the tourism sector. Special emphasis was placed on the evaluation of diverse forms of cooperation, for instance, evaluation of the influence of cluster initiatives on development of tourism services, as well as an effective use of cultural heritage in promoting tourism development.

Conference Malpils Manor

Conference “Challenges and Opportunities for Enhancing Socioeconomic Development in rural Areas by Promoting Tourism Services”

In addition to the CesR project coordination meetings and the conference, the following meetings took place:

The director of the hotel “Mālpils Manor” Ms Ilze Steķe informed project partners about the history and activities provided by the “Mālpils Manor”. The “Mālpils Manor” functions as a design hotel which offers both accommodation for travelers, as well as premises and catering for weddings and conferences. The hotel’s scope of services includes SPA services, cooking master classes and nature trails both for hiking and cycling.

CesR partners visit the „Mālpils Manor”

CesR partners visit the „Mālpils Manor”

During the study visit, project partners were introduced to the Gauja National park tourism infrastructure. The Gauja National park, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and the historically and culturally valuable heritage found in this region, have a significant role in developing tourism infrastructure and services. Sigulda city and the region around it statistically have the most overnight stays of what is to be considered rural areas in Latvia. Sigulda is the first choice of a rural city for tourists after visiting Riga. Tourism and branches related to it are the main source of income in Sigulda region. Since the restoration of Latvian independence in 1991, the main emphasis is placed on conserving Sigulda’s public monuments and parks, as well as improving the town’s tourist sector. As a notable achievement, it is important to mention that readers of “The Guardian” have recognized Turaida and Gauja river valley as the most beautiful autumn season destination, surpassing both the impressive Merino Glacier in Argentina and the harvest of grapes in Italy.

While visiting the Turaida Museum Reserve CesR project partners had the opportunity to observe the most visited tourism object in Latvia, experience its services and cooperation with other tourism service providers in this regions. Indirectly with help of mass media, the Turaida Museum Reserve has attracted both new businesses and persons from other countries.

The Turaida Museum Reserve is a heritage site. The total number of tourists in 2012 – 220,744 visitors from different countries. The 42 hectares of grounds are replete with archaeological, architectural, historical and art monuments, all of which provide an account of the events from the eleventh century onwards. The events of the Turaida Museum Reserve are multi-faceted: besides setting up exhibitions, activities are geared towards the preservation of the cultural environment, the maintenance and shaping of the landscape, as well as diverse visitor-oriented activities.

Museum Reserve „Turaida”

Museum Reserve „Turaida”

During the visit of the recreation center „Brūveri”, the owner Mr Uldis Dvinskis presented his array of tourism services and the concept of his guest house. The recreation center offers conference room rental and self-catering accommodation, as well as an opportunity to enjoy traditional sauna, surrounding nature and cultural heritage in cooperation with nearby tourism services providers. Today „Brūveri” is the biggest recreation centre in the Sigulda region.

Recreation center „Brūveri”

Recreation center „Brūveri”

The owner of another guest house „Mauriņi” located in the Sigulda region Mrs. Māra Zemdega presented her approach in providing tourism services, and informed that the guest house mainly specializes in large scale events and services linked with them. Owner of the guest house “Mauriņi” attracts local workforce depending on the specifics of the demanded activities during an event.

Guest house „Mauriņi”

Guest house „Mauriņi”

During the meeting with representatives of the Gauja National Park Tourism Cluster participants discussed the importance of a unified management and coordination system for reaching common tourism goals, as well as the usefulness of attracting investment, introducing innovations and ensuring flow of information and knowledge. The triple helix – Collaboration between businesses, local authorities and the Vidzeme University, was mentioned as a key element for ensuring effective operation of the cluster while achieving its objectives. The Gauja National Park (GNP) tourism cluster initiative began in late 2011, thus associating more than 50 players, mostly tourism providers, six municipalities, Vidzeme University and others. The association “Sigulda Region Tourism Association” in September 2012 signed an agreement with the Latvian Investment and Development Agency with regard to funding and implementing the project “Gauja National Park Tourism cluster”.

During a meeting in the Saulkrasti regional council, representatives of the cluster initiative “Saviļņojošā Vidzeme”, Saulkrasti municipality and tourism industry informed about the cooperation between municipalities along the seashore for developing tourism infrastructure in this area.

In addition, CesR partners went to the “Bīriņi Castle” and saw how wedding ceremonies and business events are organized there. The “Bīriņi Castle” permanently employs around 60 people.

The main emphasis of the CesR study visit was on new cooperation forms between representatives of the tourism industry, including clusters and cluster initiatives, and various tourism management examples, drawing attention to the idea of creation, restoration and improvement of infrastructure, as well as a skillful use of natural and cultural heritage, thus creating a foundation for attracting investment and people to a region and social provisions of good quality.


Contact person from the University of Latvia: Mr Kārlis Muižnieks, ph.: +371 29475144, e-mail: karlis.muiznieks@gmail.com.