Action Name: ‘Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot: A European Culture Route Linking Turkey to Italy’

The 9th Annual Advisory Forum of the Council of Europe took place between 1-4 October in Sibiu, Romania. The forum ‘enables the reunion of member states representatives, Cultural Routes operators, candidate networks to the certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe”, international organisations, local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, Chambers of Commerce, foundations and other donor organisations and heritage and tourism organisations and platforms’. The Via Eurasia cultural route was represented at this international forum by Kardelen Karlı (chairperson of Culture Routes Society), Hüseyin Eryurt (Turkish Project coordinator) and Theodoros Trachanidis (Greek Project coordinator).


Every year, the Council of Europe organizes the Annual Advisory Forum, where many international organizations meet and discuss trends and challenges in relation to Cultural Routes. The forum provides a platform for the exchange of experience, review of progress with the implementation of Cultural Routes, debates on new professional practices, the launch of new initiatives and the development of partnerships. This year’s theme was ‘cultural routes for cultural tourism’.


Initially, the event started on October 1st with a closed meeting for networks interested in the official certification of the Council of Europe. After a brief introduction to the program and member states, authorities informed the participants on the certification application process. Numerous meetings and seminars of 2019 and 2020 were also announced during this meeting and candidate routes were strongly recommended to organise advisory meetings in Luxemburg prior to the submission of their final dossier. The forum then had the official inauguration with an accession ceremony for new members of the Enlarged Partial Agreement (EPA) and a certification ceremony for the cultural routes that have been certified in 2019. These new routes included the European Route of Industrial Heritage, the Iron Curtain Trail, the Routes of Reformation, LeCorbusier Architectural Promenades and the Liberation Route Europe.


The second day of the forum was reserved for intense plenary sessions with perspectives from individual European cultural routes and other cultural tourism related organisations including the UNWTO, UNESCO, ICOMOS, etc. The EICR is increasing its alliances with other relevant organisations and, while the UNWTO Silk Road Project has been discontinued, ICOMOS made a valuable contribution. The sessions and side meetings during the forum provided ‘opportunities to focus on ways in which Cultural Routes can continue to capitalise on the growing market for cultural tourism so as to profile the cultural heritage, traditions, experiences and connectivities of Europe; stimulate and support the development of local, regional, national and transnational tourist economies; encourage creativity and innovation in the cultural sector that can add to the tourist experience; create opportunities for exchange, new mobilities and inter-cultural dialogue across Europe and between Europe and the rest of the World’.


Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism was also present at the forum with two representatives from the General Promotions Directorate. Culture Routes Society, via the executive secretary of the EICR, had arranged a side meeting with the Turkish, Italian and Greek Tourism, Culture and Sports Ministry representatives to talk about the Via Eurasia and each country’s EPA policy to support cultural cultural tourism and routes. This was the first contact of these countries’ ministries around a joint cultural route.

On the last evening of the forum, a special session was devoted to cultural routes projects interested in the certification ‘Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe’. 15 routes from different parts of Europe found a chance to present their cultural route proposals during this one hour session. Kardelen Karlı made a presentation about the Via Eurasia and introduced to the audience the CSD 4 and 5 actions, ‘Europe to Turkey on Foot’ and ‘Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot’. The English version of the Via Eurasia brochures that were produced for the roadshows were also given to the +200 forum attendees, who came from +30 countries and the existing +30 Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.


Next year’s forum will be held in Crete, Greece, which is one of the oldest EPA member countries. Greece forms a crucial section of the Via Eurasia cultural route which, by then, will have submitted its certification dossier for consideration and evaluation.


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