The project is dedicated to the coastal tourism industry and particular attention is focused on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the South Baltic Sea area. The main idea of the project is to increase innovativeness of blue and green tourism companies, by integrating selected elements of the circular economy (CE) into their services, products and business models. „Circular economy tools to support innovation in green and blue tourism SMEs” (CIRTOINNO) is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020.
The economic data shows ongoing process of tourism development growth in the Baltic Sea Region. As a result of this process, a rising demand for energy, waste treatment and use of resources can be noticed. The tourism sector involves a diverse range of actors, but the smallest entrepreneurs play in them important role in the process. They have big potential for offering green tourism products and services, as well as for being an initiator of consumers’ behaviors changes.
Circular economy is an alternative to a „make-use-dispose” (linear) economy. It offers the ability to understand how things influence one another within a whole process. The concept of circular economy assumes minimizing the environmental impact of products. It can be achieved by designing them in a way which enables to take the maximum value from product whilst in use, regenerate it during its life-cycle and to recover/reuse its materials at the end. By realizing CIRTOINNO, we intend to prepare SMEs acting in tourism sector in the South Baltic Region to take the opportunity offered by CE.
Our approach is in some way pioneering and innovative, as the concept of CE derives primarily from the industry sector and is mainly adopted by manufacturers and retail companies. Therefore we have divided the project into 4 main steps:
Step 1 – Research: The project has started with researches in the field of circular economy solutions. We intend to identify and collect existing circular economy solutions in use in services sector and then search for those practiced in tourism. We also would like to identify and collect best practices in circular economy that may be useful and inspiring for tourism SMEs.
Solutions mapped within research activities will be assessed in terms of their possibility to be transferred to/applied in coastal tourism SMEs. This will be the starting point for the development of a self-assessment tool for tourism SMEs.
Step 2 – Self-assessment tool: The self-assessment tool aims to help entrepreneurs to review their currently business practices (related to ecology, energy efficiency and environmental protection), compare them with the provisions of the circular economy and identify areas where new/improved solutions may be developed and introduced. This tool will be available on-line and accessible to all interested tourism companies.
Step 3 – Model of cross-border training programme: The modular training programme (theoretical basis and workshops) will be the core of the project and should help in building companies capacity to benefit from the uptake of innovative “circular” solutions or business models. We intend to test the model of the training programme during international workshops with a group of entrepreneurs. Validated final product will be made available to the general public.
Step 4 – Advisory: It will complement the training programme. Within the project, we assume to develop and test models of services supporting SMEs in energy efficiency, as well as non-technological innovations (e.g. organizational, marketing innovations).
The use of circular economy concept and implementation of solutions based on its principles by tourism businesses will bring a range of benefits:
By adopting circular economy principles, more and more companies are gaining real competitive advantage.
is also supported by Associated Partners The Municipality of Karlskrona
(Sweden), Baltic Health Toursim Foundation (Poland), Klaipeda Tourism and
Culture Information Centre (Lithuania), Pomorskie Tourism Board (Poland).
The Program is based on cross-border cooperation between four Baltic countries and is realized by seven Partners from 4 countries: Pomeranian Development Agency – Lead Partner (Poland), Klaipeda Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (Lithuania), Public Institution Strategic Self Management Institute (Lithuania), Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden (Sweden), Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland), Centre for Regional & Tourism Research (Denmark), Linnaeus University (Sweden).