Interreg IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013
Interreg is a European funding initiative founded in 1989 with the aim of supporting cross-border, transnational and inter-regional co-operation between different European Member States. The Interreg programmes have been and will continue to be a key vehicle for local authorities and organisations to work with EU partners on projects of common interest.
Visit Kent has participated in various Interreg programmes since 1991 including the Franco-British Interreg IIIa Programme from 2000 until 2006. As the Destination Management Organisation for the county, Visit Kent ensures that Interreg funding is used for the benefit of the tourism industry.
Through cooperating with partners overseas, Visit Kent seeks to not only boost the tourism industry in Kent, but ensure that visitors enjoy and benefit from their visit in order to encourage repeat visits in the Cross Channel area. Two of our most recent Interreg projects were delivered in partnership with the eligible areas of England, Netherlands, Flanders and the French region of Nord-Pas de Calais.
The Seaconomics project seeks to find solutions to the challenges of a run-down physical environment, and a decline in traditional industries that no longer meet the expectations of current visitors to the coast. The overall aim was to create a dynamic waterfront environment to encourage tourism investment and development, improve business skills, and develop a new and contemporary marketing approach for Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and local communities.
The project focused on three main activities:
- Development of the waterfront in the partner regions - small scale new coastal improvement schemes such as signage, lighting, boardwalks and jetties, to enhance and improve waterfront areas for the benefit of visitors and local communities. The improvements contribute to attracting new business.
- Supporting local businesses and entrepreneurship through advice and training for existing and start up businesses, through one to one advice combined with a series of master classes and workshops (SMEs).
- A tourism marketing campaign of the partner regions that cross promotes and includes the development of a sustainable and positive image of the partner areas.
The Cool Tourism project funded by the Interreg IVA France (Channel) - England programme used the environment as an asset to promote experiential tourism, unlocking the potential of rural destinations and helping the Transmanche region to compete effectively in the global tourism market. It helps create new networks bringing businesses and communities together and leading to specific, accessible business tools to deliver tangible results.
The project focused on four main activities:
Activity 1 - Research and Development - Kent has worked with partners to undertake research into experiential tourism commissioning Europarc for this study. In addition we have worked with partners to compare Economic Impact Models for destinations and rural areas.
Activity 2 - Business Development - Visit Kent has provided a range of training and advice for rural tourism businesses. We are also working with partners to deliver a toolkit for rural tourism businesses.
Activity 3 - Development of ICT tools. This activity focused on innovative communication tools for better engagement with businesses and providing better access to information for visitors. Visit Kent developed a number of initiatives under this activity, including a ‘Digital Masterclass’ for Kent tourism businesses, email marketing campaigns, search engine optimisation and pay per click campaigns, a digital engagement strategy and the development of a B2B blog (read our latest blog).
Activity 4 - Marketing and promotion. This activity brought together a variety of offers from local businesses and attractions so visitors could view the area in a more holistic way, thus encouraging people to stay longer and supporting the local economy. Visit Kent delivered a number of marketing campaigns under this project, including:
- A joint press pack and a series of press visits (a sample of the former COOL Tourism press pack is available here..)
- New photography and video content
- A Visiting Friends and Relatives campaign
- A joint campaign with Visit Essex and the Evening Standard, including a promotional video by travel journalist Simon Calder (watch video)
The main aim of the Proximity Cluster project was to capitalise on and learn from key tourism Interreg 2 Seas projects in order to attract the nearby tourism market in the 2 Seas Region. The cluster supported and empowered tourism businesses and volunteers to develop innovative and sustainable products, services and marketing specifically targeted at the near-by tourism markets.The common objectives in relation to the near-by tourism market were to:
- Improve the awareness amongst our businesses and volunteers
- Improve the quality of existing tourism products, services and marketing
- Inspire our businesses and volunteers to be creative and innovative in the development of new sustainable tourism products, services and marketing
- Develop networks amongst the businesses and Greeters to share ideas, best practice and develop cross border relationships.