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"We are better and stronger when we work together"
25 Jan 2022
The author of the TIDE toolkit explains its value in identifying local historical assets that can be developed into themed transnational tourism packages.
The work carried out in TIDE has never stopped since the project was launched in May 2019. Partners and stakeholders are continuously working and exchanging experiences, and some project outputs have already surfaced. Among these achievements, we already presented the TIDE Toolkit, that aims to aid communities in identifying local historical assets that can be developed into themed transnational tourism packages. Maritime and underwater cultural heritage is not only an important receptacle of history, memory and identity; it has also proven to be a valuable educational and tourist resource through its adequate and respectful promotion. This Toolkit allows regions to identify historical assets that share links with other Atlantic regions. To find out more, we talk with the TIDE project partner Carlota Pérez – Reverte, from the University of Cadiz (Spain), the author of the Toolkit.

What is the main objective of this guide?
The aim of this toolkit is to help institutions, organisations and other practitioners to develop responsible and sustainable tourism products based on maritime and underwater heritage. Although this field has been neglected for a long time (at least from an academic point of view), it has been receiving a lot of attention recently, and there are already a number of successful experiences to be analysed. And that is what we have done, and what we have learned is that a compromise with sustainability and responsibility is the best path both socially, culturally and economically. And the way that offers more advantages considering the well-being of the visitors, the host community and the heritage itself. 

The TIDE Toolkit will help local communities identify historical aspects of their culture that have the potential to be developed and shared as part of niche tourism packages. How does it work?
Maritime and underwater heritage are very complex and varied. We speak about many different types of elements, of materials and of states of conservation. Also the circumstances of the communities, and the needs of the visitors and the host are going to be different from one place to another. So, this guide seeks to help us to understand what fundamental aspects should be considered, what aspects we should gather information on, what professionals should we be in contact with, which perspectives can we use to enhance the cultural value of the heritage and the strategies we can use to integrate this product in the local community and reach our audiences. That would be the first step. To know what we have and its potential. That is what the toolkit is for. The second step is the wonderful framework and network that the TIDE project itself offers, not only to take advantage of the shared knowledge and expertise but also to create combined, transnational products that can get us, our visitors and our heritage much further.

What has been the main challenge when developing the Toolkit?
I would say there have been two main challenges, related somehow. The first one is precisely the variety and complexity of the heritage we are working with. The second one is the fact that this toolkit is intended to be of use in many different countries with a different vision of heritage and tourism, and different legislation. Considering this, finding a balance between specificity and generality has been quite a challenge. Our intention was to create a guide useful for the different types of heritage, for different types of entities and agents and at the same time for different countries without interfering with their legislation, and that was not easy. In this case we have worked first looking at the heritage very close, to understand carefully its needs. Second, we have analysed more than a hundred cases of tourist products based on this kind of heritage, one by one, to understand the risks, the benefits and the opportunities in each case. And then, we had to take a step back, to get a bigger perspective and see the shared challenges.

In this sense, the fact that the toolkit was developed in a privileged environment such as the TIDE project has been fundamental to overcome this issues. The continuous feedback among the process of the TIDE working team, which is not only multidisciplinary, but also includes people from different countries, has been very enriching and productive. To have the chance to listen to and debate with this group of extremely qualified experts from different countries sharing their knowledge and expertise was key to reach this point of equilibrium. Not to mention the valuable work of ERNACT leading and organising the sharing of this information.

And the biggest lesson learned?
For me, the biggest lesson is surely that without sustainability and responsibility, products are less stable, less profitable, and they can cause social tensions, and even destroy heritage. On the other hand, I have been able to understand the immense importance of the Interreg projects to face common challenges, share knowledge and create a better future. That is why the toolkit is not only looking to help to develop sustainable and responsible products, but also to encourage practitioners to create multiregional packages. We are stronger when we work together.

Besides that, I would like to add that this process has been full of small lessons also quite eye opening for me. I had to analyse many cases that at first sight did not fit into what I, culturally, as Spanish, would consider a complete good practice in relation to heritage. However, once I analysed them carefully and leaving, as far as possible, my prejudices aside, in almost all of them I found very valuable and extremely useful lessons. A lot of room for learning. I will give you some examples that people can find in TIDE's catalogue of good practices, although I could cite many, many more. 
  • The Greencastle Maritime Museum, which is a delight and which I had the privilege of visiting, has so many elements that it can be difficult to understand them without the help of a guide. The very structure of the building itself, which used to belong to the Coastguard, imposes a compartmentalisation that makes it difficult for the exhibition to flow. However, for me, this museum is a wonderful example of success, of how to reuse a historic building while preserving its history, and of how to work with today's maritime communities, such as fishermen. This latter issue is really complex and I think all museums dedicated to the sea in my country could learn a lot from this case. 
  • The Laurentic exhibition, which, being free of charge, might not be considered ideal by a tour operator, nevertheless implies an overwhelming success in working with divers and the community, which is a very important (and difficult) group to integrate in these initiatives. In both Madeira and the Pays de la Loire, we have outstanding examples of adapting buildings to the new needs of society and keeping alive intangible heritage, such as the art of navigation. Devon, on the other hand, has been making a great effort to make its heritage and related information accessible through digital media by getting very diverse institutions to row in the same direction together, which is something not easy at all.  
Being able to see so many cases, with so different approaches, has made me grow immensely as a professional and has changed my perspective on this field, not only by great lessons, but though a thousand of small (and not so small) things that have helped me to think out of the box (my cultural box, let´s say). And I am very grateful.

