Smart Marketing Strategies for tourism in the Cross-Border Area

Acronym

SMS-CBA
Priority axis 2 - A Sustainable and Climate adaptable Cross-Border area
Investment priorities 6c - Conserving, protecting, promoting and developing natural and cultural heritage
Intervention fields 079. Access to public sector information (including open data, e-Culture, digital libraries, e-Content and eTourism)
Call 2nd Call for proposals under priority axes 2 & 4
Lead Beneficiary Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
Beneficiaries Greek Tourism Confederation
Hoteliers Association of Thrace
Institute for Language and Speech Processing, Xanthi branch/“Athena” Research and Innovation Center in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies
Regional Administration of Haskovo
Regional Administration of Kardzhali
Regional Administration of Smolyan
Rhodopes Regional Tourism Association
Budget 1.400.000,00 €
ERDF Contribution 1.190.000,00 €
National Contribution 210.000,00 €
Tourism has been proved to be the most crisis-resistant industry globally, growing annually by 4% in the last 5 years (WTO). In 2015, annual turnout from tourism in Greece exceeded global average representing 20% of GDP (12% in Bulgaria). It plays an important role for the local CB area economy, with all relevant policy makers placing it at the core of their strategic planning. Moreover, the proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with emphasis on the internet have been rapidly adapted to tourism: new design and marketing strategies for destinations are being explored in physical and virtual environments. A traveller’s experience begins online long before they arrive to the target location. Visual and textual contents on the website offer a preview of the destination. A destination may gain a larger market share, with targeted advertising, ordering and communication, since more than 90% of future travellers consider other travellers’ reviews when booking.
 
Despite the wealth of cultural and natural assets in the CB area, promotional means in the past have been fragmented and ineffective while touristic activity remains relatively low, depending heavily on exogenous factors. To that end, the main drivers of two past GR-BG 2007-2013 tourism projects (JTI-Target and Green-Spots) capitalize on past experience and join efforts to address the above-mentioned challenges.

Thus, SMS-CBA focuses on the specialised and smart promotion of the CB area as an integrated destination via an up-to-date, professionally designed and executed marketing plan and campaign. The project follows state of the art processes of destination marketing: defining the destination (a marketable experience), creating appropriate conditions for marketing it to individual tourists and travel agencies, and facilitating suitable B2B communication. Past ICT solutions (portal, apps etc.) will be upgraded to meet the needs of modern tourists before, during and after their visit. New features and services (tour guide, e-booking, e-ticketing) will be introduced to facilitate navigation and communication between visitors and tourism businesses. All new applications will be linked to beneficiaries’ websites and tourism portals, to avoid confusion and fragmentation of tourism information. Apart from the innovative approach on destination marketing and management, the project brings together public, private and research community drivers in order to achieve optimum results and sustainability.
 
The Project’s objective will be enhanced by formulating permanent structures such as a CB Tourism Observatory and a Task Force (exchange of know-how, on-going evaluation studies, tourism resources library) and area-wide cultural events and targeted conferences. The project encourages the involvement of young volunteers in the development and the feeding of the new e-tools, and they will be used as multipliers in terms of disseminating the experience of targeted guided tours.

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