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HECTOR project aims at increasing employability for young Europeans (aged 18-30) having a background education and/or training in the tourism sector, by providing them with core skills and a specialization on experience tourism in industrial heritage.
Despite the economic crisis of 2008, Europe remains the n°1 tourism destination in the world, employing around 17 million people and contributing to EU GDP by almost 10%, taking into account its links to other key sectors such as culture, food and transport.
European tourism is confronted with many challenges, starting with the need to constantly innovate and improve quality. The sector must quickly adapt to the digital revolution, and develop new attractive products in a sustainable manner for local communities and the environment. This is why HECTOR project focuses on a specific typology of tourism: industrial heritage. In Europe, 20 sites related with industry, production and technology feature the World Heritage List. Industrial heritage thus provides interesting case studies and it is relevant from a cultural point of view, as it strongly characterizes a community socio-economic development, and socially, since the recovery of degraded industrial areas represents an opportunity for sustainable development. These characteristics make industrial heritage a strong asset to face EU tourism challenges, as it can be transformed in an experiential package (connect with people and places) and foster accessible and sustainable tourism.
All these topics will be addressed to design HECTOR curriculum for the Tourist Operator specialised in Industrial Heritage promotion and the related Training Methodology: HECTOR intends to provide already trained persons with skills, competences and knowledge in line with market trends, by proposing a course and a work-based experience focused on a specific topic (industrial heritage) but not forgetting transversal skills as these represent major gaps and shortages reported by employers. Nine partners coming from Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Spain, Austria, Germany and Belgium will thus cooperate to train 55 Tourist operators specialized on industrial heritage ready to access the market, filling the gap in skills, competence and knowledge reported by the tourism market. This will be achieved through an on line course and a summer school. The latter designed to be a 5 days immersive training and working experience in an inspiring environment: the Park Museum of the Mercury Mine of Abbadia San Salvatore, located in the Amiata Mines National Park near Siena, In Italy.
Through a multidisciplinary approach, participants will be guided in creating an “Industrial Heritage Experience Toolbox”, meaning an offer designed to enable tourists to connect with people and places whose history, habits and traditions have been shaped by local industrial development. From a training point of view, this is an innovative approach, defining a profile standing between the tour operator and the destination manager, with a strong focus on sustainable and accessible tourism as well as providing transversal skills such as problem solving attitude, entrepreneurship, communication, etc.
The methodology applied to reach HECTOR goals relies on a structure made of analysis,implementation and evaluation of each activity carried out: the first step to set base line and share knowledge among the partnership, the second to concretely produce project outputs, the latter to assess their effectiveness and efficacy, in order to grant its future sustainability and transferability to different contexts and sectors.
Following this pattern, HECTOR positively impacts on enriching qualifications in the tourism sector, supporting professional reliability and enhancing the opportunity for young people to enter the labour market within a European network, able to bring innovation in training methodologies and approaches. HECTOR also impacts on EU policies on tourism, acting on areas needing action in order to retain and enhance its competitiveness, namely promoting high-quality, sustainable tourism, diversifying the supply of tourism services, improving accessibility, and enhancing the use of ICT. The Union needs more European cultural routes showing how Europeans cooperated, competed or fought. Indeed, travelling in the past is often a way to build a better future.