Sustainable tourism training project supporting small providers

Irish Rural Link (IRL) was represented at a Sustainable Tourism Innovative Training (SUSTAIN IT) project partner meeting in Malaga, Spain, recently, with a view to increasing visitor numbers to and length of stay in rural areas and supporting small providers.

The project involves a consortium made up of eight partners from six European countries: Belgium; Cyprus; Italy; Iceland; Ireland; and Spain. IRL participated in its third meeting, hosted by Spanish partner, IWS, in Malaga.

National and international level

IRL represents the interests of locally based rural groups in disadvantaged and marginalised rural areas by highlighting problems; advocating appropriate policies; and sharing experiences and examples of good practice.

It has a membership of nearly 600 rural community groups dedicated to sustainable rural development and represents rural communities at a national and international level.

The sustainable tourism’s field needs to strengthen its growth and competitiveness by supporting and enhancing European professionals’ skills and competencies to fully support employability in the EU, said Louise Lennon, policy and communications officer, IRL.

“In doing so, SUSTAIN IT features an innovative and actionable training available in five languages deliverable via traditional means – face-to-face – and via Open Educational Resource (OER),” she said.

The project will help those involved in the tourism sector especially micro enterprises, B&Bs and other small providers move to more sustainable practices such as waste management, the importance of being more sustainable in your tourism business and forming networks with other businesses in the local area to provide a package for tourists; in order to increase visitors to rural areas but also to encourage them to lengthen their stay instead of just one day trips so that local communities can benefit from tourism.

“It will also look at visitor management so that new tourist attractions can be promoted and ways of reducing numbers or spreading out the numbers visiting popular sites to help reduce impact on the landscape and surrounding environment,” Louise said.

Testing and validating

“During the meeting, partners took stock of the current status of the platform and an overview of the training and tools contained in it. Dissemination and multiplier events, necessary for the visibility and mainstreaming of the project, and administrative issues, were also addressed,” she said.

IRL will test and validate the OER until mid-July and will hold a multiplier event also on sustainable tourism.

“We have developed modules and will now begin testing and validating these modules over the next few months.

“If people involved in the tourism sector – businesses, operators or tourist officers within Local Development Companies (LDCs), local authorities or other organisations – are interested in participating in a workshop on some of these modules, they can contact me at: [email protected]; or on phone at: 090-6482744; or 086-1069244.”