On 26 May 2020 the European Association of the Via Francigena ways EAVF participated in the Final Conference of the Cult-Ring Interreg Europe project, which took place by a videoconference.The Cult-Ring – Cultural Routes as Investment for Growth and Jobs – project was carried out in 2017-2020 under the management of the European Cultural Tourism Network ECTN in partnership with the Europa Nostra and the European Travel Commission. It is an inter-regional cooperation project for improving natural and cultural heritage policies in the Interreg Europe Programme.
Among many regions participating in the project, it was the Lazio region – the EAVF member, which represented the Via Francigena and directly benefited from the Cult-Ring.
The final conference brought together all the stakeholders of the project and enjoyed presentations of István Ujhelyi MEP, Vice-Chair of Transport and Tourism Committee in the European Parliament; Sneška Quaedvlieg – Mihailovic, Europa Nostra Secretary-General and Iulia Niculica from the European Travel Commission.
The EAVF, represented at the conference by Elena Dubinina, cultural routes and international relations advisor, made an intervention about importance of cultural routes in general and the Via Francigena in particular for development of sustainable tourism on regional and local levels. The Via Francigena crosses rural areas in England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. It provides off-the-beaten-track experience to pilgrims and walkers, giving direct benefits to local communities and stimulating creation of small and medium enterprises. This cultural route of exchange, shared experience and dialogue can significantly contribute to the post-Covid tourism recovery.
Silvio Marino from the Lazio Regional Department of Tourism highlighted that the Via Francigena provides a fantastic opportunity of slow travel and cultural discovery in the Lazio region, introducing travellers to its traditions, heritage, gastronomy and eno-culture. The slow journey along the Via Francigena gives economic opportunities to regional and local tourism professionals and entrepreneurs as well as to representatives of heritage and creative industries.
The Lazio region is of strategic importance for the Via Francigena, as it is the final region of the Sigeric’s route to Rome and the first section of the Via Francigena in the South. That is why development of the route on this stretch is vital for the EAVF.
The EAVF is a member of the European Cultural Tourism Network ECTN. It was praised for its sustainable transborder tourism development by the ECTN award for Sustainable Tourism Destinations 2019. The EAVF together with the ECTN applied for a Horizon 2020 project, expecting final results in August 2020.