The SHAPE-project has created a transnational web-based service to support organisations, communities and businesses in the ‘Cool North’ in developing, implementing and managing ecotourism initiatives. The SHAPE eService, shapingecotourism.eu, is an open-access platform for knowledge transfers, sharing of identified good practices and developed tools, and examples of ecotourism projects based on identified natural and cultural assets and opportunities. The SHAPE project is ending, but there is a plan and continuation strategy for the eService.
By: Lasse Okkonen – Karelia University of Applied Sciences
The Shape partners have plans to organise training events on the eService in each area in partnership with various stakeholders. Galloway and Southern Ayrshire has already established trainings, such as the UNESCO Biosphere Guide Training Program, showcasing the potential of SHA’s in facilitating practical training courses. The Shape partners have also been involved in earlier projects with training elements, such as AVIP Erasmus+ that have produced training courses.
Karelia UAS will utilise the Shape knowledge in establishing international 15 ECTS training content for students. This will likely take place in 2021 onwards. There is also potential in developing virtual training course contents/courses that could be replicated in each SHA and linked to the eService.
A thematic knowledgebase
Shape has established a knowledgebase building on the project deliverables, conference outcomes and synergies with other projects. The new thematic structure allows better use in training events and building on new development activities.
The thematic content will create ‘nuggets’ that support training and capacity building activities. International Shape-conference and workshops, Shaping Ecotourism: Practical Perspectives, provides set of materials supporting the thematic content.
The key themes that the eService contents will cover are:
- Nature & culture (heritage/assets)
- Responsible tourism
- Planning ecotourism
- Creative marketing
Continuation and the Testimonial
The most essential part of continuing the eService is the continuation of collaboration between partners and the vast stakeholder networks. The NordMAB meeting in Estonia in autumn 2020 will provide opportunity for further development.
The Shape stakeholders consider the eService a valuable resource supporting the development of SHA’s as sustainable travel destinations, as described by testimonial from Visit Karelia, Finland:
“Visit Karelia has ongoing Destination Management Planning process for which the Shape eService is a valuable resource. We share the examples on ecotourism products and services for the business customers to support them in service developments. We will use the Shape eService as dissemination and networking tool as part of our Sustainable Destination Management.”
The benefits of the eService
The Shape eService can provide a channel for communication and disseminating the results of Shape, but also knowledge from other SHA’s and their development activities. It can make collaboration activities and stakeholders visible, provide background for training and consultancy, and support further development activities of ecotourism in SHA’s.
How can I get involved?
The stakeholders interested in sustainable ecotourism, or SHA’s in general, are invited to join in the Shape network. Contact us and suggest any topic you would like to collaborate, or disseminate through our posting at the Shapeingecotourism.eu.