The circular economy applied to cultural tourism

The European project Be.Cultour supports investments in innovative start-ups with a social vocation, in an ESG key

Fast-food and consumer-oriented cultural tourism can prove challenging in terms of negative environmental impacts and social and cultural effects on local communities and ecosystems. It is far from this approach the Be.Cultour project (Beyond CULtural TOURism)funded by the European Commission under Horizon2020 and coordinated by the Cnr, which aims to support investments in innovative start-ups with a social vocation to implement circular initiatives.

‘Places’ and ‘people’

Be.Cultour focuses on the ‘place’ as genius loci, the ancient spirit of the site, and on ‘people’ as co-creators of its uniqueness, culture, art, tradition, folklore, productivity and spirituality and aims to develop specific strategies to promote an understanding of cultural tourism that puts humans and circular economy models at its centre, paying attention to nature, communities and cultural diversity.


The project aims at promote abandoned cultural and natural resourcesunderutilized and less known, enhance human capital and human rights, reduce tourist pressure on overexploited territories, as well as waste and consumption of natural resources (energy, water, soil, biodiversity), increase the use of clean energy and green means of transport, to recycle and reuse materials and products, enhance the productions food and crafts locals.

All this with the aid of thetechnological innovation: Ict, AI, 5G and IoT systems can be used for better management of tourist flows to avoid overcrowding, improve accessibility and safety, and promote evidence-based policies to improve the well-being of local communities, as well as the experience of visitors.


Broad and diverse partnerships of stakeholders from 18 EU and non-EU regions from Northern Central and Southern Europe, the Balkans, the Eastern Neighborhood and the Mediterranean are the driving force behind the project. A community of 300 innovators (comprising regional authorities and municipalities, clusters and associations, museums and tourism bodies, entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce, citizens, researchers, professionals and project partners) in 6 pilot regions will co-create innovative place-based solutions for people-centred cultural tourism man and circular.

Pledge funds

Within the framework of the project an ad hoc was conceived pledge fund, in an ESG keyfrom the financial services company Iniziativa, to finance circular and sustainable cultural tourism initiatives envisaged, which must be aligned with the Objectives of the 2030 Agenda and pay particular attention to urban regeneration, the enhancement of rural areas, territories and ecosystems of local innovation, the creation of a positive impact in the reference community.

In the pledge fund, investors can make hybrid investments (cash or contributions in kind) on a deal-by-deal basis, in which they can take the decision of what to invest and how, in circular economy initiatives in the tourism, cultural and creative fields. The selection and evaluation of investment opportunities is entrusted to a group of specialists with the task of developing the scouting of investment opportunities according to certain parameters and presenting them to previously selected investors, who examine them and eventually decide to invest in them to what extent and in what form.

The initiatives must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and pay particular attention to the enhancement of rural areas, urban regeneration and sustainable cultural tourism, actively contributing to the renewal of the tourism ecosystem and the enhancement of cultural heritage.