The TOOLKIT offers tools and ideas to address the different challenges that cultural maritime heritage can pose whilst adapting them to the conditions of each case and region. How are those who utilize the TOOLKIT empowered to assess and decide which ideas and tools best fit their goals and resources?
The problem of working with a heritage that is not very visible, such as the underwater heritage, and that is not very valued, such as the maritime heritage, is that there is a great lack of knowledge, and that knowledge essential to generate a tourist product. So, if you don't know the field you are going to work on, if you don't know where to start, then what the Toolkit offers is a roadmap that allows you to tackle all the phases in an orderly way, helping you to understand what information you have to collect, how you can do it, how you can process it, what kind of professionals or institutions may be of help... Then it may be of assistance in the process of evaluating the potential of your resources to make better decisions, and on deciding what message you want to send, and targeting your audience. Besides, the toolkit is full of cases and ideas (this small but eye-opening lessons) to stimulate your creativity and to help you also to think outside the box to offer something relevant and meaningful for your visitors and your host community.  

On the other hand, it is not reasonable to think that a product of this kind won’t need any improvements or modifications in the long term, because time changes and society evolves, therefore, the toolkit also helps to stablish some key performance indicators to be evaluated periodically in order to understand and adjust the performance of our product. Last but not least, the Toolkit also includes a series of exercises at the end of each chapter which, if fully completed, will give us, at the end, a fairly solid draft project from which to start working.

What do you expect to achieve, at project level, with the TIDE Toolkit?
One of the objectives of the Toolkit within the TIDE project in the first place was to be of use for the partners, creating a consensual framework through which to start working to develop our pilot projects. Looking further, it also seeks to help the TIDE project in raising the number of regions involved and the transnationality of the products developed. I think that in this sense this Toolkit is a very good tool to work with our stakeholders, because it not only allows us to make a very clear presentation of the field in which we operate and the lines of work in which we are interested, but it also gives tools to our stakeholders and other interested people to generate these products, encouraging them to do it in collaboration with other regions and, ideally, through the TIDE project. As I have said, we are better and stronger when we work together.  


Click here to email  Ianire Renobales at ERNACT Network for further information

"We are better and stronger when we work together"
25 Jan 2022
The author of the TIDE toolkit explains its value in identifying local historical assets that can be developed into themed transnational tourism packages.
The work carried out in TIDE has never stopped since the project was launched in May 2019. Partners and stakeholders are continuously working and exchanging experiences, and some project outputs have already surfaced. Among these achievements, we already presented the TIDE Toolkit, that aims to aid communities in identifying local historical assets that can be developed into themed transnational tourism packages. Maritime and underwater cultural heritage is not only an important receptacle of history, memory and identity; it has also proven to be a valuable educational and tourist resource through its adequate and respectful promotion. This Toolkit allows regions to identify historical assets that share links with other Atlantic regions. To find out more, we talk with the TIDE project partner Carlota Pérez – Reverte, from the University of Cadiz (Spain), the author of the Toolkit.

What is the main objective of this guide?
The aim of this toolkit is to help institutions, organisations and other practitioners to develop responsible and sustainable tourism products based on maritime and underwater heritage. Although this field has been neglected for a long time (at least from an academic point of view), it has been receiving a lot of attention recently, and there are already a number of successful experiences to be analysed. And that is what we have done, and what we have learned is that a compromise with sustainability and responsibility is the best path both socially, culturally and economically. And the way that offers more advantages considering the well-being of the visitors, the host community and the heritage itself. 

The TIDE Toolkit will help local communities identify historical aspects of their culture that have the potential to be developed and shared as part of niche tourism packages. How does it work?
Maritime and underwater heritage are very complex and varied. We speak about many different types of elements, of materials and of states of conservation. Also the circumstances of the communities, and the needs of the visitors and the host are going to be different from one place to another. So, this guide seeks to help us to understand what fundamental aspects should be considered, what aspects we should gather information on, what professionals should we be in contact with, which perspectives can we use to enhance the cultural value of the heritage and the strategies we can use to integrate this product in the local community and reach our audiences. That would be the first step. To know what we have and its potential. That is what the toolkit is for. The second step is the wonderful framework and network that the TIDE project itself offers, not only to take advantage of the shared knowledge and expertise but also to create combined, transnational products that can get us, our visitors and our heritage much further.

