HORIZON-CL2-2023-HERITAGE-01-05: Fostering socio-economic development and job creation in rural and remote areas through cultural tourism

  • Action type: Research and Innovation Actions
  • Opening date: 14 December 2022
  • Closing time: 14 March 2023 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 3 000 000 of total € 9 000 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 3
  • Official website


A large part of European cultural landscapes outside urban territories is rural. Cultural and creative tourism, as a driver of sustainable development, could give visibility to those rural cultural landscapes and have a significant positive impact on the revitalisation of rural and remote areas. It could bring benefits to local communities, foster sustainable development, job creation and social inclusion, by promoting the indigenous cultural history and culture (with its traditions, arts and crafts) as well as the local gastronomy and farming.

However, increasing cultural and creative tourism in rural and remote areas might not be an easy task, as it requires specific and different policy solutions to address the challenges and specificities of the diversified rural and remote areas. Neighbourhood countries encounter similar challenges and specific problems, which the current one-size-fits-all cultural tourism business models cannot address. In addition, the geographical and cultural similarities within each macro-region provide the basis for cooperation and joint strategies, which could help to profile each region as a cultural tourism destination for key markets, but their full innovation potential is not yet fully exploited.

Therefore, research and innovative solutions for sustainable cultural and creative tourism development in rural and remote areas (including outermost areas) that will aim at job creation and socio-economic regeneration, taking into consideration the specificities of eachregion and the diversity of economies should be explored by the research proposals under this topic.

Research should first explore and analyse how cultural tourism can benefit rural and remote areas as well as should address the challenges and needs of cultural tourism in these areas. Considering that cross-border cooperation might help rural and remote areas to promote the region as an attractive destination, the research should identify existing cross-border and macro-regional strategies for cultural tourism and analyse the level of cooperation of the EU neighbourhood countries and the countries of the same region. The researchers should examine whether the implementation of the existing practices contribute to or burden the balanced development of cultural tourism in rural and remote regions, as well as identify the barriers in their implementation. The proposals are expected to provide recommendations with methodologies, and good practices for improvements and develop cross-border/macro-regional sustainable cultural tourism policy scenarios for rural and remote areas that will aim to connect the more touristic with less touristic and remote destinations and to foster a balanced level of socioeconomic development. Solutions that would include the use of digital technologies to promote less touristic and remote destinations are welcome. The proposals should guarantee an equilibrium between the increase of cultural tourism and the capacity of the sites and the rural areas.

Cultural and creative tourism business models that will act as catalysts for the cooperation between the rural/remote areas of each region should be developed. Such models should aim at creating new job opportunities, fostering participation of local citizens in cultural tourism and increasing social inclusion, while promoting not only the natural and historical heritage but also the local identity, arts and crafts by engaging tourists with the creative process. The cultural and creative tourism business models and the processes of settlement development that the models might include should consider the protection of nature and built heritage of the rural and remote areas.


Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
• Increase the macro-regional cultural tourism cooperation to help the socioeconomic development of rural and remote areas*.
• Develop cultural tourism** and creative tourism *** business models for rural and remote areas to increase sustainable job opportunities and investments.
• Promote an inclusive and sustainable cultural and creative tourism that fosters social inclusion and engagement, respects the needs of local communities, the heritage and the capacity of the rural and remote areas.

Note: The proposals should also analyse how these business models can be applied to the cultural tourism for rural and remote areas to fully utilise their potential. The proposals may also consider promoting silver economy and silver tourism, through the proposed cultural and creative business models, while they should consider building on relevant H2020 projects. Finally, the topic should contribute to the EU long-term Rural Vision.

* Typology of the rural and remote territories is given on LTVRA: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/strategy/strategy_documents/documents/ltvra-c2021-345-documents-part1_en.pdf

** According to the definition adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly, at its 22nd session (2017), Cultural Tourism implies “A type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination.

*** UNESCO (2006) also identifies creative tourism as “travel directed toward an engaged and authentic experience, with participative learning in the arts, heritage, or special character of a place, and it provides a connection with those who reside in this place and create this living culture” (UNESCO, 2006:3).

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