Food, tourism and sustainability as drivers for regional development

Policy-leaders from eight European Regions of Gastronomy engaged in a discussion concerning Food, tourism, and sustainability as drivers for regional development on 24 January 2017 in Athens. The Round Table, aimed at exchanging views about real challenges and lessons learnt, was moderated by Caroline Couret, Director of the Creative Tourism Network and featured interventions by George Hatzimarkos, Governor of South Aegean, Francisco de Calheiros, President of MinhoIN Consortium, Ramon Sentmartí, General Director of PRODECA (Catalonia), Anna V. Kristensen, Vice-President of Central Denmark Region, Juris Radzevics, Executive Director of Riga County Council, Prof. Roberta Garibaldi, Director of East Lombardy 2017 project, Cllr Micheal Connolly, Mayor of Galway County Council, and Roel Schutten, Managing Director of Agrifood Capital (North Brabant).

The discussion focused on how holding the European Region of Gastronomy Award is helping to promote local cuisine in the region. Within the framework of the International year of Sustainable Tourism the question was also raised on how the regions can ensure visitors to the region stay longer and spend more – this being more sustainable for the environment.

One of the answers was by hosting smart events strategies that encourage food and arts lovers to stay in the region. These events may be in the form of creative experiences or evening events that encourage visitors to stay over and learn more about the region.

Silvia Draghi, European Commission – DG Growth, delivered the closing speech. She reaffirmed the support of the European Commission to the Regions of Gastronomy project, underlining the importance of such initiatives in Europe, where food tourism represents a significant niche. Draghi identified tourism as a fundamental opportunity of growth for the European Union and affirmed the commitment of the European Commission to help all stakeholders involved to cooperate, exchange knowledge and good practices. She highlightedthat IGCAT’s Regions of Gastronomy programme represents an opportunity to implement these policies.

The Regions of Gastronomy Platform and the European Region of Gastronomy Award aim to contribute to better quality of life in European and world regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability, and stimulating culinary innovation.

IGCAT – International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism – organises the award with the support of European institutions. IGCAT is an international interdisciplinary network of experts aiming to empower and facilitate local communities to realise the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts, sustainable tourism, and other local resources.