Input for local development: an innovative approach for crisis-stricken regions
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by
the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 25
November 2011 (see Doc.
12776, report of the Committee on Economic Affairs and
Development, rapporteur: Mr Galati).
1 The economic and financial crisis
of 2008 has hit European countries and regions asymmetrically. Some countries
have experienced a much higher rise in unemployment than others.
Within countries, regions with an economy highly dependent on a
particular sector or company have suffered more than others. Regions
less reliant on export-oriented industries and financial services
seem to have been less severely affected by the crisis.
2 This phenomenon can be explained by, inter
alia, the socio-economic disadvantages of certain regions, such
as rurality, crisis or lack of traditional industries, low population
density or negative population growth, unemployment and undeclared
employment, lack of a sufficient workforce to sustain social welfare
systems, low education levels, lack of public and private research
and development, lack of innovation capacity, or difficult access
to essential services.
3 However, modern approaches to the theory of economic development
focus on the characteristics of endogenous development. This refers
to development that is based on locally available resources such
as land, water, vegetation, knowledge, skills and competencies and
culture. Tradition and cultural and natural diversity, as well as
spirituality, may become the starting points for possible innovations
leading to economic growth.
4 Endogenous development represents a complementary approach
to the ongoing technological and economic processes at a global
level. It is locally determined, whereas exogenous development is
transplanted into particular locations but remains externally determined.
Therefore, initiatives for supporting endogenous development need
to identify development niches, based on the characteristics of
each local situation. In this respect, it is important to identify
best practices for growth and local development.
5 Thematic tourism is one of the activities that have the potential
to contribute to the economic development of disadvantaged European
regions. It can be connected with the cultural and historical heritage of
a specific region, with ethnography, gastronomy, traditional music
and handicrafts – or with religion (for example, tourism generated
by the European cultural routes, valorised in particular by the
Council of Europe Cultural Routes Programme).
6 In this context, the Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the involvement
of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council
of Europe (the Congress) in promoting tourism and underlines the
major role that local and regional authorities can play in this
field. It therefore encourages local and regional authorities in
member states to develop new concepts of tourism, with a view to
striking a balance between the exploitation of the cultural heritage
for commercial purposes and its responsible and sustainable use.
7 The Assembly also encourages the European Association of Historic
Towns and Regions to work, in close co-operation with the Congress,
on drafting guidelines for cultural tourism which could be applied throughout
Europe as a tool, inter alia for
the economic development of less developed regions.
The Assembly invites member states to adapt their national
institutional, legal and commercial frameworks so as to promote
a more favourable environment for the economic development of crisis-stricken regions
in Europe, notably by:
the best practices in the field of endogenous development when implementing
local development policies in economically weak territories;
8.2 strengthening the development of alternative forms of
tourism (thematic tourism) as a catalyst for local development,
in particular in regions and areas having recently experienced economic
8.3 implementing measures allowing the pooling together of
geographically scattered tourist sites having common denominators
in terms of thematic tourism, in order to create “tourism clusters”
able to provide enough interest to attract a critical mass of tourists;
8.4 taking note of the specific potential represented by senior
citizen tourism and encouraging its development;
8.5 encouraging the reinvestment of benefits derived from
tourism in goods and services across the country (infrastructure,
education and training, research and development), with a view to
determining economic growth capable of promoting sustainable development;
8.6 bringing together economic players actively involved in
the development of a given region, through round-table meetings
which include public bodies and all potential stakeholders.