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The European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) is responsible for identifying new ways of developing rural areas within European regions and for improving the quality of life for their populations.  Exchanging ideas, sharing best practice and learning from each other are important elements of this process.

One example of best practice is the international LEADER project called ‘Slow Trips – European Slow Travel Experiences’, led by the Austrian institution ARGE CultTrips & Slow Travel, LAG Zeitkultur Oststeirisches Kernland  together with the East Styrian tourist authority.  This project focusses on sustainable cultural holidays in nine regions which all lie off the beaten track.  Precisely in post-COVID-19 times, a new definition of quality is needed for the tourist industry.

Project leader Barbara Stumpf explains that, “Slow Trips means tourism, but in a creative sense. The great thing about them is that you as the traveller have the chance to be actively involved in the experience, to learn about everyday life in the regions through contact with local people, and to stay in small, family-friendly, unusual accommodation.”  

The international project has been recognized by the European jury and nominated to reach the final round of this year’s ‘Rural Inspiration Awards’ in the category ‘Resilience.’  Also the opinions of the people and the travellers themselves came into play, through a public vote across the whole of Europe for the best rural development initiative.

“With our new booking platform that was launched at the beginning of March, we hope that in the coming weeks we can convince as many people as possible of the value of our regions and experiences, giving us even more impetus to develop further,” says Barbara Stumpf, who is already excited about the decision and virtual awards ceremony to be held at the end of March.

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