Eighty (80) small businesses in five countries are to be chosen for a new project led by Munster Technological University (MTU), which will help address tourism’s impact on local environments and communities while promoting a regenerative model for the industry.
MTU has partnered with Midwest-based consultancy the Tourism Space to deliver on this EU-funded project, Circular Economy for Regenerative Tourism. The Tourism Space will assist MTU to deliver the project and to ensure that the training provided will meet the needs of the sector.
The CEO of the Tourism Space, Tina O’Dwyer, said, “We are delighted to partner with MTU and other international partners on this programme. We are committed to collaboration and believe deeply in tourism’s ability to create a better future for local communities, their places, and, of course, their visitors. Working with partners in Ireland and across Europe, this project is a unique opportunity to apply regenerative tourism principles in practice.”
The tourism team at MTU secured an EU grant of approximately €1.2 million to lead the project, under which the university will be the Irish lead partner with the Tourism Space, the Dingle Peninsula Tourism Alliance, and other partners in Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Poland and the Netherlands.
O’Dwyer said, “This opportunity presents tourism businesses in all five countries with a unique chance to make a more positive impact on their community and environment, network with a range of other SMEs and stakeholders throughout Europe, and gain a competitive edge in an increasingly conscious marketplace.”
O’Dwyer continued, “The programme will allow us to develop bespoke training tools that will help tourism businesses implement regenerative approaches in their operations and in their community. Our role is to ensure that the training element is practical, relevant and actionable, leading to [a] tangible benefit in all five destinations.”
Project leaders will work closely with SMEs in all five countries to help them assess their current level of performance and subsequently build on this through practical training, mentoring, networking, and peer support systems. Participants who reach certain targets will additionally be supported through an appropriate sustainability certification process.
Mary Rose Stafford, the head of business, computing and humanities at MTU, said, “This is a real opportunity for leaders and learners in regenerative tourism to share their experience and learn from each other with the support of EU funding to participate in the project.”
President Maggie Cusack commented, “MTU acknowledges the vast scale of current environmental challenges and aspires to be a leader in sustainability – regionally, nationally, and internationally – through education and research. This project will bring about a sustainable and fundamental change in behaviour and influence a best-practice culture in the tourism sector.”
The two-year project will end in February 2025, with an international regenerative tourism conference in MTU, to disseminate project findings and share international best practice from the participating tourism SMEs.
This project is funded under COSME, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.