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CIRTOINNO - circular economy tools to support innovation in green and blue tourism SMEs

  • Published on November 30, 2018
Coastal tourism in the Baltic Sea in particular is largely dependent on natural resources, which are one of the most attractive tourism assets of the region. As tourism development grows in the Baltic Sea region, the demand for energy, waste treatment and use of resources has been on the rise, calling for innovative solutions to mitigate the sector’s environmental impact and decrease pressure on water, energy, and food resources. Against this backdrop, the “Circular economy tools to support innovation in green and blue tourism small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)” or CIRTOINNO project was launched. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the interregional South Baltic Programme 2014- 2020, with the Pomerania Development Agency of Poland, as the Lead Partner.
The main idea of the project is to increase innovativeness of blue and green tourism companies, by integrating selected elements of the circular economy into their services, products and business models. The concept of CE assumes minimizing the environmental impact of products/services. It can be achieved by designing them in a way which enables to take maximum value from the product whilst in use, regenerate it during its life-cycle and to recover/reuse its materials at the end. By realising this Project, we intend to prepare SMEs acting in touristic sector in the South Baltic Region to take the opportunity offered by CE. Elements of CE implemented into business models of SMEs, can be drivers for green products and services in tourism. Resource efficiency, better waste management, eco-friendly mentality, product/service lifecycle management in a sustainable manner can increase competitiveness of SMEs, bring to them real savings and what is more important – improve their innovativeness and create new business opportunities. Our approach is in some way pioneering and innovative, as the concept of CE derives primarily from the industry sector and is mainly adopted by manufacturers and retail companies. Moreover, tourism companies in the South Baltic Area vary in skills, innovation capacity, and environmental consciousness. To reduce these gaps, we intend to deliver to tourism SMEs capacity building tools such as self-assessment tool, model of the cross-border training programme, and advisory services. Within the training we would like to use some innovative methodologies – business model canvas and design thinking. This method of work is catalyst of changes, because encourage capacity and extraction of knowledge in company to design non - common solutions and innovative products and services. With project’s outputs we also intend to emphasize an importance of meeting green, sustainable and finally circular economy criteria by suppliers as well venues within tourism sector. It means spreading a knowledge among tourism entrepreneurships about different kinds of standards and certificates able to be implemented in tourism sector. According to research made within a project – different kind of recommendations for stakeholders will be developed and shared. Our approach is in some way pioneering and innovative, as the concept of CE derives primarily from the industry sector and is mainly adopted by manufacturers and retail companies. Therefore we have divided the project into 4 main steps: • Research / CE Handbook We have identified and collected existing circular economy solutions in use in services sector and then searched for those practised in tourism. We also have identified and collected best practices in circular economy that may be useful and inspiring for tourism SMEs. Solutions mapped within research activities were assessed in terms of their possibility to be transferred to/applied in coastal tourism SMEs. Publication titled: “Destination: A circular tourism economy. A Handbook for transitioning toward a circular economy within the tourism and hospitality sectors in the South Baltic Region” was prepared and summarizes our research. The Handbook presents a comprehensive view on the Circular Economy. It is also a source of inspiration and valuable knowledge for tourism business in the South Baltic Region. • Self-assessment tool (CE in tourism business) The self-assessment tool helps entrepreneurs review their current business practices, compare them with the principles of the circular economy and identify areas where new/improved solutions may be developed and introduced. Th is tool is available on-line and accessible to all interested tourism sector companies. • Model of cross-border training programme The modular training programme (theoretical basis and workshops) is the core of the project and should help in building companies’ capacity to benefit from the uptake of innovative ‘circular’ solutions or business models. We test the model of the training programme during international workshops with a group of entrepreneurs. Validated final product will be made available to the general public. • Model of cross-border advisory programme Within the project, we develop and test models of services supporting SMEs in energy efficiency, as well as non-technological innovations (e.g. organisational, marketing innovations). lt complements the training programme Please visit Recommendations for various stakeholders as well small and medium entrepreneurships (SMEs) from tourism sector - are currently being developed. Research is now in progress to collect a data, opinions, etc. SMEs may contact project's partners to participate in testing project's main products: model of workshops, model of advisory services, self-assessment tool.
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