What has been the main challenge when developing the Toolkit?
I would say there have been two main challenges, related somehow. The first one is precisely the variety and complexity of the heritage we are working with. The second one is the fact that this toolkit is intended to be of use in many different countries with a different vision of heritage and tourism, and different legislation. Considering this, finding a balance between specificity and generality has been quite a challenge. Our intention was to create a guide useful for the different types of heritage, for different types of entities and agents and at the same time for different countries without interfering with their legislation, and that was not easy. In this case we have worked first looking at the heritage very close, to understand carefully its needs. Second, we have analysed more than a hundred cases of tourist products based on this kind of heritage, one by one, to understand the risks, the benefits and the opportunities in each case. And then, we had to take a step back, to get a bigger perspective and see the shared challenges.

In this sense, the fact that the toolkit was developed in a privileged environment such as the TIDE project has been fundamental to overcome this issues. The continuous feedback among the process of the TIDE working team, which is not only multidisciplinary, but also includes people from different countries, has been very enriching and productive. To have the chance to listen to and debate with this group of extremely qualified experts from different countries sharing their knowledge and expertise was key to reach this point of equilibrium. Not to mention the valuable work of ERNACT leading and organising the sharing of this information.

And the biggest lesson learned?
For me, the biggest lesson is surely that without sustainability and responsibility, products are less stable, less profitable, and they can cause social tensions, and even destroy heritage. On the other hand, I have been able to understand the immense importance of the Interreg projects to face common challenges, share knowledge and create a better future. That is why the toolkit is not only looking to help to develop sustainable and responsible products, but also to encourage practitioners to create multiregional packages. We are stronger when we work together.

Besides that, I would like to add that this process has been full of small lessons also quite eye opening for me. I had to analyse many cases that at first sight did not fit into what I, culturally, as Spanish, would consider a complete good practice in relation to heritage. However, once I analysed them carefully and leaving, as far as possible, my prejudices aside, in almost all of them I found very valuable and extremely useful lessons. A lot of room for learning. I will give you some examples that people can find in TIDE's catalogue of good practices, although I could cite many, many more. 
  • The Greencastle Maritime Museum, which is a delight and which I had the privilege of visiting, has so many elements that it can be difficult to understand them without the help of a guide. The very structure of the building itself, which used to belong to the Coastguard, imposes a compartmentalisation that makes it difficult for the exhibition to flow. However, for me, this museum is a wonderful example of success, of how to reuse a historic building while preserving its history, and of how to work with today's maritime communities, such as fishermen. This latter issue is really complex and I think all museums dedicated to the sea in my country could learn a lot from this case. 
  • The Laurentic exhibition, which, being free of charge, might not be considered ideal by a tour operator, nevertheless implies an overwhelming success in working with divers and the community, which is a very important (and difficult) group to integrate in these initiatives. In both Madeira and the Pays de la Loire, we have outstanding examples of adapting buildings to the new needs of society and keeping alive intangible heritage, such as the art of navigation. Devon, on the other hand, has been making a great effort to make its heritage and related information accessible through digital media by getting very diverse institutions to row in the same direction together, which is something not easy at all.  
Being able to see so many cases, with so different approaches, has made me grow immensely as a professional and has changed my perspective on this field, not only by great lessons, but though a thousand of small (and not so small) things that have helped me to think out of the box (my cultural box, let´s say). And I am very grateful.

The TOOLKIT offers tools and ideas to address the different challenges that cultural maritime heritage can pose whilst adapting them to the conditions of each case and region. How are those who utilize the TOOLKIT empowered to assess and decide which ideas and tools best fit their goals and resources?
The problem of working with a heritage that is not very visible, such as the underwater heritage, and that is not very valued, such as the maritime heritage, is that there is a great lack of knowledge, and that knowledge essential to generate a tourist product. So, if you don't know the field you are going to work on, if you don't know where to start, then what the Toolkit offers is a roadmap that allows you to tackle all the phases in an orderly way, helping you to understand what information you have to collect, how you can do it, how you can process it, what kind of professionals or institutions may be of help... Then it may be of assistance in the process of evaluating the potential of your resources to make better decisions, and on deciding what message you want to send, and targeting your audience. Besides, the toolkit is full of cases and ideas (this small but eye-opening lessons) to stimulate your creativity and to help you also to think outside the box to offer something relevant and meaningful for your visitors and your host community.  

On the other hand, it is not reasonable to think that a product of this kind won’t need any improvements or modifications in the long term, because time changes and society evolves, therefore, the toolkit also helps to stablish some key performance indicators to be evaluated periodically in order to understand and adjust the performance of our product. Last but not least, the Toolkit also includes a series of exercises at the end of each chapter which, if fully completed, will give us, at the end, a fairly solid draft project from which to start working.

What do you expect to achieve, at project level, with the TIDE Toolkit?
One of the objectives of the Toolkit within the TIDE project in the first place was to be of use for the partners, creating a consensual framework through which to start working to develop our pilot projects. Looking further, it also seeks to help the TIDE project in raising the number of regions involved and the transnationality of the products developed. I think that in this sense this Toolkit is a very good tool to work with our stakeholders, because it not only allows us to make a very clear presentation of the field in which we operate and the lines of work in which we are interested, but it also gives tools to our stakeholders and other interested people to generate these products, encouraging them to do it in collaboration with other regions and, ideally, through the TIDE project. As I have said, we are better and stronger when we work together.  


Click here to email  Ianire Renobales at ERNACT Network for further information


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