The Italian beneficiary SMEs to start their training activities

Following the recruitment phase last winter which resulted in selecting 23 Italian SMEs active in the field of tourism either as accommodation providers or tour agencies, the training phase is now about to kick-off with the first two training session taking part from 22-25 March.

Coordinated by the two Italian partners who act as reference points for the selected SMEs in Italy – the Autonomous Region of Sardinia for the Sardinian SMEs and Confindustria for the rest of Italy, the upcoming trainings will mark the start of the face-to-face and online capacity building trainings and mentoring within the TOURISME project in Italy.

These activities foresee the organisation of workshops, training and mentoring sessions to increase the skills of the SMEs and facilitate scaling-up of sustainable growth and uptake of innovative solutions. At least two face-to-face workshops will be delivered in Spain, Italy, France and Cyprus.  Topics addressed are reflecting the local needs, and can vary bewteen green procurement, waste management, energy efficiency, eco-design, mobility, circular economy, industrial symbiosis and social innovation. The Italian training phase and belonging modules were designed by the two reference points, with the support of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies.

The first training session taking place on 22 March in Rome and on 24 March in Cagliari will see the introduction to the TOURISME project itself, informing the selected SMEs about the calendar of training activities and the general context of the training initiatives. It will also reflect on the key concepts and principles and its application to the tourism sector when it comes to sustainable development, circular economy and environmental management – its terminology, basic notions and main regulatory frameworks. The training session will detail the historical evolution of these concepts, in order to point out the major milestones that contributed to the definition and widespread adoption of these principles in society, from the 1987 Brundtland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The training session will discuss how these principles informed the development of strategies to address the most salient environmental challenges (such as climate change, resources depletion, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation), examining international agreements and regulations such as the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Circular Economy Action Plan of the European Commission, to find out how similar approaches are designed to support all societal actors (from citizens, to governments and businesses) in leveraging opportunities for a more resilient and sustainable growth. The session will analyse the concept of sustainable tourism, defined in 1995 by the 21 Committee and updated in 2004 by the Committee for the Development of Sustainable Tourism of the World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO). There will be an overview on sustainable tourism in Italy.

Immediately, a day after, on 23 March in Rome and 25 March in Cagliari, the selected SMEs will explore the world of environmental standards and environmental certifications of products and services, as well as organisations. The training session will aim at enhancing participants’ awareness and understanding of the most common environmental standards, certifications and labels for products and organizations, in order to highlight implications of such tools for tourism activities. In the first place, the training session will discuss mechanisms and dynamics of standardisation and certification, as well as motives and objectives leading organizations to adopt similar tools, in order to ensure the correct understanding of such instruments among the participants. Then, the session will examine the most widely adopted environmental standards and certifications, focusing on tourism sector and aspects like the scope of the certification schemes, the requirements for adoption, control or auditing mechanisms, external communication aspects, as well as benefits from adoption in terms of environmental improvement and competitive positioning. Specifically, among the eco-labels and environmental certifications for products, the session will examine the EU Ecolabel (also in relation with similar ISO 14020-based labels) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. As far as concerns the environmental standards, the training will delve into the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), ISO 14001 standards for environmental management systems and as well as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for energy efficiency in buildings. After the mentioned international standards, a final focus will be done to “local standard” i.e. successful cases of local green labels. In the last part of this session there will be an interactive phase where the practical steps to be implemented for the adoption of the EMAS and EU Ecolabel will be presented.

Similar training sessions are soon to be organised in the rest of the project countries – Cyprus, Spain and France.